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Daniel Oran - Oran's Dictionary of the Law

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208 Freedom of religion

Freedom of religion The First Amendment right to hold any religious beliefs and to practice these beliefs in any way that does not infringe on public safety or infringe on important rights of others. Also, the right of all citizens to be free of the exercise of religious control by or through the government. See establishment clause.

Freedom of speech The First Amendment right to say what you want as long as you do not interfere with others’ rights. These other rights are protected by the laws of defamation, public safety, etc.

Freedom of the press The First Amendment right of the press to publish most things “without censorship or prior restraint,” to be free from unreasonable attempts to punish what has already been published, and other rights.

Freedom of the seas A merchant ship’s right to travel the high seas at all times.

Freehold Ownership of land, either unrestricted or limited by no more than a time limit.

Freeze A halt to changes in prices, wages, hiring, etc.

Freeze-out The use of corporate power by a majority of the stockholders (owners) or of the board of directors to either get rid of minority stockholders and board members or to strip them of all power. See also squeeze-out.

Fresh complaint rule The idea, used infrequently now, that a rape or other sexual assault complaint may not be believable unless the complainant went for help within a short time.

Fresh (or hot) pursuit rule 1. The right of a police officer to cross state (or county or other) lines to continue an unbroken chase of a suspected criminal. This right is limited to those states which allow it. 2. The right of a person who has had property taken to use reasonable force to get it back after a chase that takes place immediately after it was taken.

Friend of the court See amicus curiae.

Friendly fire A fire that remains contained where intended, but may do damage anyway.

Friendly suit A lawsuit brought by agreement to settle a point of law that affects opposing persons.

Friendly takeover One company gaining control of another with the approval of the second company’s board and officers.

Fringe benefits Things besides salary that either compensate a person for working (such as paid medical insurance or profit-sharing plans) or make it pleasant to work (such as on-site recreational facilities).

Fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine 209

Frisk A superficial running of hands over a person’s body in order to do a quick search, especially for weapons.

Frivolous Legally worthless. For example, a pleading that clearly has no legal leg to stand on, even if every fact it claims is true, is frivolous. Also, an appeal that presents no legal question or is so lacking in substance that it could not possibly succeed is frivolous.

Frolic An employee’s deviation from a mission to do something for himself or herself.

Front name Street name.

Front wages Prospective payments made to a victim of job discrimination who cannot yet be given the job to which he or she is entitled. These payments, made until the job comes through, make up the difference between money earned now and money that would be made now if the new position were immediately available.

Frontage assessment A tax to pay for improvements (such as sidewalks or sewer lines) that is charged in proportion to the frontage (number of feet bordering the road) of each property.

Front-end load Charging a large part of the commissions and selling costs at the start of a deal to buy insurance, to invest in a mutual fund, to lease property, etc.

Frozen account An account (usually a bank account) from which no money may be removed until a court or administrative order is lifted.

Frozen assets The property of a business that cannot be easily sold without damaging the business. This includes financial assets which, if sold, will hurt the company’s financial structure. The opposite is liquid assets.

Fructus (Latin) Fruit or profit.

Fruit Product of; material result. For example, rental income is the fruit of renting land out and stolen money is the “fruit of crime.”

Fruit and tree doctrine The rule that income tax cannot be avoided by merely assigning income to another person. The only way to transfer the income tax to another person is to give away the income-producing property itself (such as by giving it to a child who may pay lower taxes).

Fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine The rule that evidence gathered as a result of evidence gained in an illegal search or questioning cannot be used against the person searched or questioned even if the later evidence was gathered lawfully. Compare with independent source rule.

210 Frustration

Frustration Frustration of contract ” occurs when carrying out a bargain has become impossible because of some change or occurrence that is not the fault of the persons making the deal. The change must remove something (or change some condition) that the persons who made the contract knew from the beginning was necessary for the contract to be carried out. “Frustration of purpose” occurs when, even if a bargain can be carried out, some change has wiped out the real reasons for the contract. In some cases, promises need not then be carried out.

Fugitive from justice A person accused of committing a crime who leaves the area or hides to avoid prosecution.

Full coverage Insurance that pays for every dollar of a loss with no maximum and no deductible amount.

Full faith and credit The constitutional requirement that each state must treat as valid, and enforce where appropriate, the laws and court decisions of other states. There are exceptions to this rule, especially those cases in which the other state lacked proper jurisdiction.

Functional In trademark law, essential to a product’s use or purpose, or affecting the product’s cost or performance. A functional product feature cannot get trademark protection unless it has a patent.

Functus officio (Latin) A person whose official job is finished and who has no further authority to act.

Fund 1. A sum of money set aside for a particular purpose. 2. Money and all other assets (such as stocks or bonds) on hand.

Fundamental Basic or crucial. For example, fundamental rights are the basic rights, such as the right to vote and right to travel, that are most strongly protected by the Constitution. See also strict scrutiny test.

Fundamental analysis Deciding whether to buy or sell a particular stock or other security based on the company itself, the industry in general, etc. Compare with technical analysis.

