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Glossary of Legal Terms
(Starting with "J")

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


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The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that no one can "be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb" for the same offense. In short, no one can be tried twice for the same crime.

joint tenancy

A means of owning property by two or more owners. If one of the owners dies, the other owner or owners automatically take over that person's portion of the ownership.


The decision of a court that determines the rights of the parties to a dispute.

judgment creditor

A creditor who has successfully sued the debtor and has obtained a court judgment against the debtor.

judgment notwithstanding the verdict

A reversal of a jury's verdict by the trial judge. This occurs when a judge determines there is little or no factual basis for the verdict or that such a verdict is contrary to law. The judge can then enter an alternative verdict in the matter.


A debtor who has only exempt property or no property, so that a creditor will be unable to collect a judgment against him or her.

judicial discretion

The appellate courts give trial court judges deference in their rulings when reviewing their decisions on the basis that the sitting judge was actually present during trial. Judges are therefore given wide discretion on their rulings and how they conduct their court.

judicial notice

The power of the court to make a finding of a fact as true. Examples of matters given judicial notice are public and court records.


A system of courts of law limited to a geographical area which litigate issues that arise out of that geographical area. Federal courts have jurisdiction over cases involving violations of federal law.


Typically a collection of twelve members of the defendant's community sworn to hear the facts of a case, apply the law, and determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. In a criminal trial the law requires a unanimous decision by the jury. Civil court juries do not require a unanimous verdict.

jury panel

A master list from which jurors are chosen to sit in the jury box and answer questions about their ability to be unbiased and fair as prospective jurors.

jury selection

The procedure by which a jury is chosen. From a panel of potential jurors the judge and attorneys ask questions of prospective jurors to determine if they can be fair and unbiased about the case.

jury tampering

A federal and state crime of intentionally and illegally influencing the outcome of a criminal trial by making direct or indirect contact with a juror.

jury trial

In a criminal trial the defendant has a constitutional right to have the case presented to a jury for all factual determinations of guilt or innocence. This right can only be waived by a knowing and intelligent waiver the defendant.


A debtor who has only exempt property, so that a creditor will be unable to collect a judgment against him or her.


A debtor who has only exempt property, so that a creditor will be unable to collect a judgment against him or her.


A process of rules and judgements predicated upon principles of fairness and order in which the determination of guilt or innocence is determined by a formal judicial hearing.

justifiable homicide

A killing of a human being without criminal intent. There can be no criminal liability for such a killing. Examples include self-defense and insanity.

juvenile court

A special trial court which exclusively governs the prosecution of under-age defendants. The typical age is under 18 years. The goal is not to punish but to rehabilitate the minor. Social workers and probation officials are usually very active in such proceedings.

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