Navigating the intricacies of court proceedings requires a clear understanding of legal terminology. At D&R Legal, we believe in empowering our audience with knowledge to make informed decisions and navigate court proceedings with confidence. This guide offers concise definitions, ensuring you’re equipped to engage with the legal system effectively.



Absconding refers to the act of deliberately evading legal proceedings by leaving the jurisdiction, thereby avoiding being served with legal documents or potentially facing arrest.


The term “in absentia” denotes a legal proceeding that takes place in the absence of the defendant. This occurs when the defendant is not physically present during the court proceedings.

Abstract of Title

An abstract of title is a concise summary or history of the legal rights associated with a particular piece of real estate. It provides an overview of the property’s ownership, transfers, and encumbrances.

Accord and Satisfaction

Accord and satisfaction is a legal concept where parties resolve a dispute by agreeing to a new arrangement, which, once fulfilled, serves as a satisfaction of the original obligation.

Acceptance of Service

When a defendant or their attorney acknowledges receipt of a complaint or petition in writing, eliminating the need for a process server to deliver it in person.

Actual Eviction

Illegally removing a tenant from their premises, often done by a landlord without proper lease agreement terms, depriving the tenant of rightful possession.


Additur is a judicial procedure wherein a judge may increase the amount of damages awarded by a jury if they believe the awarded amount is insufficient.


Adjudication refers to the formal process by which a court makes a final determination and pronouncement in a legal matter, settling the rights and claims of the parties involved.

Ad Litem

Ad litem, which means “for the suit,” refers to the appointment of a guardian or representative to act on behalf of a party, often a minor or an incapacitated individual, in a legal proceeding.

Affidavit of Service

A sworn written document, notarized, wherein the signer attests that the statements within are true, commonly used as proof of successful service.

Agent for Acceptance of Service

An individual authorized by a defendant or their attorney to receive a complaint or petition in writing, providing an alternative to in-person service.

Alias Summons

A replacement summons issued when the original is defective or ineffective, superseding the initial writ.

Amicus Curiae

An amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” is a third-party individual or organization that provides expertise or information to assist the court in making a decision in a case.


A defendant’s formal response to the plaintiff’s complaint, often involving addressing specific questions raised in the court documents.


A certification for authenticating documents for international use, recognized by an international body, providing authentication of signatures.


Arraignment is a formal court proceeding where the charges against the defendant are read, and they are asked to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest).


Background Investigation

A thorough examination of an individual’s history, often crucial in legal investigations to gather relevant information.

Best Evidence Rule

The best evidence rule is a legal principle that requires the original or best available evidence to be presented in court, rather than a copy or secondary source.

Bench Trial

A bench trial is a trial in which a judge, rather than a jury, makes the final decision after hearing evidence and arguments presented by both parties.

Bench Warrant

A court-issued order for the arrest of a person, typically for failure to appear or contempt.

Burden of Proof

The burden of proof is the responsibility of a party in a legal proceeding to provide sufficient evidence to support their claims. In criminal cases, it lies with the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.



Certiorari is a legal writ issued by a higher court, granting it the authority to review the decisions of a lower court.

Circumstantial Evidence

Circumstantial evidence is evidence that implies a fact or event but does not directly prove it. It is based on inferences drawn from the circumstances surrounding a case.

Clemency or Executive Clemency

Clemency is the act of a government authority granting leniency or pardoning an individual convicted of a crime. It may reduce or eliminate the penalties associated with the conviction.

Clerk Of Court

The clerk of court is an official appointed to oversee administrative tasks within a court, such as record-keeping, managing filings, and facilitating court proceedings.

Civil Process Server

A civil process server is an individual or agency responsible for delivering legal documents, such as summons, complaints, and subpoenas, to parties involved in a civil lawsuit.

Collateral Estoppel

Collateral estoppel is a legal doctrine that prevents a party from relitigating issues that have already been decided in a previous case, even if the parties and claims are different.


The initial document filed by the plaintiff, outlining legal claims against the defendant.

Constructive Eviction

When a landlord takes measures to prevent a tenant from residing in their unit without proper legal eviction proceedings.

Contempt of Court

Defying court authority, such as disrespecting a judge or not adhering to court orders, can result in contempt charges.

Corporate Service

Corporate service involves the process of delivering legal documents to a corporation or its designated agent. This is crucial for initiating legal proceedings against a corporate entity.


