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OF THE LEGAL AND OTHER NOT-EASILY-UNDERSTOOD WORDS AND PHRASES
A fortiori, literally, for the stronger ground, or reason. Allegiance, the tie, or duty, which binds the subject or citizen of a State to aid and assist the State, or Sovereignty, in return for the protection afforded by the latter. It imports, therefore, the obligation of a subject, or citizen, to be faithful to the State. Ambassador, a public minister, of the highest grade, sent abroad by a sovereign state, or prince, to transact public business with a foreign government, in behalf of his own. There are three grades of foreign ministers. (1.) Ambassadors, who have the highest rank and privileges, and who represent, personally, their sovereign. (2.) Ministers Plenipotentiary, who have full powers to act for their sovereign or country. (3.) Minister: Resident, who generally possess, or may possess, the same powers, but hold a subordinate rank to Ministers Plenipotentiary. The explanation of the peculiar rights and duties of each class belongs, properly, to a treatise on the law of nations. Arrest, the seizure and detention of the person of a party, by a public officer, under a writ or process from some court or magistrate. Thus, when a sheriff takes a man in custody, under a writ, we say, the sheriff arrests him, or he is under arrest.
Arrest of judgement, an order of a court, directing that no judgement be rendered in a case, from an error of law in the proceedings. Articles of Confederation, the form of a general government, adopted by the States, during the Revolution, for their union. It was framed by the Continental Congress, in 1778; and was finally adopted, by all the States, in 1781, and remained in force until the present Constitution of the United States was adopted, in 1788. The articles will be found, at large, in the Appendix to this Volume, pp. 279
Autre Droit, in the right of another, and not in one's own personal right. Thus, an administrator or executor, who collects a debt due to the estate of the deceased party, receives it not on his personal account, but in the right, or as representative, of another. Bail, a person, who becomes surety for another's appearance in a court of justice, to answer to some civil suit, or criminal accusation; and usually, also, that he shall abide the judgement of the court thereon.
Bailable, literally, where bail may be taken. Thus, a suit or criminal accusation is said to be bailable, where the party is entitled, after arrest, to be discharged on giving bail
Bill. This word has various senses, according to the things, to which it is applied It may be generally defined, to be a formal, written Instrument. When we speak of a Bill before a Legislature, we mean, a written Instrument, containing a proposed Law, drawn up in the proper form. When the Bill is said to be passed by the Legislature, we mean, that it has received the final assent of the Legislature. When the Bill is passed, and is approved by the Executive, or othwise becomes a Law, we call it an Act, or Statute.
Bill of Credit, a written Instrument, which contains a promise or agreement of the State to pay or allow a certain sum of money to the bearer or holder thereof. It is issued on the credit of the State, and is designed to circulate as currency.
Bill of Rights, a written Instrument, containing a public declaration of certain general rights of the people, which are held fundamental to their security and protection.
Bills for raising Revenue. These are written Instruments, contain ing laws proposed to be passed by the Legislature, to create a revenue, or income, to the Government; such as a Bill to lay and collect a tax, or duty, on houses, or lands, or goods.
Bona fide, a phrase borrowed from the Latin language, and literally meaning," in good faith." We commonly apply it to a person, whe acts honestly and conscientiously in doing any thing, without sus pecting or knowing it to be wrong.
Bottomry Bond, literally, a Bond given by a master or owner of a ship, or other vessel, pledging the bottom of the vessel, that is, the vessel itself, for the repayment of money borrowed upon the credit of the vessel, and payable upon the contingency, that the vessel per forms the voyage specified in the bond.
Cabinet, an abbreviated expression for Cabinet Council, meaning the Ministers of the State, or Heads of the Departments of the Government, who are convened by the Executive Magistrate, to assist and advise him in the Government. Thus, in the United States, we say, the Heads of the Departments of State, of War, of the Treasury, of the Navy, of the Post Office, and of the Law, (the Attorney General,) constitute the Cabinet, that is, they are the private confi dential advisers and council of the President.
