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1st editionNolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryBy the Editors of Nolo, Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen Thompson HillKeep Up to Date! Old law is often bad law.  at’s why has free updates for this and every Nolo book. And if you want to be notifi ed when a revised edition of any Nolo title comes out, sign up for this free service at’s Aim:to make the law… easy-to-understand aff ordable hassle freeBooks & SoftwareNolo publishes hundreds of great books and software programs on the topics consumers and business owners want to know about. And every one of them is available in print or as a download at Legal DictionaryFree at Stumped by jargon? Look it up in America’s most up-to-date source for defi nitions of cutting edge legal terminology. Emphatically not your grandmother’s law dictionary! Legal EncyclopediaFree at Here are more than 1,200 free articles and answers to frequently asked questions about everyday consumer legal issues including wills, bankruptcy, small business formation, divorce, patents, employment and much more. As  e Washington Post says, “Nobody does a better job than Nolo.” Online Legal FormsMake a will or living trust, form an LLC or corporation or obtain a trademark or provisional patent at, all for a remarkably aff ordable price. In addition, our site provides hundreds of high-quality, low-cost downloadable legal forms including bills of sale, promissory notes, nondisclosure agreements and many more.Lawyer DirectoryFind an attorney at Nolo’s unique lawyer directory provides in-depth profi les of lawyers all over America. From fees and experience to legal philosophy, education and special expertise, you’ll fi nd all the information you need to pick a lawyer who’s a good fi t. Products & Services“In Nolo you can trust.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES“Nolo is always there in a jam.”—NEWSWEEK1st editionNolo’s Plain-English Law DictionaryBy the Editors of Nolo, Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen Thompson HillFIRST EDITION MAY 2009Editor SHAE IRVINGCover Design SUSAN PUTNEYBook Design TERRI HEARSHProofreading ROBERT WELLSPrinting DELTA PRINTING SOLUTIONS, INC.Nolo’s plain-English law dictionary / by the editors of Nolo and Gerald and Kathleen Hill. 1st ed.p. cm.ISBN-13: 978-1-4133-1037-5 (pbk.)ISBN-10: 1-4133-1037-0 (pbk.)1. Law United States Dictionaries. I. Hill, Gerald N. II. Hill, Kathleen, 1941- III. Nolo (Firm) IV. Title: Plain-English law dictionary. KF156.N654 2009349.7303 dc222009011279Copyright © 2009 by Nolo. All rights reserved. e NOLO trademark is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Printed in the U.S.A.No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission. Reproduction prohibitions do not apply to the forms contained in this product when reproduced for personal use. Quantity sales: For information on bulk purchases or corporate premium sales, please contact the Special Sales Department. For academic sales or textbook adoptions, ask for Academic Sales. Call 800-955-4775 or write to Nolo, 950 Parker Street, Berkeley, California 94710. vYour Legal CompanionLike it or not, legal terms are everywhere, demanding our attention. When you rent an apartment, are you the lessor or the lessee? When you read a newspaper article about a politician embroiled in scandal, what does it mean that a grand jury has been convened? If a state trooper pulls you over, and the speeding ticket says you must post bail, what is it talking about? To make sense of words like these, turn to Nolo. It’s our mission to put the law into everyday, understandable language. We’ve been doing it for almost 40 years—and now we’re tackling legal language one word at a time. Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary includes nearly 4,000 legal terms, old and brand new.Just a few years ago, legal terms like “cramdown,” “phishing,” “CSI effect,” and “coho” didn’t exist or were rarely used in everyday conversation. Here, you’ll find clear definitions of these and many more of the latest twists in legal language. We’re committed to finding and defining the important terms that aren’t contained in other legal dictionaries. And we’ll keep adding new terms to the online version of this dictionary, which you can find at You can also use this dictionary on your iPhone—just check the iTunes Store.Here’s another quick tip to help you use this book: If you’re looking for a term that starts with a number, like “410(k) plan” or “1031 exchange,” you’ll find it spelled out as a word. For example, to find “1031 exchange” look it up as though it’s spelled “ten-thirty-one exchange.” More than 15 lawyers and a talented support staff have worked together to bring you Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. We hope you’ll find it both useful and entertaining.lviiContributorsKeith Bauerle worked at Nolo and contributed to this dictionary while attending law school at UC Berkeley. After graduating, he clerked for the High Court of American Samoa and practiced environmental law with the Denver office of Earthjustice. He currently practices environmental and land use law in the San Diego City Attorney’s office. Ilona Bray Illona’s legal background includes solo practice as well as experience in the nonprofit and corporate worlds. She has written or coauthored several Nolo titles, including Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits, Becoming