A corporation is a legal entity that is separate from its owners (shareholders) and is created to conduct business. It provides limited liability to its shareholders.

Corporations Registered Agent

A registered agent is an individual or entity designated by a corporation to receive legal documents on its behalf. They act as a point of contact for legal matters.

Court Order

A directive issued by a judge, magistrate, or other court official, commanding specific actions or decisions.



“DBA” stands for “Doing Business As.” It is a registration or declaration made by a person or entity operating a business under a name different from their legal business name.


The party being sued in a civil lawsuit or charged with a crime in a criminal prosecution.

Demand for Discovery

A demand for discovery is a formal request made by one party to another in a legal proceeding, seeking the disclosure of specific information, documents, or evidence relevant to the case.

De Novo

“De novo” is a Latin term meaning “anew” or “from the beginning.” In legal contexts, it refers to a new trial or review of a case without deference to previous decisions.


A conscientious effort to fulfill a task, often demonstrated by process servers in locating and serving legal papers.


Diversion is a legal process that allows certain individuals, often first-time offenders or those charged with minor offenses, to participate in alternative programs or interventions instead of going through traditional court proceedings.


The legal termination of a marriage, requiring a formal petition or complaint, addressing issues like property division, child custody, and support.


A docket is an official record or list of cases pending in a court, including details such as case numbers, parties involved, and scheduled events.

Due Process

The principle of ensuring fairness in all legal proceedings, safeguarding rights and preventing prejudice.

Due Process of Law

The absolute right of every citizen to fair legal procedures, including notice and the opportunity to be heard.


Eminent Domain

Eminent domain is the power of a government to take private property for public use, provided that the owner receives just compensation.

Evading Service Of Process

Evading service of process occurs when an individual intentionally avoids being served with legal documents in an attempt to delay or avoid legal proceedings.

Evasion Affidavit

An evasion affidavit is a sworn statement provided by a process server or investigator, detailing their efforts to locate and serve an individual who has been evading service of process.

Express Process

Express process refers to an expedited or accelerated method of serving legal documents, often used when time is of the essence in a legal proceeding.

Expert Witness

An expert witness is a person with specialized knowledge, skills, or experience in a particular field who is qualified to provide professional opinions or testimony in a legal proceeding.


Estoppel is a legal doctrine that prevents a party from asserting a claim or defense that is inconsistent with their previous statements or conduct.

Exigent Circumstances

Exigent circumstances refer to situations that require immediate attention or action due to urgent and pressing circumstances, often related to public safety or law enforcement.


The lawful process of removing a tenant from a rented property, typically involving court proceedings and legal notices.



“FKA” stands for “Formerly Known As.” It is used to indicate a previous name or identity that an individual or entity no longer uses.


The act of submitting legal documents to a court clerk for inclusion in the official record of a case.


Good Standing

Good standing refers to the current status of an individual or entity with regard to their legal or professional obligations, indicating that they are compliant and in good order.

General Damages

General damages are monetary awards granted to compensate for non-specific or intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of consortium, in a civil lawsuit.

General Jurisdiction

General jurisdiction refers to a court’s authority to hear a wide range of cases, without limitations on subject matter or monetary value, as opposed to limited or specialized jurisdiction.


Habeas Corpus

Habeas corpus is a legal writ that allows an individual to challenge the legality of their detention or imprisonment, compelling authorities to bring them before a court or judge.

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In Re

“In re” is a Latin term meaning “in the matter of” or “concerning,” often used to denote legal proceedings related to a particular case or matter.


Indicia refers to marks, signs, or indications that serve as evidence or proof of a particular fact, circumstance, or condition.


Interlocutory refers to legal actions, orders, or decisions that occur during the course of a case and are not final or conclusive, often subject to further review or proceedings.


Jane Doe

“Jane Doe” is a placeholder or pseudonym used in legal proceedings to refer to an unidentified or anonymous female party.

John Doe

“John Doe” is a placeholder or pseudonym used in legal proceedings to refer to an unidentified or anonymous male party, often used when the actual identity is unknown.

John Doe Summons

A John Doe summons is a legal summons issued to a person whose identity is unknown, requiring them to provide information or documents relevant to a tax or financial investigation.



A legal dispute between two or more parties, resolved through a formal court process.


Legal responsibility for one’s actions or obligations, often involving financial or legal consequences.



Malfeasance refers to the commission of an unlawful or wrongful act by a public official or person in a position of trust, often involving a breach of duty or abuse of authority.

