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Susan Ellis Wild - Webster's New World Law Dictionary

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x n. A mark or indication utilized as a signature by an illiterate person who is unable to sign his or her name.


year and a day rule n. The rule of common law that in order for homicide to have been committed, the victim’s death must occur within a year and a day after the act that allegedly caused it.

years, estate for n. An interest in land for a specific and predetermined period of time.

yellow dog contract n. A document required of an employee by the employer, as a condition of employment, in which the employee promises not to join a labor union, with penalty for breach being the termination of employment. Federal laws, including the National Labor Relations Act, have made such contracts illegal.

yield 1 v. To let go of or forego something 2 n. The monetary return from an investment.


zoning n. The creation by a legislature of geographical sectors within a municipality or other geographical entity, in which different uses of or activities upon property are permitted or forbidden.

Part II



AAA American Arbitration Association. A national organization that promotes the use of arbitration to resolve commercial and labor disputes. It also maintains a panel of arbitrators for those who wish to utilize their services.

AALS Association of American Law Schools. A national organization of law schools that have each graduated at least three classes of students and have offered instruction for at least five years.

ABA American Bar Association. The largest national organization of lawyers, it promotes improvements and reform in the administration of justice and in the provision of legal services to the public.

ACLU American Civil Liberties Union. A national organization of lawyers and others who are interested in enforcing and preserving the individual rights and civil liberties guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions.

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act. Federal law enacted in 1990 to protect individuals with physical or mental disabilities from intentional or unintentional discrimination in housing, employment, education, access to public services, etc.

ADEA Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Federal statute that protects most employees between 40 and 70 years of age from age discrimination in the workforce. Other federal and local laws provide other protections against age discrimination in such areas as housing.

ADR Alternative dispute resolution. Formal methods of settling disputes other than by court action, collectively referred to as alternative dispute resolution or ADR.

aff’d Affirmed.

aff’g Affirming.

A.G. Attorney General. The chief legal officer of the United States or of a state, who advises the federal or state government on legal matters, represents the federal or state government in litigation, and heads the United States Department of Justice or a state’s legal department.

a.k.a. Also known as. Phrase used before a list of names used by a specific individual in order to avoid confusion about the person’s true identity or by others when referring to the individual.

ALI American Law Institute. A national organization of attorneys, judges, and legal scholars who seek to promote consistency, clarity, and simplification in the law through such projects as the Restatements of the Law and the Model Penal Code.

ALJ Administration law judge.

AMEX American Stock Exchange. The second largest stock exchange in the United States. Located in New York City, it frequently engages in the trading of stock of small or new companies because of its less rigid listing requirements.

AMT Alternative minimum tax. A flat tax originally imposed upon corporations or individuals with high incomes in the event that they wrote off all their income through use of deductions, credits, and contributions. It was enacted to make sure that these parties paid at least some income tax, but it also can affect middle-income families.

APA Administrative Procedure Act. A federal statute governing the rule-mak- ing and administrative proceedings of federal administrative agencies by providing guidelines for rule-making and adjudicative hearings, judicial review, and public access. Most states have similar statutes governing their state administrative agencies.


Webster’s New World Law Dictionary


APR Annual percentage rate.


AWOL Absent without leave. The act of being away from one’s military duties or post without permission but with no intent of deserting.

BAC Blood alcohol content. The amount of alcohol in an individual’s bloodstream expressed as a percentage of the total composition of one’s blood. The percentage is used to determine whether the person is legally drunk, especially in regard to laws prohibiting the driving of vehicles while under the influence of alcohol.

B and E (or B & E) Breaking and entering. Two of the elements constituting the crime of burglary. Under the common law, forcible entry into a building (however slight) without permission used to be required, but many state laws now only require one to enter (for example, through an unlocked door or open window) or remain on the premises (for example, hiding in a closet until no one else is left in the building) without authorization.

BFOQ Bona fide occupational qualification. Employment practices that would constitute discrimination as to certain individuals of a particular religion, gender, national origin, or age range (but not race or color) when the otherwise illegal discrimination is a bona fide qualification that is reasonably necessary for the normal performance of the duties of that particular occupation. For example, a designer of women’s clothes by necessity is permitted to hire only female models to show off new designs. Such practices are not illegal under federal law. In addition, religious organizations and schools are allowed to hire only members of that religion even if religion is not a bona fide occupational qualification for that position (such as

the requirement that all teachers in a parochial school be Catholic, even though they teach subjects that do not require Catholic background).

BFP Bona fide purchaser. One who receives property in exchange for money or valuable consideration.

B/L Bill of lading. A document issued by a carrier or by a shipper’s agent that identifies the goods received for shipment, where the goods are to be delivered, and who is entitled to receive the shipment.

C & F Cost and freight. Both the initials and phrase are used in offers and contracts for the sale of goods to indicate that the quoted price includes the cost of the freight to a named destination as well as the cost of the goods.

