Abbildungen der Seite

ing of the truth of the facts. The jury for the trial of causes 's some. times called the petit, (or small,) or traverse jury, (that is, a jury to try questions of fact, which are traversed or denied between the parties)

Jury, Grand, a body composed of not less than twelve, nor more tnan twenty-three men, who, under oath, hear the proof of any particular crime, or offence, with which any person is charged, and if they believe him guilty on the evidence, they present an indictment against him.


Law, Civil. The phrase," civil law," sometimes means the law, which respects the private rights and property of persons, in contradistinction to criminal law, which respects public offences. Sometimes, it means the Roman Law, which is commonly called the civil law. Sometimes, civil law is used in contradistinction to military law, the latter being applicable only to persons in the military or naval service. Law, Common. The phrase, common law," is used, in England, to express all the doctrines and principles of Law, which are recognised and enforced in its jurisprudence, and are not founded upon any positive existing act or statute of Parliament. It consists of al. the general customs and usages, which regulate the rights of proper ty, and all those general principles of justice and interpretation, which are acted upon in Courts of Justice, and all those remedies, which are applied for the redress of wrongs, which cannot be traced up to any positive act or statute. The phrase," common law," is sometimes used to distinguish the English law from the Roman, which is commonly called the "civil law ;" and sometimes merely to express, that it is the law applicable, in common to the whole kingdom. The common Law of each of the American States is that portion of the English common Law, which has been adopted by the particular State, in connexion with its own peculiar and settled usages and customs, and which is not prescribed by any act or statute of the State Legislature.

Law, Constitutional. Constitutional Law is that branch of the Law which relates to the exposition and interpretation of the Constitution of the State or Nation.

Law, Merchant. That branch of the Laws of a State or Nation, which treats of rights, duties, contracts, &c., respecting trade, and commerce, and navigation, and shipping, and sales, and insurance, and bills of exchange, and promissory notes, &c. &c.

Law, Municipal. Municipal Law means the law of a particular community, State, or Nation, in contradistinction to the law of foreign communities, States, or Nations.

Law of Nations. The Law of Nations is properly that, which regulates the rights and duties of Nations, in respect to each other, and the respective subjects and citizens thereof. That branch, which respects the rights and intercourse of the Nations, in their sovereign capacities, is often called public international law; that, which respects the private rights and intercourse of the respective subjects and citizens thereof, is called private international law.

Laws, Insolvent. Laws made respecting debtors, who are unable te pay their debts, and distributing their property among their cred'tors

Laws, Inspection. Inspection laws are such laws as are made by a particular State, to ascertain and fix the quality, character, and relative value, of its own products or manufactures. In order to ascertain these facts, the products or manufactures are examined, or inspected, by skilful persons, who are often called inspectors; as, for example, inspectors of provisions, inspectors of flour, inspectors of ashes, &c.

Letters of Marque and Reprisal. These are letters under seal, or commissions, granted by a government to one or more of its citizens, to make seizure or reprisal of the property of an enemy, or of persons, who belong to another government, which government has refused to do justice to the citizens of the country granting the letters of marque and reprisal.

Magna Charta, or Magna Carta, literally, the Great Charter. This name is given to a formal written charter, granted by King John, and confirmed by King Henry III., of England, which solemnly recognised and secured certain enumerated rights, privileges, and liberties, as belonging to the people of England, which have ever since constituted a fundamental part of the constitution or government of England. Among other important rights, it secured the right of a trial by jury in civil and criminal cases, and the right of the subject to the free enjoyment of his life, his liberty, and his property, unless declared forfeited by the judgement of his peers, (a jury,) or by the Law of the land. Several of its provisions constitute a part of the Bill of Rights set forth in our present State and National Constitutions.

Malversations in Office. This phrase is applied to official misdemeanors, corruptions, extortions, and other wrongful conduct, by public officers.

Mandamus, literally, "we command." This is a writ issued by a Court of Justice to some Corporation, public officer, or other person, commanding them to do some particular thing, therein specified, which appertains to their office or duty. It is called a Mandamus, from this word being in the original writ, which was formerly in Latin.