Cessio Bonorum, literally, a Cession or Transfer of the Goods or Property of a party. It is a phrase derived from the Roman or civil law, and means, that a debtor has made a cession, or assignment, of his property, for the benefit of his creditors.
Charter. In a general sense, this word means any written Instrument conferring rights or creating obligations, from the Latin word charta, paper or parchment, on which something is written. But, in legal language, a Charter usually means a written Instrument, or grant, under the public seal of the Government, conferring certain rights, privileges, and authorities, of a public nature, upon certain citizens or subjects. Such were the original Charters of Government, granted by the Crown to the American Colonies.
Commission, a written Document, signed by the Executive, or other proper officer of the Government, conferring an authority, or appoint ment to office, on some person Commissions to public officers
appointed by the President of the United States, are signed by the President, and have the great seal of the United States annexed thereto. To commission, is to give or grant such commission to the proper party.
Confederation, Articles of, see Articles of Confederation Consul, a commercial Agent of the Government, appointed and resi dent in a foreign country, to attend to the commercial rights and privileges of his own country, and its citizens, in such foreigr. country.
Continental Congress, the general appellation of the general Congress or Legislature, in which all the States of the Union were represented, by their Delegates, during the American Revolution. It was called Continental,' as being for the whole of the Continent of America, embraced within the limits of the United States, in contradistinction to a Provincial Congress, which was the Legislative Body of a single State, Colony, or Province, of the Union. Conveyance, a transfer, in writing, by one person to another, of his right and title to land or other property. It is usually by an Instrument under the seal of the person making the transfer. Copyright, the right of an Author to the exclusive publication and sale of his works, for the period, which is prescribed by law for its con tinuance, upon his complying with the requisites of law, in order to secure the same.
'rown. This word is used as equivalent to King, Sovereign, or reigning Monarch. Thus, we say, indifferently, such a grant was made by, or such a power exists in, the Crown, the King, or the Sovereign. Declaration of Independence, the Act by which the United States severed their connexion with the British Crown. It may be found, at length, in the Appendix to this Volume, pp. 275–279. Declaration of Rights, of the Continental Congress, a declaration, published October 14, 1774, and which may be found, at length, in the Appendix to this Volume, pp. 271–274.
Defendant, the person against whom any suit is brought; but, in a more limited sense, it means the person, against whom any suit is brought, who appears in court to defend, or contest, the suit. Duty on Tonnage, a tax laid on ships and vessels, in proportion to their tonnage; as, for example, a tax of six cents a ton on the tonnage of every American ship, or a tax of fifty cents a ton on that of every foreign ship, arriving in the ports of the United States. Embargo, a restraint, or detainment, of ships and vessels, from sailing out of port, imposed by the authority of the Government. It is usually imposed for temporary purposes, in contemplation of war, or on account of some immediate and impending public danger. Equity. This word is commonly used as equivalent to natural justice, in contradistinction to strict Law. In the Law, it is used, to express the jurisdiction, which belongs to Courts of Equity, to enforce rights and remedy wrongs, in favor of parties; which rights and wrongs Courts of common Law have no authority to enforce or re dress.
Estate, the right and interest, which a man has in property. Real
Estate is the right and interest, which a man has in land, or other things of a kindred and permanent nature; such, for example, as an interest in a mill, in a waterfall, or in a private way. Personal Estate is the right or interest, which a man has in goods, merchandises, and other movable property, or debts and credits. Estoppel is, in Law, the stopping, or precluding, or preventing, a man from setting up any fact, or previous act, to contradict or invalidate, what he has since done or admitted. Thus, if a man makes a conveyance, by deed, of land, stating therein that he has a good title thereto, he shall be estopped to deny that he had any title. Excise. This word ordinarily means a tax, or duty, laid upon some commodity or thing used, or manufactured, or sold, in a country. Thus, a tax laid upon all coaches used, or upon all spirits manufactured, or upon all goods sold at auction, in a country, is called an excise. It is commonly used in contradistinction to "imposts," the latter word being applied to taxes levied on goods upon their importation from a foreign country, whereas excises are taxes on things already in the country, or to be sold or manufactured there, and are therefore commonly called "internal taxes."