C.D. Certificate of deposit. 1 A certificate from a bank acknowledging the receipt of money and a promise to repay it at a specified time and with interest determined at a specified rate. 2 A bank document evidencing a time deposit.

cert. From Latin certiorari. To be more fully informed. A writ issued at the discretion of an appellate court directing a lower court to certify and deliver the record of a case that is not appealable as of right to the appellate court for possible review. See also appeal and writ of error.

cf. Compare. In legal citation, a direction to the reader to review a cited authority in which an explanatory or an analogous (but supportive) proposition might be found.

but cf. In legal citation, a direction to the reader to review a cited authority in which a analogous (but contradictory) proposition might be found.



C.F. See C & F

C.F.I. See C.I.F.

C.I.F. Cost, insurance, and freight. Phrase used in an offer or a contract for the sale of goods indicating that the quoted price includes the combined cost of the goods, insurance, and the freight to a named destination.

C.F.R. Code of Federal Regulations. The official annual compilation of all regulations and rules promulgated during the previous year by the agencies of the United States government, combined with all the previously issued regulations and rules of those agencies that are still in effect.

C.J. 1 Chief justice. 2 Chief judge. 3 Circuit judge. 4 Corpus juris

C.J.S. Corpus Juris Secundum. An authoritative legal encyclopedia that provides general background knowledge of the law with footnoted citation to relevant case law.

CLE Continuing legal education. 1 The training available to lawyers, usually through seminars, to continue their legal education, hone their skills, and keep up with the latest developments within a particular area of the law.

2 The industry of the providers of seminars, books, and other materials designed to provide such training to lawyers.





Reconciliation Act of

1985. A

federal statute requiring employers who provide a group health insurance plan for their employees to continue providing coverage to an employee for 18 months following termination or firing, or to a spouse of an employee in the event of divorce, for a period of 36

months following the entry of the divorce decree, provided that the spouse was covered by the employee’s health insurance during the marriage. Obligation for payment of the health insurance premium is borne by the terminated employee or, in the event of divorce, by the party designated in the divorce papers, but in no event by the employer.

corp. Corporation. An entity, usually a business, created by a legislative act or by individuals who have agreed upon and filed articles of incorporation with the state government. Ownership in the corporation is typically represented by shares of stock. Furthermore, a corporation is legally recognized as an artificial person whose existence is separate and distinct from that of its shareholders who are not personally responsible for the corporation’s acts and debts. As an artificial person, a corporation has the power to acquire, own, and convey property, to sue and be sued, and such other powers of a natural person that the law may confer upon it.

d/b/a Doing business as, identifying an individual’s trade name; for example, John James d/b/a James Productions.


DWI Driving while intoxicated. The criminal law offense of operating a vehicle after having drunk an amount of alcohol sufficient to raise one’s blood alcohol content above a legal limit, commonly referred to by the acronym DWI. Also known as driving under the influence (DUI), which, in some jurisdictions means that the driver had a lower level of intoxication than DWI, but was still impaired. In some jurisdictions, the term driving while impaired is used.

e.g. From the Latin, exempli gratia, meaning, for example.

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ERISA Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Federal legislation enacted in 1974 that sets forth rules for employee benefit plans.

et al. From Latin et alii or et alia. And others; typically used in the caption of court documents following the first named party, to signify that more than one individual is aligned on one side of the case.

ex. Latin. Previous, from.

FOIA Freedom of Information Act. A federal law that allows individuals and organizations to compel the federal government to release copies of documents it might not otherwise choose to disclose.

GAAP Generally accepted accounting principles. Standards adopted by the accounting profession for the form and content of financial statements

GAAS Generally accepted auditing standards. Standards adopted by the accounting profession governing the audit of corporations and organizations.

GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. An international agreement governing imports and exports; predecessor to the World Trade Organization.

HLA test Human-leukocyte-antigen test. A paternity test utilizing genetic material.

ICC Interstate Commerce Commission. A federal agency, no longer in existence today, that regulated interstate carriers.

id. Latin. Like ibid., indicates that a citation is identical to the immediate past one.

i.f.p. From Latin in forma pauperis. In litigation, to proceed as an indigent.

IRA Individual retirement account. A tax-deferred retirement account established by federal law. The portion of annual income contributed to the account is not taxed until it is drawn out after retirement age.

IRC Internal Revenue Code. Contains the current federal tax laws and is located in Title 26 of the United States Code.

IRS Internal Revenue Service. A federal government agency charged with the collection of income taxes.

J.Judge or justice.

J.D. Juris Doctor. The law degree conferred by most American law schools.

JJ.Judges or justices.

j.n.o.v. From Latin judgment non obstante veridicto. Judgment notwithstanding the verdict. In rare cases, a judge may enter a judgment in favor of one party despite a jury’s award against that party; generally in cases where the evidence was such that no reasonable jury could have come to the determination that it did.

