PARTY: A person, business, organization or government agency actively involved in the prosecution or defense of a legal proceeding.
PECUNIARY: Consisting of money.
PERJURY: The criminal offense of making a false statement under oath.
PERSON: In a legal context, "person" includes individuals and corporate groups.
PERSONAL JURISDICTION: The court will only have personal jurisdiction, also referred to as "in personam jurisdiction," over a defendant if the defendant has been personally served or accepted service of court papers, and the defendant has at least some minimum contact with the state in which the court is located. Minimum contact varies on a case-by-case basis given the quality and quantity of defendant's contacts with the state.
PERSONAL PROPERTY: Tangible physical property (cameras, clothing, luggage) and intangible property (bank accounts, stocks and bonds). Such property does not include land or rights in land.
PLAINTIFF: The person(s) or entity filing a claim against another person or entity.
PLEADING: A formal statement of facts and law, generally written, propounding the case of action or the defense of a legal case.
PRECEDENT: A previously decided case that guides the decision of future cases.
PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS: Preliminary questions concern the qualification of a person to be a witness, the existence of a privilege, or the admissibility of evidence.
PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE: Greater weight of the evidence, often described as 50.1%, which is the common standard in civil cases.
PRIMA FACIE: "On the face of it." It is a fact presumed to be true on its face unless disproved by evidence to the contrary. Typically in opposing a Summary Judgment you need only make a prima facie showing you can succeed at trial.
PRIVATE PROCESS SERVER: Private person who serves each defendant, complying with all service requirements. Most courts and some sheriffs' offices will provide a list, as well as the yellow pages.
PROOF OF SERVICE: A document signed by the process server under oath stating that the defendant, or its agent has been served and the details of that service, whether by personal delivery or substitute service.
PRO SE: Litigating a case on one's own behalf without an attorney.
PROXIMATE CAUSE: The act that caused an event to occur. A person generally is liable only if an injury was proximately caused by his/her action of his/her failure to act when he/she had a duty to act or his/her employee.
PUBLIC RECORD: The contents of an official record, or document authorized to be recorded or filed and actually recorded or filed which can be compared to the original to be certified as a copy of the original.
PUNITIVE DAMAGES: Damages in excess of actual damages that are assessed as a form of punishment. Typically, punitive damages apply when a defendant's behavior is found to have been willful or malicious.