Material Men. Those persons are called, in Admiralty Courts, ma

terial men, who supply ships with provisions, or equipments, or other outfits, or furnish materials for repairs, and make the repairs on ships. Mesne Process, literally, intermediate process, as contradistinguished from final process, in any suit. In strictness, the writ first issued, to bring a party before a court, in a suit, is called original process; the writ of execution, which issues to enforce the judgement in the suit, is called the final process; and all other process or writs, issued in that suit, are mesne process. But, in America, mesne process is ordinarily used to describe all process issued in a suit, which is not final process.

Ministers Plenipotentiary, }

See Ambassadors.


Ordinance of 1787, for the settlement and government of the North Western Territory of the United States, may be found, at length, in the Appendix to this Volume, pp. 329–337.

Parliament. This is the appellation, by which the Legislature of Great Britain is ordinarily designated. It is composed of the House of Lords, and House of Commons.

Patent, an abbreviated expression, signifying letters-patent, or open letters, or grants of the government, under the great seal thereof, granting some right, privilege, or property, to a person, who is thence called the Patentee. Thus, the government grants the public lands, by a patent, to the purchaser. So, a copy-right in a book, or an exclusive right to an invention, is granted by a patent. When the word patent is used in conversation, it ordinarily is limited to a patent-right for an invention.


The party, who is the grantee of a patent from the govern


Peers. Peers, ordinarily, means the nobility of Great Britain, who have a seat in the House of Lords. They are called peers, from the Latin word, pares, equals. But the word is also used to signify, the pares, or jurymen, who are entitled to try questions of fact in civil and criminal cases. The trial by jury is therefore often called a trial by his (the defendant's) peers. Personal Estate. See Estate.

Plaintiff, the party, who brings a suit against another, for redress of some private wrong or breach of contract. He is so called, 'be cause he makes a plaint or complaint against the wrongdoer. Plea, the written defence of the Defendant in any suit, in denial or avoidance of the matter charged by the Plaintiff in that suit against him.

Plea, Special. It is a special justification or excuse, set forth in writing by the Defendant in a suit, which bars or destroys the Plaintiff's right in that suit. It is used in contradistinction, generally, to the general issue. A justification admits the act charged by the Plaintiff to be done or omitted, and justifies the Defendant in such act or omission. Whereas the general issue usually denies, that the act has ever been done or omitted.

Plurality of Votes. A person is said to have a plurality of votes, who has more votes than any other single candidate for the same office. A person is said to have a majority of votes, who has a larger number than all the other candidates have, adding all their votes together. Prima facie means, literally, upon the first view or appearance.


is commonly applied to cases of evidence or presumption, where the meaning is, that the evidence or presumption is to be taken to be sufficient to prove certain facts, until other evidence or presumptiɔns are introduced to control it.

Prison Liberties, or Gaol Limits. To every public gaol or prison, there are certain limited spaces, or local limits, outside of the walls of the gaol or prison, within which persons imprisoned for debts are entitled to reside, or be, upon complying with the conditions and securities required to be given, that they will commit no escape. These limits, or liberties, are commonly called the gaol or prison limits or liberties.

Privies, in a legal sense, are those, who claim any right or property from or under another person. Thus, the heir, or devisee, of an an

cestor, is a privy under the latter. An executor is a privy under his intestate. A purchaser is a privy in estate from the seller. Process of Law. Process means the writs and other compulsive writ ten orders, issued in any civil or criminal case, to compel the appearance of a party or witness, or to enforce obedience to the judgement, or other order of a court of justice.

Property in Contingency, is property, to which there is no absolute right or title in a party, but its vesting in him is dependent upon a future uncertain event. Thus, a legacy to a man, who is under age, if he arrives at twenty-one years, is property in contingency. Proprietary. This phrase is equivalent to owner or proprietor. But it is usually limited to persons, who possess a right to territory, with the powers of government therein. Thus, Penn was called the Proprietary of Pennsylvania, and Lord Baltimore, of Maryland; because, by grants from the King of England, not only the territory of those Colonies, but the right of governing them, was vested in them. Pro tempore, literally, for a time. It means, that a person is not the regular officer holding an office, but one holding it for a short and uncertain period. Thus, the Vice President of the United States is the regular President of the Senate; but, in his absence, the Senate may appoint a President, pro tempore, to perform his duties. Provincial Congress, see Continental Congress. Real Estate, see Estate.

