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Glossary

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n.o.v.
adj. shorthand acronym of Latin for non obstante veredicto (nahn ahb-stan-tuh very-dick-toe) meaning "notwithstanding the verdict," referring to a decision of a judge to set aside (reverse) a jury's decision in favor of one party in a lawsuit or a guilty verdict when the judge is convinced the judgment is not reasonably supported by the facts and/or the law. The result is called a "judgment N.O.V." Granting a motion for such a ruling means the court realizes it should have directed the jury to reach an opposite verdict in the first place.

natural person
n. a real human being, as distinguished from a corporation, which is often treated at law as a fictitious person.

necessary
adj., adv. 1) essential. 2) less forcefully, it can mean convenient, useful or making good sense.

necessary inference
n. 1) a conclusion militated by reason and logic applied to known facts. 2) unavoidable meaning.

necessary party
n. a person or entity whose interests will be affected by the outcome of a lawsuit, whose absence as a party in the suit prevents a judgment on all issues, but who cannot be joined in the lawsuit because that would deny jurisdiction to the particular court. In this rare technical situation, a necessary party who is not in the suit differs from an "indispensable party," who must be joined if the lawsuit is to proceed, and from a "proper party," who could be joined but is not essential.

negative declaration
n. a finding by a city council or other local government that a proposed development or project would have no effect on the environment and therefore the developer need not prepare and file an "environmental impact report."

negative pregnant
n. a denial of an allegation in which a person actually admits more than he/she denies by denying only a part of the alleged fact. Example: Plaintiff alleges Defendant "misused more than a hundred thousand rupees placed in his trust in 1994." Defendant denies the amount was more than a hundred thousand, and denies it was given to him in 1994. Thus, he did not deny the misuse, just the amount and the date.

negligence
n. failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances, or taking action which such a reasonable person would not. Negligence is accidental as distinguished from "intentional torts" (assault or trespass, for example) or from crimes, but a crime can also constitute negligence, such as reckless driving. Negligence can result in all types of accidents causing physical and/or property damage, but can also include business errors and miscalculations, such as a sloppy land survey. In making a claim for damages based on an allegation of another's negligence, the injured party (plaintiff) must prove: a) that the party alleged to be negligent had a duty to the injured party-specifically to the one injured or to the general public, b) that the defendant's action (or failure to act) was negligent-not what a reasonably prudent person would have done, c) that the damages were caused ("proximately caused") by the negligence. An added factor in the formula for determining negligence is whether the damages were "reasonably foreseeable" at the time of the alleged carelessness. If the injury is caused by something owned or controlled by the supposedly negligent party, but how the accident actually occurred is not known (like a ton of bricks falls from a construction job), negligence can be found based on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor (Latin for "the thing speaks for itself").

negligence per se
(purr say) n. negligence due to the violation of a public duty, such as high speed driving.

negligent
adj., adv. careless in not fulfilling responsibility.

negotiable instrument
n. check, promissory note, bill of exchange, security or any document representing money payable which can be transferred to another by handing it over (delivery) and/or endorsing it (signing one's name on the back either with no instructions or directing it to another, such as "pay to the order of Ravi Shankar").

negotiation
n. 1) the transfer of a check, promissory note, bill of exchange or other negotiable instrument to another for money, goods, services or other benefit. 2) give-and-take discussion or conference in an attempt to reach an agreement or settle a dispute.

net
n., adj. the amount of money or value remaining after all costs, losses, taxes, depreciation of value and other expenses and deductions have been paid and/or subtracted. Thus the term is used in net profit, net income, net loss, net worth or net estate.

net estate
n. the remaining estate of a person who has died, calculated by taking the value of all assets and subtracting all debts of the person who died, including funeral costs, expenses of administering the estate and any other allowable deductions.

new matter
n. newly claimed facts or legal issues raised (brought up) by a defendant (the party being sued) to defend himself/herself/itself beyond just denying the allegations in the complaint filed by the person bringing the lawsuit (plaintiff). Such new matters are called "affirmative defenses."