Ex post facto, literally, after the act is done. The phrase is usually applied to laws passed to punish an act as a crime, when it was not so at the time, when the act was done. Hence such laws are called Ex post facto laws.
Felony. This word was originally applied to crimes, which the common law punished by a forfeiture of the lands and goods of the offender, it being supposed to be derived from the feudal law, in which "fee" signified the fief, feud, or estate of the tenant, and "lon,' which signified price or value. It is now commonly applied to designate such crimes as are punished capitally, that is, by death. Franchise, a right or privilege, granted by the King or Government to one or more persons, which does not belong to subjects or citizens generally; and which cannot properly be exercised by them, without such grant. Thus, to be and act as a corporation, is a fran
General Issue, a law phrase, signifying a general denial, by the Defendant in a suit, of all the charges made by the Plaintiff, in his written statements, or allegations, (commonly called a declaration,) against the Defendant, for which the suit is brought. Thus, if an action is brought by A against B, for an assault and battery of A, and B pleads. that he is not guilty, this is called the general issue; that is, the Defendant denies the whole matter charged against him. The Reply of the Plaintiff, putting the matter of fact on trial, by the Jury, is called joining the issue. So, where a party, charged with a crime, pleads not guilty, that is the general issue.
Grantee, the person to whom a grant is made. The person, who
makes the grant, is called the Grantor.
Habeas Corpus, literally, Have you the Body. The phrase designates the most emphatic words of a writ, issued by a Judge or Court, commanding a person, who has another in custody, or in imprisonment, to have his body (Habeas Corpus) before the Judge or Court, at a particular time and place, and to state the cause of his imprison
ment. The person, whether a sheriff, gaoler, or other person, is Dound to produce the body of the prisoner at the time and place appointed; and, if the prisoner is illegally or improperly in custody, the Judge or Court will discharge him. Hence it is deemed the great security of the personal liberty of the citizen against oppression and illegal confinement.
Impeachment, in a juridical sense, is a written, formal accusation of a person, as being guilty of some public offence or misdemeanor. When the charges against him are specially described and set forth in writing, they are called Articles of Impeachment. When, for example, the House of Representatives of the United States prefers or offers to the Senate written charges, against any public officer, as being guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, on which it requires him to be put upon trial, it is called an Impeachment.
In Capite, literally, in chief, or of the head. Tenants in capite, are those tenants of land, who hold them directly, or immediately, from and under the King, by his gift or grant, in contradistinction to persons who hold by the grant of, or under, other persons. Indictment is a formal written accusation, by a Grand Jury, charging a person to be guilty of a particular crime or misdemeanor, which is particularly described and set forth in the indictment.
Infamous crime. This phrase means, in common language, a crime, which is attended with infamy. In Law, it is usually applied to such gross, or atrocious crimes, as involve deep moral turpitude and disgrace.
Injunction, the name of a writ or process, which enjoins or commands a man to do or not to do a particular act or thing; and is a common process issued by Courts of Equity, in proper cases. An injunction of a judgement is an order to the party, who has obtained a judgement in a suit, not to enforce that judgement by an execution, or otherwise.
Insolvency, an inability of a debtor to pay all his debts. Insolvent laws are such as are made for the relief of debtors unable to pay all their debts.
Ipso facto, literally, by this very act. immediately follows from that act.
It means, that a certain result Thus, we say, if a man conveys
his estate to another, he ceases, ipso facto, (by this very act,) to be the owner thereof.
Jure Belli, literally, by the law or right of war. Jurisprudence is, properly speaking, the Science of the Law, in which sense, it includes all the principles and doctrines of the Law. The word is sometimes used in a more limited sense, and means only the expositions and interpretations of the Law, by Judicial Tribunals. Jury, a body composed of twelve men, selected to try questions of fact in civil and criminal suits, and who are under oath or solemn affirmation, to decide the facts truly and faithfully, according to the evidence laid before them. The points, which they are to try, are generally founded upon the written allegations of the parties, (called the pleadings,) and the points, on which the parties require their decision, are called the issues, and the decisions on those points made by the jury, after hearing the case, are called their verdict, or find