Fundamental law A country’s constitution or its basic governing principles.

Funded debt 1. State or local debts that have either a fund of money or a specific tax plan set aside for payment. 2. A company’s long-term debt, such as a bond issue, replacing other short-term debts.

Fungible Able to be easily replaced one for another. For example, pounds of a particular grade and type of rice are fungible because one may be substituted for another, but different paintings are not fungible. [pronounce: funji-ble]

Furandi animus (Latin) See animo.

Futures 211

Furman v. Georgia (408 U.S. 238) The 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision that found certain state laws and practices imposing the death sentence to be violations of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Many state death penalty laws and practices were changed because of this case, but later cases have limited its effect.

Furtherance Helping something move forward.

Furtum (Latin) A theft or the item stolen.

Future advances Money lent on the same security as a previous loan. Some open-ended credit and mortgage contracts allow additional loans like this.

Future-acquired property See after-acquired property.

Future damages Money awarded in some lawsuits to compensate for the likely future effects (such as long-term medical expenses, pain, and loss of earnings) of an injury. Contrast speculative damages.

Future earnings Estimated money that would have been made in the future if an injury had not occurred.

Future interests Present rights in property that give the right to future possession or use; for example, the right to own property and use it after ten years go by.

Futures Contracts promising to buy or sell standard commodities (rice, soybeans, etc.) or securities at a future date and at a set price. These are “paper” deals that involve profit and loss on promises to deliver that do not depend on possession of the actual commodities.

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G.A.A.P. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles published by the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

G.A.A.S. Generally Accepted Auditing Standards published by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

G.A.O. General Accounting Office. The federal agency that assists the U.S. Congress in financial matters; audits and investigates federal programs; settles claims against the U.S.; etc.

G.A.T.T. General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. An international agreement that lowers import taxes and otherwise makes international trade flow more smoothly.

G.D.P. Gross domestic product. The value of all goods and services produced in a nation in one year.

G.M.I. Guilty, but mentally ill. A jury’s recommendation of treatment after it rejects a defendant’s insanity defense.

G.N.M.A. Government National Mortgage Association. A government organization that operates special programs in which housing mortgages are bought and sold to encourage private lending in certain types of housing. Also called “Ginnie Mae.

G.N.P. See G.D.P.

G.P.M. Graduated payment mortgage.

G.P.O. Government Printing Office. The agency that publishes all the laws, regulations, etc., of the federal government.

G.S. Short for general schedule or government service. The abbreviation precedes most federal civil service ranks, which range from G.S. 1 to G.S. 18.

G.S.A. General Services Administration. The federal agency that manages U.S. property.

Gag order 1. A judge’s order that a wildly disruptive defendant be bound and gagged during a trial. 2. A judge’s order to lawyers and witnesses that they discuss the trial with no outsiders, reporters in particular. 3. A judge’s order, usually held unconstitutional, to reporters that they not report certain court proceedings.

Gag rule 1. A gag order. 2. Any law or rule that prohibits the expression of ideas or that cuts off debate.


214 Gage

Gage An old word for pledge, pawn, or security.

Gambling policy An insurance policy issued to a person who has no insurable interest in the person or property insured. These policies are unenforceable, and sometimes illegal.

Gaol (Old English) Jail.

Gap-filler An essential contract term that is supplied by a court or by a law because the parties failed to include it.

Garnishee A person who holds money or property belonging to a debtor and who is subject to a garnishment (see that word) proceeding by a creditor.

Garnishment A legal process, taken by a creditor who has received a money judgment against a debtor, to get the debtor’s money. This is done by attachment of a bank account or by taking a percentage of the debtor’s regular income. State laws set a limit on the percentage (often 25 percent) of a person’s wages that may be garnished through a person’s employer. The garnishment of federal wages is limited by the Federal Wage Garnishment Act, which, in addition, gives some protection from dismissal due to garnishment.

Gault decision The Supreme Court case (In the Matter of Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967)) that gave juvenile defendants the rights of adult criminal defendants (such as the right to counsel, the privilege against self-incrimination, etc.).

Gay rights A general term for the prevention of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Gearing See leverage.

Gebser v. Lago Vista (524 U.S. 274) The 1998 U.S. Supreme Court decision that a school district is not liable for sexual harassment of a student by a teacher when no responsible official had actual notice of or was deliberately indifferent to the teacher’s misconduct.

Gele An old word for a rent or a public license similar to a royalty payment for mining.

Gen. General.

Gender discrimination See discrimination.

General 1. A whole group (as opposed to only a part of the group or only one individual in the group); applying to all (as opposed to only some or only one); broad or unlimited. The opposite of “general ” is often “special” or “limited.2. For general election, instructions, partner, verdict, and others that do not follow here, see those words. See also special and limited for the opposite, especially if the word cannot be found here or under the base word.

General warranty deed 215

General appearance Coming before a court and submitting to its jurisdiction in a case. Compare with special appearance.

General assembly 1. The entire legislature in many states. 2. The lower house of many state legislatures. 3. The meeting of representatives of all the member nations of the United Nations.