next friend
n. a person (often a relative) who voluntarily helps a minor or incompetent in legal matters, particularly by filing a lawsuit.

next of kin
n. 1) the nearest blood relatives of a person who has died, including the surviving spouse. 2) anyone who would receive a portion of the estate by the laws of descent and distribution if there is no will.

nihil
(ni [as in it]-hill) n. from Latin for nothing.

nil
n. from Latin nihil, nothing or zero.

nisi prius
(nee-see pree-us) adj. Latin for "unless first," in some jurisdictions it means the original trial court which heard a case as distinguished from a court of appeals, as in court nisi prius. "Court of original jurisdiction" is often substituted for the term nisi prius.

no contest
n. in criminal law, a defendant's plea in court that he/she will not contest the charge of a particular crime, also called nolo contendere. While technically not an admission of guilt for commission of the crime, the judge will treat a plea of "no contest" as such an admission and proceed to find the defendant guilty as charged. A "no contest" plea is often made in cases in which there is also a possible lawsuit for damages by a person injured by the criminal conduct (such as reckless driving, assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault), because it cannot be used in the civil lawsuit as an admission of fault. "No contest" is also used where there has been a "plea bargain" in which the defendant does not want to say he/she is guilty but accepts the sentence recommended by the prosecutor in exchange for not contesting the charge (which is often reduced to a lesser crime). It is standard practice for the judge to ask either the attorneys or the defendant, "Is there a factual basis for the plea?" before accepting it and finding the defendant guilty.

no fault divorce
n. divorces (dissolutions) in which neither spouse is required to prove "fault" or marital misconduct on the part of the other. To obtain a divorce a spouse must merely assert incompatibility or irreconcilable differences, meaning the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This means there is no defense to a divorce petition (so a spouse cannot threaten to "fight" a divorce), there is no derogatory testimony, and marital misconduct cannot be used to achieve a division of property favorable to the "innocent" spouse.

no-par stock
n. shares in a corporation which are issued without a price per share stated on the stock certificate.

nolle prosequi
(no-lay pro-say-kwee) n. Latin for "we shall no longer prosecute," which is a declaration made to the judge by a prosecutor in a criminal case (or by a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit) either before or during trial, meaning the case against the defendant is being dropped. The statement is an admission that the charges cannot be proved, that evidence has demonstrated either innocence or a fatal flaw in the prosecution's claim or the district attorney has become convinced the accused is innocent.

nolo contendere
(no-low kahn-ten-durr-ray) n. Latin for "I will not contest" the charges, which is a plea made by a defendant to a criminal charge, allowing the judge to then find him/her guilty, often called a "plea of no contest."

nominal damages
n. a small amount of money awarded to a plaintiff in a lawsuit to show he/she was right but suffered no substantial harm.

nominal party
n. a defendant or a plaintiff included in a lawsuit because of a technical connection with the matter in dispute, and necessary for the court to decide all issues and make a proper judgment, but with no responsibility, no fault and no right to recovery. Example: suing an escrow holder or trustee who is holding a title to real property or deposited funds but has no interest in the property, funds or the lawsuit. Thus the court can order the nominal defendant to transfer title or pay out the funds when the rights of the real parties are decided.

nominee
n. 1) a person or entity who is requested or named to act for another, such as an agent or trustee. 2) a potential successor to another's rights under a contract. 3) the executor proposed by a person in a will is a nominee until officially appointed by the judge after the testator (will writer) has died, and the will is submitted for probate (administration of the estate). 4) a person chosen by convention, petition or primary election to be a candidate for public office.

non compos mentis
(nahn com-pose meant-is) adj. referring to someone who is insane or not mentally competent to conduct one's affairs.

non sequitur
(nahn sek [as in heck]-kwit-her) n. Latin for "it does not follow." The term usually means that a conclusion does not logically follow from the facts or law, stated: "That's a non sequitur."