Records of a Court. These are the written memorials of the trans actions of a court of justice, drawn up in form by its regular officers, and styled records, because the acts and doings of the Court are therein recorded fully and truly, so as to be received as absolutely


Replication is the written reply of the Plaintiff in a suit, to the plea put in by the Defendant in the same suit. Its true object is, to deny or destroy the validity of the plea, as a bar to the suit. Reprieve. When a criminal has been condemned, by the sentence of a court of justice, to suffer a particular punishment at a particular time, and the execution of that sentence is postponed, suspended, or withdrawn, for an interval of time, by the proper authority, it is cal led a reprieve; from reprendre, to take back.

Return-Day of Process. Whenever a writ or process is issued by a court of justice, to an officer, or other person, to be by him executed, according to the command therein stated, it usually contains a fixed time, when the officer is to make a return of that writ or process, with a written statement of his acts or proceedings done under it. That time is the return-day; and that written statement is technically cal led his Return.

Right, Possessory. A man, who is in possession of property, having a right to possess it, is said to have a possessory right. Thus, a man, who hires a horse and chaise for a journey, has a possessory right to the horse and chaise for that journey, although the person, who lets them, is the general owner. So a man in possession of land, as a tenant, has a possessory right in the land, although it is owned by

his landlord. Sergeant-at-Arms. The name of the officer of a legislative body, whe

serves processes, and executes the orders of that body upoa solem occasions.

Socage, a word of feudal origin, and, in that system, the tenure, by which a man holds lands, is to render therefor some certain and determinate service, in contradistinction to tenure of lands by uncertain and precarious services, where the tenant was obliged to render such service as the grantor might, from time to time, require of him. Free Socage is a tenure by certain and honorable service. Stamp Act. An act or statute, which requires certain papers and enumerated documents to be stamped with a stamp by the government, before they have any validity; and imposes a certain tax or duty for the stamping such papers or documents. Thus, if the government should declare, that every deed or promissory note should be written on paper stamped by the government, and require the party to pay a fixed sum or tax for such stamped paper, the Act or Law, making such provisions, would be called a Stamp Act. Stand seised. A man is said to stand seised of land, who is in posses

sion of it under a claim or title to it, either in fee., or, at least, for life. State Trials are trials for crimes or offences in Courts of justice. They are called State trials, because the State or Government prose cutes the suit or indictment.

Statute. An act or law, passed by a Legislature. It is called a Statute, from Statutum, a thing ordered or appointed by the Legislature.

Statute of Limitations. A statute or law, which limits the time with in which a suit or action may be brought in a court of justice. Such statutes exist in every State in the Union.

Suit at Law is the remedy, which a person, aggrieved by any wrong done to him, seeks, in a court of law, for redress of the wrong. Tonnage Duty is a tax or duty laid by the Legislature, or other com

petent authority, upon ships or vessels, in proportion to their tonnage Tort is a wrong or injury done by one man to another, or to his property or rights. It includes all trespasses; but is a word of larger signification.

Treaty of Peace, of 1783, is the treaty made between Great Britain and the American States, by which Great Britain acknowledged our Independence, and surrendered her claims to our Territory. It closed the War for our Independence; and will be found in the Appendix to the present Volume, pp. 324-329.

Trespass is a wrong or injury done by one man to another, or to his property or rights. When the word is used, alone, it means some wrong done by violence, or force, or some illegal act. Thus, if a man unlawfully strikes another, or unlawfully takes possession of the land or goods of another, he is said to be guilty of a trespass. V. is often put for versus, or against. Thus, a suit is said to be by A versus B.

Viva Voce, literally, by the living voice, or orally. Thus, when s witness gives his testimony in open court, in the presence of the au dience, and answers, by word of mouth, we say, his testimony is vivâ voce. If his testimony is written down, and read, it is called his Deposition.

« ZurückWeiter »