General assignment for creditors A transfer of all rights to a debtor’s property to a trustee who settles the debtor’s affairs and distributes money to the creditors.

General assistance (or general relief) A local form of aid to the poor that sometimes has state backing, but involves no federal funds. It is usually temporary.

General average loss (or contribution) A loss at sea that will be shared by the shipowner and all owners of cargo shipped. This happens if the lost or damaged items (often thrown overboard) were intentionally lost to save the ship and the rest of the cargo.

General building scheme A development plan involving the division of a piece of land into separate building lots that are sold with identical restrictions on each as to how the land may be used.

General cash issue (or offer) A sale of stock or other securities open to all buyers.

General (or prime) contractor A person who contracts for a whole project (such as a building job) and hires subcontractors (such as plumbers) to do specialized work.

General creditor A person who is owed money, but who has no security for the debt.

General digest See American Digest System.

General execution A court order to a sheriff or another court official to take any personal property of a defendant in order to pay off a judgment against that person.

General jurisdiction The power of a court to hear and decide any of a wide range of cases that arise within its geographic area.

General lien A right (arising from a contract) to hold personal property of another person until payment of a debt is made.

General strike A work stoppage by a large part of the workers in a geographic area. The strike may be spontaneous, and its goals are often political rather than economic.

General warranty deed A document used for the transfer of land that includes the promise to protect the buyer against all claims by others to ownership of the property transferred. Compare with quitclaim.

216 General welfare clause

General welfare clause The provision of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 1) that Congress may tax and pay debts to provide for the country’s “general welfare.

Generation-skipping trust A trust in which, for example, a grandmother gives the income from the trust property to her children and then the trust assets to her grandchildren. By not passing the trust assets directly to her children, then on to the grandchildren, one transfer tax is avoided, but there are now tax rules that impose a special generation-skipping tax on this.

Generic citation Public domain citation.

Generic name A general name for a type of product that does not distinguish between the various brands of the product; the nontrademark name of a product.

Genericide A court or Patent and Trademark Office decision that there has been an abandonment of a trademark right because the trademarked name (such as aspirin) was permitted to come into common use as the generic name for the product.

Genetic marker testing See DNA fingerprinting and HLA testing.

Geneva Convention An international agreement for the conduct of war that includes the proper care of enemy wounded, the safety of hospitals and medical crews, etc.

Gentleman’s agreement A deal that cannot be enforced in court and that depends solely on the good faith of the persons making it. See informal agreement.

Germane Close on point, relevant, pertinent.

Gerrymander Create unusually shaped (or otherwise odd or unnatural) political boundaries or districts in a state or country in order to accomplish an improper purpose, such as to give a voting advantage to one political party.

Gideon v. Wainwright (372 U.S. 335) The 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision that gave criminal defendants in state felony trials the right to counsel.

Gift 1. Any willing transfer of money or property without payment close to the assumed value of the thing transferred. 2. Any willing transfer of money or property without payment and with no thought of any possible financial benefit to the giver. 3. For gift causa mortis, see causa mortis.

Gift over A property transfer that takes effect automatically when another ends; for example, a gift “to Linda for life, then to David.”

Goldberg v. Kelly 217

Gift tax A tax on gifts (see that word) that is paid by the giver (federal and some state taxes) or by the person receiving the gift (some states). Once, federal gift tax was separate from estate tax but now there is a “unified estate and gift tax.” See unified transfer tax (and compare with inheritance tax).

Gifts to Minors Act A uniform act, adopted by most states, that simplifies the transfer of property to minors. In a transfer under the act, the adult keeps title to and control over the property, and the child gets the interest or dividends, which may be used for the child’s support.

Gilt edge A popular term describing a stock, bond, other security, or negotiable instrument with the highest rating (for safety of investment).

Ginnie Mae See G.N.M.A.

Gist The main point, issue, or argument. [pronounce: jist]

Giveback An arrangement in which a union negotiates a new contract with lower salaries or benefits, usually to preserve jobs.

Gloss An explanation of a passage in a book or document that is usually put on the same page.

Glossary 1. Dictionary. 2. Small dictionary; specialized dictionary.

Go bare 1. Self-insurance (see that word). 2. Making a risky investment or doing a risky deal without hedging against the risk.

Go forward


Go to protest

See protest.

Going and coming rule The principal that while a person is commuting to or from work the person is not usually covered by workers’ compensation laws, and the person’s torts are not usually within the scope of employment, so in neither case must employers pay for such things as collision injuries.

Going concern A company that is transacting its usual business in its usual way (even if in a weak financial condition).

Going private 1. A company’s taking its stock off a stock exchange. 2. A company’s rebuying of its own stock or otherwise rearranging its financial affairs so that it is no longer owned by many persons (for example, by merging with or being bought by a larger company).

Going public Selling shares in a corporation to the general public for the first time.

Goldberg v. Kelly (397 U.S. 254) A 1970 Supreme Court decision that called welfare a right, not a privilege, thus requiring a hearing before termination of benefits.

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