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gag order
n. a judge's order prohibiting the attorneys and the parties to a pending lawsuit or criminal prosecution from talking to the media or the public about the case. The supposed intent is to prevent prejudice due to pre-trial publicity which would influence potential jurors. A gag order has the secondary purpose of preventing the lawyers from trying the case in the press and on television, and thus creating a public mood (which could get ugly) in favor of one party or the other. Based on the "freedom of the press" provision. the court cannot constitutionally restrict the media from printing or broadcasting information about the case, so the only way is to put a gag on the participants under the court's control.

garnish
v. to obtain a court order directing a party holding funds (such as a bank) or about to pay wages (such as an employer) to an alleged debtor to set that money aside until the court determines (decides) how much the debtor owes to the creditor. Garnishing funds is also a warning to the party holding the funds (garnishee) not to pay them, and to inform the court as to how much money is being held. If the garnishee (such as a bank or employer) should mistakenly give the money to the account owner or employee, the garnishee will be liable to pay the creditor what he/she/it has coming.

garnishee
n. a person or entity, quite often a bank or employer, which receives a court order not to release funds held for or owed to a customer or employee, pending further order of the court.

garnishment
n. the entire process of petitioning for and getting a court order directing a person or entity (garnishee) to hold funds they owe to someone who allegedly is in debt to another person, often after a judgment has been rendered. Usually the actual amounts owed have not been figured out or are to be paid by installments directly or through the law enforcement officer.

gender bias
n. unequal treatment in employment opportunity (such as promotion, pay, benefits and privileges), and expectations due to attitudes based on the sex of an employee or group of employees. Gender bias can be a legitimate basis for a lawsuit under anti-discrimination statutes.

general appearance
n. an attorney's representation of a client in court for all purposes connected with a pending lawsuit or prosecution. After "appearing" in court, the attorney is then responsible for all future appearances in court unless officially relieved by court order or substitution of another attorney. A lawyer may be leery of making a general appearance unless all details of representation (such as the amount and payment of his/her fees) have been worked out with the client. This is distinguished from a special appearance, which is only for a particular purpose or court session and does not make the attorney responsible for future conduct of the case.

general counsel
n. the chief attorney for a corporation, who is paid usually full time for legal services. Attorneys who work only for one business are "house counsel."

general damages
n. monetary recovery (money won) in a lawsuit for injuries suffered (such as pain, suffering, inability to perform certain functions) or breach of contract for which there is no exact money value which can be calculated. They are distinguished from special damages, which are for specific costs, and from punitive (exemplary) damages for punishment and to set an example when malice, intent or gross negligence was a factor.

general denial
n. a statement in an answer to a lawsuit or claim by a defendant in a lawsuit, in which the defendant denies everything alleged in the complaint without specifically denying any allegation. It reads: "Defendant denies each and every allegation contained in the complaint on file herein," or similar inclusive language.

general partner
n. usually one of the owners and operators of a partnership, which is a joint business entered into for profit, in which responsibility for management, profits and, most importantly, the liability for debts is shared by the general partners. Anyone entering into a general partnership (the most common business organization involving more than one owner) must remember that each general partner is liable for all the debts of the partnership. Furthermore, any partner alone can bind the partnership on contracts.

general plan
n. a plan of a city, county or area which establishes zones for different types of development, uses, traffic patterns and future development.

generation skipping
adj., adv. referring to gifts made through trusts by a grandparent to a grandchild, skipping one's child (the grandchild's parent).

gift
n. the voluntary transfer of property (including money) to another person completely free of payment or strings while both the giver and the recipient are still alive. Large gifts are subject to the gift tax.

gift in contemplation of death
n. (called a gift causa mortis by lawyers), a gift of personal property (not real estate) by a person expecting to die soon due to ill health or age. Treating the gift as made in contemplation of death has the benefit of including the gift in the value of the estate, rather than making the gift subject to a separate gift tax charged the giver. If the giver gets over an apparently mortal illness, the gift is treated like any other gift for tax purposes.

gift tax
n. a tax on large gifts.

go bail
v. slang for putting up the bail money to get an accused defendant out of jail after an arrest or pending trial or appeal.

good cause
n. a legally sufficient reason for a ruling or other action by a judge. The language is commonly: "There being good cause shown, the court orders…."

good faith
n. honest intent to act without taking an unfair advantage over another person or to fulfill a promise to act, even when some legal technicality is not fulfilled. The term is applied to all kinds of transactions.

good samaritan rule
n. from a Biblical story, if a volunteer comes to the aid of an injured or ill person who is a stranger, the person giving the aid owes the stranger a duty of being reasonably careful. In some circumstances negligence could result in a claim of negligent care if the injuries or illness were made worse by the volunteer's negligence.

good title
n. ownership of real property which is totally free of claims against it and therefore can be sold, transferred or put up as security (placing a mortgage or deed of trust on the property).

goods
n. items held for sale in the regular course of business, as in a retail store.

goodwill
n. the benefit of a business having a good reputation under its name and regular patronage. Goodwill is not tangible like equipment, right to lease the premises or inventory of goods. It becomes important when a business is sold, since there can be an allocation in the sales price for the value of the goodwill, which is always a subjective estimate. Included in goodwill upon sale may be the right to do business without competition by the seller in the area and/or for a specified period of time. Sellers like the allocation to goodwill to be high since it is not subject to capital gains tax, while buyers prefer it to be low, because it cannot be depreciated for tax purposes like tangible assets. Goodwill also may be overestimated by a proud seller and believed by an unknowing buyer.

governmental immunity
n. the doctrine from English common law that no governmental body can be sued unless it gives permission. This protection resulted in terrible injustices, since public hospitals, government drivers and other employees could be negligent with impunity (free) from judgment. The Tort Claims Act and state waivers of immunity (with specific claims systems) have negated this rule, which stemmed from the days when kings set prerogatives.

