Governmental Law Terminology The language used in governmental law can be extremely difficult to follow, since much of it is jargon, used exclusively within the field itself. Before you work with a lawyer or research legal issues, familiarize yourself with the following terms:
Affidavit: And affidavit is simply a written statement that is given under oath. The statement can also be given verbally and printed.
Bench Trial: A bench trial is one without a jury of your peers. During a bench trial, the judge is the one who reviews the facts and makes a ruling.
Class Action Suit: This is the term used to describe a case where one or several individuals that are part of a group (such as clients, employees, or patients) sue another entity on behalf of everyone else that has opted in on the lawsuit.
De Facto: This Latin term is used to describe something that exists in fact, but does not necessarily exist in law. Translated to English, it means "in fact."
Grand Jury: The grand jury is a group of individuals, ranging in number from 16 to 23, that listen to the facts being offered by a prosecutor. This is done before some trials to decide whether there is sufficient evidence and probable cause to believe a crime happened. This is similar to an indictment.
Hearsay: Hearsay is when a witness provides evidence by word of mouth. In other words, the individual didn't see it him or herself, but heard it from someone else.
Jurisdiction: The ability of a court to hear and rule upon certain cases depends on the court's jurisdiction. This applies not just to geographical location, but to the type of trial as well.