a U.S. Citizen, and Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home. Catherine Caputo Before joining Nolo, Cathy was an attorney in private practice assisting start-up and small business clients with a wide range of legal needs. She edits small business books and soft-ware and also focuses on issues affecting seniors, such as Social Security benefits and retirement. Cathy received her law degree, with honors, from the University of San Francisco School of Law.Emily Doskow Emily is a Nolo author and editor, and a mediator and attorney in private practice in Berkeley, California, specializing in adoption and family law, especially for same-sex couples. She is the coauthor of several Nolo books, including Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce, Becoming a Mediator, Do Your Own California Adoption, and How to Change Your Name in California.Diana Fitzpatrick Diana worked on municipal finance issues at the San Francisco City Attorney’s office before joining Nolo. She also worked at a law firm in New York for several years before moving to the Bay Area. Diana is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Barnard College.Lisa Guerin During her years as a law student at the University of California at Berkeley, Lisa worked for Nolo as a research and editorial assistant. After a stint as a staff attorney at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Lisa has worked primarily in the field of employment law, in both government and private practice. Lisa rejoined Nolo in 2000 and is the coauthor of several employment titles, including Create Your Own Employee Handbook and Dealing With Problem Employees.Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen ompson Hill Gerald has practiced law in San Francisco’s financial district and in a small town; has served as a pro tem judge, viiiarbitrator, university law instructor, and executive director of a state agency; and has drafted legislation. He has a B.A. in political science from Stanford University and a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.Kathleen is a journalist and language analyst, who writes a weekly newspaper column, was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs, served on a grand jury, and chaired two municipal commissions. She earned a B.A. at the University of California, a degree from the Sorbonne, Paris, and an M.A. in political psychology from Sonoma State University.Together, the Hills have coauthored 28 books, including e Encyclopedia of Federal Agencies and Commissions, e Facts on File Dictionary of American Politics, and e Real Life Dictionary of the Law. ey have taught at the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, and Sonoma State University, and were visiting scholars at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.Shae Irving Shae graduated from Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall) in 1993 and began working for Nolo in 1994. She has written extensively on durable powers of attorney, health care directives, and other estate planning issues. She is the managing editor for Nolo’s Quicken WillMaker Plus software.Bethany K. Laurence Beth graduated from Hastings College of the Law at the University of California in 1993. She spent several years working for a corporate legal publisher before coming to Nolo. She joined Nolo’s editorial staff in 1997 and has never been happier. Beth is the coauthor of Nolo’s Business Buyout Agreements and the editor of many of Nolo’s small business books.Janet Portman Janet received under-graduate and graduate degrees from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of Santa Clara. She was a public defender before coming to Nolo. Janet is Nolo’s managing editor, the author of Every Landlord’s Guide to Finding Great Tenants, and the coauthor of many Nolo titles, including Every Landlord’s Legal Guide, Every Tenant’s Legal Guide, Renters’ Rights, and Negotiating the Best Lease for Your Business.Mary Randolph Mary has been editing and writing Nolo books and software for more than a decade. She earned her law degree from Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall), and her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois. She is the author of Deeds for California Real Estate, e Executor’s Guide, and other Nolo materials.Alayna Schroeder Alayna graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She is coauthor ixof several Nolo titles, including Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home. Alayna currently practices employment law, focusing on advising employers on sound employment practices and investigating employment disputes.Betsy Simmons-Hannibal Betsy is a Nolo editor specializing in estate planning books and software. She graduated with honors from Golden Gate University School of Law where she was research editor of the law review. Prior to joining Nolo, she trained at two private law firms as well as the San Francisco Superior Court and the Federal District Court of Northern California. When she’s not working, you might find her playing soccer, traveling with her husband, or doting on her curious dog.Marcia Stewart Marcia is an expert on landlord-tenant law, buying and selling houses, and other issues of interest to consumers. She is the coauthor of Nolo’s Every Landlord’s Legal Guide, Every Tenant’s Legal Guide, Renters’ Rights, and Leases & Rental Agreements, and editor of Nolo’s LeaseWriter