J.P. Justice of the peace. A local official, not necessarily an attorney or judge, with jurisdiction over limited matters such as performing weddings or resolving minor civil or criminal complaints.

L.J. Law journal.

L.L.B. The law degree formerly granted by American law schools, most of which now confer the J.D. degree.

LLC Limited liability company. An entity that blends features of a corporation and a partnership, but is neither; owners are called “members” and may consist of one or more individuals, cor-



porations, or even other LLCs. Members have some of the same protection as stockholders in a corporation, especially, no personal liability.

L.L.M. Master of Laws degree.

LMRA Labor Management Relations Act. A 1947 federal law designed to protect employers, employees and the public. It governs union activities and provides an arbitration mechanism for strikes that cause national emergencies.

MACRS Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System. An accounting approach for the rapid depreciation of assets.

m.o. Modus operandi. Latin. A method of operating.

NASDAQ National Association of Security Dealers Automated Quotation system. An automated national stock exchange.

n.b. Latin. Nota bene; used to emphasize or call notice to something.

NLRA National Labor Relations Act. A federal law governing certain labor issues and creating the National Labor Relations Board.

NLRB National Labor Relations Board. A federal labor agency that oversees union elections and other labor issues.

NSF A banking term meaning “not sufficient funds.”

NSF check. Not sufficient funds check. A check that a drawee bank may not pay because the drawer has insufficient funds on deposit to cover it when it is presented for payment.

NYSE New York Stock Exchange. A national exchange operated by an asso-

ciation of securities firms based in New York City.

OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration. An agency of the federal government established by Act of Congress in 1970 that creates and enforces rules governing the safety of workers in the workplace. The agency routinely inspects workplaces and issues citations for businesses that are in violation of its standards. The agency is a part of the Department of Labor.

P.A. Professional association.

pat. pending A designation attached to a product while the Patent Office is considering the patent application. Such a designation imparts no protection against infringement unless the actual patent is eventually granted.

P.C. Personal computer; politically correct; probable cause; professional corporation; and protective custody.

PCR Stands for polymerase chain reaction, the newest (at this writing) method of DNA analysis. Using PCR technique, it is possible to analyze a biological specimen that is one-tenth the size of that required for the older RFLP method. It also gives quicker results, but the analysis is not as discriminating as RFLP.

PCR actions Post-conviction relief proceedings. Federal or state procedure whereby a convicted criminal can request that a conviction or sentence be corrected or vacated.

P.D. Police department; also public defender.

PSA Property settlement agreement.

Q The abbreviation used in trial transcripts and depositions to mark each question asked.

Webster’s New World Law Dictionary


QDRO Qualified domestic relations order. Any decree, judgment, or order that recognizes the right of one person (the alternate payee) to participate either totally or partially in the pension of another (the participant). The alternate payee must be a dependent child, spouse, or former spouse of the participant. This is an exception to the ERISA rule, proscribing the assignment of plan benefits.

rev. proc. Revenue procedure. An official IRS statement spelling out the administrative practices used by the IRS. For example, methods for obtaining a private ruling are often spelled out.

rev. stat. Revised statutes. Laws that have been changed, altered, amended, or reenacted by a legislative body. A reenactment is generally thought of as having the effect of a repeal and replacement of the former law.

RFLP Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism. The older and more discriminating form of DNA testing. Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism is a process that breaks DNA strands into tiny fragments at specific points on the DNA chain. Also known as HLA DQ Alpha, or simply DQ Alpha.

RICO Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. This law, enacted in 1970, is designed to fight activity by organized crime and to preserve the integrity of the interstate and international marketplace by investigating and prosecuting individuals conspiring to participate or actually participating in racketeering. Note that it has no force in intrastate commerce.

ROR Release on own recognizance. A pretrial release of an arrested person without bail, on that person’s promise to appear for trial when it is appropriate to do so.

R.S. Revised statutes. Laws that have been changed, altered, amended, or reenacted by a legislative body. A reenactment is generally thought of as having the effect of a repeal and replacement of the former law.

S.E.C. Securities and Exchange Commission. The federal administrative agency established by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, in order to supervise and regulate the issuing and trading of securities and to eliminate fraudulent or unfair practices. It is a regulating agency and is not judicial in nature, although it may pursue judicial remedies in federal court.

S.L. Session laws or statute laws. See also session laws. A bound volume of the statutes enacted by a legislative body during a single annual or biennial session; a collection of all of those aforementioned statutes.

T.R.O. Temporary restraining order. A restraining order is always temporary, because it is ordered without a hearing. This distinguishes it from an injunction. A court order issued to prevent a family member or other party from harassing, threatening, harming, seizing the property of, and sometimes even approaching or having any kind of contact with another; a court order issued to temporarily prevent a transfer of property, pending a hearing.


UCC Uniform Commercial Code. A law governing the sale of goods, commodities, and bank transactions. With some modifications, this law has been adopted by all 50 states and in the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


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