Malicious Abuse of Process

Malicious abuse of process involves the intentional and wrongful use of legal proceedings for an ulterior motive, such as harassment, intimidation, or causing harm to another party.

Malicious Prosecution

Malicious prosecution is a legal claim that arises when a person initiates a baseless or unfounded lawsuit with malicious intent, causing harm or damage to the defendant.


Mandamus is a legal remedy or writ issued by a court to compel a public official, government agency, or lower court to perform a specific duty or take a required action.

Mens Rea

Mens rea, Latin for “guilty mind,” refers to the mental state or intent of a person when committing a crime, often a crucial element in determining criminal liability.


Nolle Prosequi

Nolle prosequi, Latin for “unwilling to prosecute,” refers to the prosecutor’s decision to drop or dismiss charges against a defendant, often due to insufficient evidence or other reasons.

Notary Public

An authorized individual who can administer oaths, witness signatures, and verify documents.



A solemn declaration made under penalty of perjury, often used to verify the truthfulness of statements in legal documents.


Personal Service

Personal service refers to the delivery of legal documents, such as summonses, complaints, or subpoenas, directly to the individual named in the documents, ensuring proper notice.


Formal written statements filed by parties involved in a lawsuit, presenting their legal claims and defenses.

Priority Process

Priority process refers to the expedited handling and delivery of legal documents, often due to their time-sensitive nature or urgent requirements in a legal proceeding.

Private Process Server

A private process server is an individual or agency hired to serve legal documents, such as summonses or subpoenas, on behalf of parties involved in a legal proceeding.

Private Investigation Service

A private investigation service involves conducting investigative activities, gathering information, and providing surveillance services for legal, corporate, or private clients.

Proof Of Service

Proof of service is a formal document or affidavit provided by a process server, indicating that legal documents have been properly served on the intended recipient, supporting compliance with legal requirements.


Regular Service

Regular service refers to the standard process of serving legal documents, involving personal delivery to the named recipient or an authorized agent on their behalf.

Return Of Service

The return of service is a document completed by a process server, providing details of how and when legal documents were served, including information about the recipient and the manner of service.


Same Day Service

Same day service provides for the immediate or expedited delivery of legal documents, ensuring prompt service to meet the demands of urgent or time-critical legal matters.

Service By Facsimile

Service by facsimile, or fax service, is a method of delivering legal documents electronically by transmitting a copy via fax machine, often used for expediency and convenience.

Service By Mail

Service by mail involves delivering legal documents through postal mail to the intended recipient, often used as an acceptable method of service in certain legal proceedings.

Service By Publication

Service by publication is a method of serving legal documents by publishing them in a designated newspaper or periodical, typically used when the location of the recipient is unknown or their identity is concealed.

Service Of Process

Service of process is the formal procedure of delivering legal documents, such as summonses, complaints, or subpoenas, to notify parties involved in a legal proceeding of their rights, obligations, or pending actions.

Skip Trace

Skip trace is the process of locating and finding individuals or entities whose whereabouts are unknown, often conducted by private investigators or skip tracing professionals.

Standard Process

Standard process refers to the routine or customary procedure for serving legal documents, typically involving personal delivery to the named recipient or an authorized agent on their behalf.


A subpoena is a legal document issued by a court or attorney that compels a person to produce documents, records, or testify as a witness in a legal proceeding.

Substituted Service

Substituted service allows for the delivery of legal documents to a person other than the named recipient, typically an adult residing at the same address, when direct personal service is not possible.


A summons is a formal legal notice issued by a court, informing a defendant of a pending lawsuit or legal action and requiring their appearance or response within a specified time frame.


Surveillance involves the systematic observation and monitoring of individuals, locations, or activities for investigative, legal, or security purposes, often conducted by private investigators.


A stakeout is a covert or discreet operation where investigators or law enforcement personnel maintain continuous observation of a specific location, often to gather evidence or monitor activities.



A formal written order issued by a court, commanding a specific action or decision.

Jason Burke

Jason Burke is a self-made man who knows that hard work pays off. He has dedicated his life to helping other people with their legal problems, and he loves every minute of it!

He has over 24 years of experience in the field, all of which are focused on serving papers. Jason serves papers regulatory and for the last couple of years has served almost everything in Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Western Contra Costa Counties himself.

He pepares every single proof of service that D&R Legal Process Service produces to ensure that clients receive the highest quality they have come to expect from them.

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