software for landlords. Richard Stim Rich graduated from the University of San Francisco Law School and worked in private practice for 16 years until joining Nolo as an editor in 2000. He is the author of Profit From Your Idea, Getting Permission, and Music Law, and is the coauthor of Patent Pending in 24 Hours.Ralph Warner Ralph is a cofounder of Nolo. He is the author (or coauthor) of a number of Nolo books, including Every Landlord’s Legal Guide, Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court, Form a Partnership, and Get a Life: You Don’t Need a Million to Retire Well. Ralph is a lawyer who became fed up with the legal system and dedicated his professional life to making law more accessible and affordable to all Americans.Drew Wheaton Drew received his under-graduate degree from Willamette Uni-versity, where he studied philosophy. In 2004, he joined Nolo, where he now works in the editorial department as a legal researcher. In the near future, Drew plans to attend law school.[...]... files a lawsuit for a minor child or for a person who is 11 administer incompetent acts as “guardian at litem” (guardian just for the purposes of the lawsuit) A person acting ad litem has the responsibility to pursue the lawsuit and to account for the money recovered for damages (See also: guardian ad litem) administrative hearing  A hearing before a governmental agency or an administrative law judge... the draft during the Vietnam War American Bar Association (ABA)  A voluntary professional association of U.S lawyers founded in 1878 The ABA’s activities and mission include providing law school accreditation, continuing legal education classes, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public amortization 1) ... the laws that were in effect then “America is the paradise of lawyers.” —Justice David J Brewer act of God  An extraordinary and unexpected natural event, such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, tsunami, or even the sudden death of a person An act of God may be a defense against liability for injuries or damages; insurance policies often exempt coverage for damage caused by acts of God Under the law. .. improper pressure from Jeff and brings a lawsuit to challenge it The court appoints an administrator ad litem to represent Jerry’s estate while the lawsuit is in progress Also known as administrator ad prosequendum, administrator pendente lite  Latin for “administrator pending litigation.” The person appointed by a court to begin probate proceedings during a lawsuit that challenges the will The administrator... an allegation, that claim need not be proved in trial 2) In criminal law, to agree that a fact is true or to confess guilt 3) To allow something to come in as evidence in a trial, as when the judge rules, “Exhibit D, plaintiff’s letter, is admitted into evidence.” admiralty court  See: maritime court admiralty law See: maritime law admissible evidence  The evidence that a trial judge may allow in... plan passed by Congress or any state legislature which is a “bill” until enacted and becomes law act of nature  See: act of God actual controversy  An actual dispute that can be legally resolved, as opposed to a hypothetical or theoretical conflict created for the sake of attaining an action  Another term for a lawsuit For example, a plaintiff might say, “I filed this negligence action last fall after... polling place on election day absolute  Complete, without condition, and not subject to modification, as with “absolute ownership” or a “divorce absolute.” “The law must be stable, but it cannot stand still.” —Roscoe Pound, The Philosophy of Law abstention doctrine  The principle underlying a federal court’s decision not to hear a case or controversy that is also being considered by a state court Federal... guardian ad litem) administrative hearing  A hearing before a governmental agency or an administrative law judge There is no jury, but the agency or the administrative law judge has the authority to make a decision and issue a ruling administrative law The procedures created by administrative agencies (governmental bodies), including rules, regulations, opinions, and orders These procedures are often unique... the practice of law than it is to have great learning and no morals.” —Vice President Thomas R Marshall administrator de bonis non cum testamento annexo  An administrator appointed by a probate court to take over probate proceedings when the named executor dies, leaving the job unfinished administrator ad litem  A person a ­ ppointed by a probate court to represent an estate during a lawsuit (Ad litem... process  Using a legal process in a civil or a criminal case, such as filing a lawsuit or taking a deposition, in order to inconvenience another party or otherwise use the process improperly Some courts define the term to mean using litigation to pursue objectives other than those named in the suit For example, filing a lawsuit over a certain debt, when the real reason for the suit is to force payment . edition Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary By the Editors of Nolo, Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen Thompson HillKeep Up to Date! Old law is often bad law. . “ten-thirty-one exchange.” More than 15 lawyers and a talented support staff have worked together to bring you Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. We hope you’ll
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