non-conforming use
n. the existing use (residential, commercial, agricultural, light industrial, etc.) of a parcel of real property which is zoned for a more limited or other use in the city or county's general plan. Usually such use is permitted only if the property was being so used before the adoption of the zoning ordinance which it violates. Example: a corner parcel has been used for a gasoline station for years, and now the city has zoned the entire area as residential (for homes only). The non-conforming use will be allowed as "grandfathered in," but if the station is torn down the only use would be residential.

non-contestability clause
n. an insurance policy provision which requires the insurance company to challenge any statement in the application for the insurance within a specific time. This prevents the company from denying coverage on the basis of fraud or error in the application when a claim is made by the policyholder.

non-contiguous
adj. referring to two or more parcels of real property which are not connected.

non-discretionary trust
n. a trust in which the trustee is directed to invest only in specifically named securities and to diversify the investments among certain types of securities. The trustee has no discretion or personal decision-making power in the matter.

non-feasance
n. the failure of an agent (employee) to perform a task he/she has agreed to do for his/her principal (employer), as distinguished from "misfeasance" (performing poorly) or "malfeasance" (performing illegally or wrongly).

non-profit corporation
n. an organization incorporated under state as operating for educational, charitable, social, religious, civic or humanitarian purposes. A non-profit corporation (also called "not for profit corporation") is formed by incorporators, has a board of directors and officers, but no shareholders. These incorporators, directors and officers may not receive a distribution of (any money from) profits, but officers and management may be paid reasonable salaries for services to the corporation.

non-suit
n. a ruling by the judge in a lawsuit either when the plaintiff (the party who filed the suit) does not proceed to trial at the appointed time or has presented all his/her/its evidence and, in the judge's opinion, there is no evidence which could prove the plaintiff's case. A non-suit terminates the trial at that point and results in a dismissal of the plaintiff's case and judgment for the defendant.

not guilty
n. 1) plea of a person who claims not to have committed the crime of which he/she is accused, made in court when arraigned (first brought before a judge) or at a later time set by the court. The choices of what one can plea are: guilty, not guilty, no contest, not guilty by reason of insanity, or incompetent to stand trial.

not guilty by reason of insanity
n. plea in court of a person charged with a crime who admits the criminal act, but whose attorney claims he/she was so mentally disturbed at the time of the crime that he/she lacked the capacity to have intended to commit a crime. Such a plea requires that the court set a trial on the issue of insanity alone either by a judge. A finding of insanity will result in a verdict of "not guilty," but, if the condition still exists, it may result in incarceration in a mental facility for the criminally insane or confinement in a mental hospital. If the insanity no longer exists (temporary insanity), the judge has the option to require some psychological therapy. This is not the same as insane at time of trial and thus incompetent to stand trial, which will postpone trial (in all likelihood forever) pending recovery while the defendant is confined to a mental facility.

notary
notary public

notary public
n. a person authorized by the state in which the person resides to administer oaths (swearings to truth of a statement), take acknowledgments, certify documents and to take depositions if the notary is also a court reporter. The signature and seal or stamp of a notary public is necessary to attest to the oath of truth of a person making an affidavit and to attest that a person has acknowledged that he/she executed a deed, power of attorney or other document, and is required for recording in public records. A notary public must see proof of identity (e.g. driver's license) of those swearing and keep an official journal of documents notarized. The authority is good only in the state which appoints the notary.

note
n. a promissory note, a written statement of debt by one or more people to one or more people, with a statement of a specific amount owed or due, date it is due, interest (if any) on the amount, and other terms such as installments, penalty for late payment, full amount due if delinquent, how secured (as by real property), and attorneys' fees and costs if required to collect on the note.

