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Glossary of Legal Terms
(Starting with "E")

By Henry Dahut,,
Studio City, CA, U.S.A.


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earnings withholding order

A legal procedure by which a portion of a spouse's wages are paid directly to the other spouse for alimony or child support. In some states, this is called an "earnings withholding order" or a "wage garnishment."


Abbreviation of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC's main office is in Washington, D.C., but the EEOC also has "regional" offices in many other cities. The EEOC enforces federal laws against discrimination in employment.


An old, "common law" lawsuit to evict the tenant. This is not a particularly speedy remedy, and it is seldom used today.


The legal removal of a minor from parental control. The minor is usually free to live on his or her own.


A white-collar crime where an employee misappropriates money or property rightfully belonging to the employer. This crime is considered a larceny.


Someone who performs work for another person or company.


A person or company who hires someone to perform work.

employment at will

An employment relationship in which either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment at any time for any reason.

employment contract

A written or verbal agreement that sets forth the terms (such as the amount of pay and length of employment) under which an employee works for an employer. Also known as an "employment agreement".


The unethical acts of law enforcement inducing or encouraging a person to commit a crime that the person would not have been predisposed to have committed. A court will usually look to whether the idea for the commission of the criminal act originated with the defendant or with law enforcement. Entrapment is a complete defense to the crime charged.

equal protection of the law

The constitutional right of all persons to have fair access to the law and courts. It requires that all people be treated equally under the law, insuring due process of law to all people charged with a crime.


The market value of property, minus any debts owed on the property.


Abbreviation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the federal law that regulates health and retirement benefits in employment.

essential job function

"Essential job functions" are normally important duties of a job, but not the duties that are only secondary. An employee must be able to perform a position's essential job functions, with or without a reasonable accommodation, in order to be covered by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA").


A general term for forcing a tenant to vacate the premises.


All physical and nonphysical things which are determined by the court to be heard or shown to the jury for their consideration and judgement of the ultimate facts of the case. Examples of evidence are: witness testimony, blood stains, weapons, models, photos and graphs. Only relevant evidence is allowed to be admitted in a case. Evidence is relevant if it tends to prove or disprove a fact in controversy.


The legal questioning of a witness by an attorney. There is direct examination, cross examination, redirect examination and recross examination.

excessive bail

A bail amount set by a court that is excessive compared to an amount that would reasonably assure the accused would return to court for the criminal proceedings.

exculpatory clause

A provision in a lease or rental agreement that says that the landlord is not liable to the tenant if the tenant is injured on the property. Sometimes these provisions are valid, and sometimes they are not.

exclusionary rule

The Fourth Amendment rule that evidence obtained by law enforcement in constitutional violation of a defendant's rights will not be used against the defendant. The intent of the rule is to dissuade the prosecution and law enforcement from infringing on the privacy rights of society.


Evidence which tends to support the innocence of a defendant.


Enforcement of a judgment, usually performed by a deputy sheriff or deputy marshal.

executive clemency

The power of the president or a governor to pardon a person convicted of a crime or to shorten a prison term. A major reason for exercising clemency is the substantial doubt on behalf of government officials that the accused actually committed the crime.

executive employee

An employee who is exempt from federal laws requiring overtime pay because she makes at least $250 per week, and regularly directs the work of at least two full time employees, and whose main responsibilities include "managing" the company, a subdivision of the company, or an entire department.

exemplary damages

If the plaintiff in a lawsuit proves that the defendant acted "maliciously" or with fraud, the court might allow an award of "punitive" damages to punish the defendant and to set an example to other people who might be thinking of doing something similar. This is over and above compensation for the actual damages suffered by the defendant. Same as "punitive damages".

exempt employee

A worker who does not have the right to overtime pay.

exempt property

The property a debtor is allowed to keep after bankruptcy.

ex parte

A legal proceeding in which only one side appears in court. Ex parte proceedings are usually allowed only where immediate action is necessary and there is not enough time to allow the other side to respond.


The process of giving up one's citizenship. Under U.S. law, this can be done only by a U.S. citizen overseas before a U.S. Consul under oath, and the person must first establish that he is doing so voluntarily and that he has a legal status in another country. A person may not expatriate himself if it would render him stateless.

expedited removal

Procedure used at a port of entry in which the INS officer has the power to order a person returned without a hearing. It applies to persons entering without a travel document and where the person is believed to have lied or misrepresented himself in getting the travel document to come to the U.S.

express contract

An agreement in which the terms are stated by the parties. Such a contract can be either oral or written. Compare "Implied Contract".


The obtaining of money or property by threat of harm to another. Blackmail is a form of extortion in which the threat is to expose embarrassing and/or damaging information to another person or governmental agency.


The legal surrender by one state of a person charged with a crime in another state.

The defendant may "waive extradition" by surrendering to the state where charges were originally filed.


Any person who actually sees or hears an event and then testifies as to what he had seen or heard in open court.

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