grace period
n. a time stated in a contract in which a late payment or performance may be made without penalty. Often after the grace period ends without payment or performance by the person who is supposed to pay, the contract is suspended. Example: if a person does not pay his/her insurance payment (premium) by the stated deadline, he/she usually has a few days extra to pay before the absolute deadline. If the person does not pay by then, the insurance company cancels the contract, i.e. your insurance

grand jury
n. a jury in each county who serves for a term of a year and is usually selected from a list of nominees offered by the judges in the county.

grand larceny
n. the crime of theft of another's property (including money) over a certain value, as distinguished from petty (or petit) larceny in which the value is below the grand larceny limit.

grand theft
n. See also: grand larceny

grant
v. to transfer real property from a title holder (grantor) or holders to another (grantee) with or without payment. However, there is an important difference between the types of deeds used. A grant deed warrants (guarantees) that the grantor (seller) has full right and title to the property, while a quitclaim deed only grants whatever the grantor owns (which may be nothing) and guarantees nothing.

grant deed
n. the document which transfers title to real property or a real property interest from one party (grantor) to another (grantee). It must describe the property by legal description of boundaries and/or parcel numbers, be signed by all people transferring the property, and be acknowledged before a notary public. Importantly, a grant deed warrants that the grantor actually owned the title to transfer, which a quitclaim deed would not, since it only transfers what the grantor owned, if anything.

grantee
n. the party who receives title to real property (buyer, recipient, donee) from the seller (grantor) by a document called a grant deed or quitclaim deed.

grantor
n. the party who transfers title in real property (seller, giver) to another (buyer, recipient, donee) by grant deed or quitclaim deed.

grantor-grantee index
n. a set of books and/or computerized lists found in the office of every Recorder of Deeds which lists all recorded transfers of title by deed (as well as liens, mortgages, deeds of trust and other documents affecting title). Each yearly index is usually alphabetized by the last names of grantors (the party transferring title) and grantee (the recipients of title). The listing includes the date of transfer, and cross-references to the book and page or document number where a copy of the document was recorded and can be examined. This is a key instrument in tracking a chain of title.

gratuitous
adj. or adv. voluntary or free.

gravamen
n. Latin for "to weigh down," the basic gist of every claim (cause of action) or charge in a complaint filed to begin a lawsuit. Example: in an accident case, the gravamen may be the negligence of the defendant, and in a contract case, it may be the breach of the defendant.

gross income
n. in calculating income tax, the income of an individual or business from all sources before deducting allowable expenses, which will result in net income.

gross negligence
n. carelessness which is in reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others, and is so great it appears to be a conscious violation of other people's rights to safety. It is more than simple inadvertence, but it is just shy of being intentionally evil. If one has borrowed or contracted to take care of another's property, then gross negligence is the failure to actively take the care as one would of his/her own property. If gross negligence is found by the trier of fact (judge or jury), it can result in the award of punitive damages on top of general and special damages.

guarantee
1) v. to pledge or agree to be responsible for another's debt or contractual performance if that other person does not pay or perform. Usually, the party receiving the guarantee will first try to collect or obtain performance from the debtor before trying to collect from the one making the guarantee (guarantor). 2) the promise to pay another's debt or fulfill contract obligations if that party fails to pay or perform. 3) n. occasionally, the person to whom the guarantee is made. 4) a promise to make a product good if it has some defect.

guarantor
n. a person or entity that agrees to be responsible for another's debt or performance under a contract if the other fails to pay or perform.

guaranty
v. and n. an older spelling of guarantee, which the renowned Oxford etymologist Dr. Walter Skeat called a "better spelling" (1882).

guardian
n. a person who has been appointed by a judge to take care of a minor child or incompetent adult (both called "ward") personally and/or manage that person's affairs. To become a guardian of a child either the party intending to be the guardian or another family member, a close friend or a local official responsible for a minor's welfare will petition the court to appoint the guardian. In the case of a minor, the guardianship remains under court supervision until the child reaches majority at 18. Naming someone in a will as guardian of one's child in case of the death of the parent is merely a nomination. The judge does not have to honor that request, although he/she usually does. Sadly, often a parent must petition to become the guardian of his/her child's "estate" if the child inherits or receives a gift of substantial assets, including the situation in which a parent gives his/her own child an interest in real property or stocks. Therefore, that type of gift should be avoided and a trust created instead. While the term "guardian" may refer to someone who is appointed to care for and/or handle the affairs of a person who is incompetent or incapable of administering his/her affairs, this is more often called a "conservator" under a conservatorship.

guardian ad litem
n. a person appointed by the court only to take legal action on behalf of a minor or an adult not able to handle his/her own affairs. Duties may include filing a lawsuit for an injured child, defending a lawsuit or filing a claim against an estate. Usually a parent will file a petition to be appointed the guardian ad litem of a child hurt in an accident at the same time the lawsuit is filed.

guest
n. 1) in general, a person paying to stay in a hotel for a short time. 2) a person staying at another's residence without charge, called a "social guest." An important distinction is that a non-paying guest is not owed the duty of being provided a safe boarding space, as is a paying customer. Thus if a social guest trips on a slippery rug, he/she has no right to sue for negligence, but a paying guest might.

guilty
adj. having been convicted of a crime or having admitted the commission of a crime by pleading "guilty" (saying you did it). A defendant may also be found guilty by a judge after a plea of "no contest," or in Latin nolo contendere. The term "guilty" is also sometimes applied to persons against whom a judgment has been found in a lawsuit for a civil wrong, such as negligence or some intentional act like assault or fraud, but that is a confusing misuse of the word since it should only apply to a criminal charge.



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