notice
n. 1) information, usually in writing in all legal proceedings, of all documents filed, decisions, requests, motions, petitions, and upcoming dates. Notice is a vital principle of fairness and due process in legal procedure and must be given to both parties, to all those affected by a lawsuit or legal proceeding, to the opposing attorney and to the court. In short, neither a party nor the court can operate in secret, make private overtures or conceal actions. Notice of a lawsuit or petition for a court order begins with personal service on the defendants (delivery of notice to the person) of the complaint or petition, together with a summons or order to appear (or file an answer) in court. Thereafter, if a party is represented by an attorney, notice can usually be given to the attorney by mail. If there is a so-called ex parte hearing (an emergency session with a judge with only the requesting party or his/her attorney present) the party wanting the hearing must make a diligent attempt to give notice to the other party. A court may allow "constructive" notice by publication in an approved legal newspaper of a summons in a lawsuit. 2) a writing informing a party to a contract, promissory note, lease, rental agreement or other legal relationship of a delinquency in payment, default, intent to foreclose, notice to pay rent or quit (leave) or other notice required by the agreement, mortgage, deed of trust or statute. 3) information. 4) being informed of a fact, or should have known based on the circumstances, as "he had notice that the roof was not water-tight."

notice of default
n. a notice to a borrower with property as security under a mortgage or deed of trust that he/she is delinquent in payments. If the delinquency (money owed and late), plus costs of preparing the legal papers for the default, are not paid within a certain time, foreclosure proceedings may be commenced. Other people with funds secured by the same property are usually entitled to receive copies of the notice of default.

notice to quit
n. the notice given by a landlord (owner) to a tenant to leave the premises (quit) either by a certain date (usually 30 days) or to pay overdue rent or correct some other default (having pets, having caused damage, too many roommates, using the property for illegal purposes, etc.) within a short time (usually three days). A notice to quit must contain certain information, such as: names of the persons to leave, whether their tenancy is by written or oral agreement, an amount of any financial delinquency and the period it covers, and to whom they should surrender the premises. Such notice and failure of the tenant to quit (leave) is a requirement to bring a lawsuit for unlawful detainer (often referred to as "eviction").

notorious possession
n. occupation of real property or holding personal property in a way which anyone can observe is as if the person is the owner.

novation
n. agreement of parties to a contract to substitute a new contract for the old one. It extinguishes (cancels) the old agreement. A novation is often used when the parties find that payments or performance cannot be made under the terms of the original agreement, or the debtor will be forced to default or go into bankruptcy unless the debt is restructured. While voluntary, a novation is often the only way any funds can be paid.

noxious
adj. harmful to health, often referring to nuisances.

nugatory
adj. of no force or effect; invalid. Example: a statute which is unconstitutional is a nugatory law.

nuisance
n. the unreasonable, unwarranted and/or unlawful use of property, which causes inconvenience or damage to others, either to individuals and/or to the general public. Nuisances can include noxious smells, noise, burning, misdirection of water onto other property, illegal gambling, unauthorized collections of rusting autos, indecent signs and pictures on businesses and a host of bothersome activities. Where illegal they can be abated (changed, repaired or improved) by criminal or quasi-criminal charges. If a nuisance interferes with another person's quiet or peaceful or pleasant use of his/her property, it may be the basis for a lawsuit for damages and/or an injunction ordering the person or entity causing the nuisance to desist (stop) or limit the activity (such as closing down an activity in the evening).

nullity
n. something which may be treated as nothing, as if it did not exist or never happened. This can occur by court ruling or enactment of a statute. The most common example is a nullity of a marriage by a court judgment.

nunc pro tunc
(nuhnk proh tuhnk) adj. Latin for "now for then," this refers to changing back to an earlier date of an order, judgment or filing of a document. Such a retroactive re-dating requires a court order which can be obtained by a showing that the earlier date would have been legal, and there was error, accidental omission or neglect which has caused a problem or inconvenience which can be cured. Often the judge will grant the nunc pro tunc order ex parte (with only the applicant appearing and without notice). Examples: a court clerk fails to file an answer when he/she received it, and a nunc pro tunc date of filing is needed to meet the legal deadline (statute of limitations); a final divorce judgment is misdirected and, therefore, not signed and dated until the day after the re-marriage of one of the parties-the nunc pro tunc order will prevent the appearance or actuality of a bigamous marriage.



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