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vacate
v. 1) for a judge to set aside or annul an order or judgment which he/she finds was improper. 2) to move out of real estate and cease occupancy.

vagrancy
n. moving about without a means to support oneself, without a permanent home, and relying on begging. The same is true of "loitering."

valuable consideration
n. a necessary element of a contract, which confers a benefit on the other party. Valuable consideration can include money, work, performance, assets, a promise or abstaining from an act.

variance
n. 1) an exception to a zoning ordinance, authorized by the appropriate governmental body such as a planning commission, zoning board, county commissioners or city council. 2) a difference between what the prosecution has charged and what it has proved against a criminal defendant. 3) a difference between what is alleged in a civil complaint and what is proved. A substantial variance may be fatal to the prosecution's case against the accused or fatal to a plaintiff's (the person who filed the suit) lawsuit. In each case the judge can dismiss the case as a matter of law, without sending the factual issues to the jury. In criminal cases the test of a fatal variance is somewhat stricter than in a civil lawsuit, since a minor difference between the charge and the proof may mislead the defendant and deny him/her "due process."

vehicular manslaughter
n. the crime of causing the death of a human being due to illegal driving of an automobile, including gross negligence, drunk driving, reckless driving or speeding. Vehicular manslaughter can be charged as a misdemeanor (minor crime with a maximum punishment of a year in county jail or only a fine) or a felony (punishable by a term in state prison) depending on the circumstances. Gross negligence or driving a few miles over the speed limit might be charged as a misdemeanor, but drunk driving resulting in a fatality is most likely treated as a felony. Death of a passenger, including a loved one or friend, can be vehicular manslaughter if due to illegal driving.

vendee
n. a buyer, particularly of real property.

vendor
n. a seller, particularly of real property.

venire
(ven-eer-ay) n. the list from which jurors may be selected.

venue
n. 1) the proper or most convenient location for trial of a case.

verdict
n. the decision of a jury after a trial, which must be accepted by the trial judge to be final. A judgment by a judge sitting without a jury is not a verdict. A "special verdict" is a decision by the jury on the factual questions in the case, leaving the application of the law to those facts to the judge, who makes the final judgment. A "directed verdict" is a decision following an instruction by the judge that the jury can only bring in a specific verdict ("based on the evidence you must bring in a verdict of 'not guilty'"). A "chance verdict" (decided by lot or the flip of a coin), a "compromise verdict" (based on some jurors voting against their beliefs to break a deadlock) and a "quotient verdict" (averaging the amount each juror wants to award) are all improper and will result in a mistrial (having the verdict thrown out by the judge) or be cause for reversal of the judgment on appeal.

verification
n. the declaration under oath or upon penalty of perjury that a statement or pleading is true, located at the end of a document.

vest
v. to give an absolute right to title or ownership, including real property and pension rights.

vested
adj. referring to having an absolute right or title, when previously the holder of the right or title only had an expectation. Example: after 20 years of employment Akbar Khan's pension rights are now vested.

vested remainder
n. the absolute right to receive title after a presently existing interest in real property terminates. A "vested remainder" is created by deed or by a decree of distribution of an estate given by will.

vexatious litigation
n. filing a lawsuit with the knowledge that it has no legal basis, with its purpose to bother, annoy, embarrass and cause legal expenses to the defendant. Vexatious litigation includes continuing a lawsuit after discovery of the facts shows it has absolutely no merit. Upon judgment for the defendant, he/she has the right to file a suit for "malicious prosecution" against the original vexatious plaintiff.

vicarious liability
n. sometimes called "imputed liability," attachment of responsibility to a person for harm or damages caused by another person in either a negligence lawsuit or criminal prosecution. Thus, an employer of an employee who injures someone through negligence while in the scope of employment (doing work for the employer) is vicariously liable for damages to the injured person.

vigilante
n. someone who takes the law into his/her own hands by trying and/or punishing another person without any legal authority. A mother who shoots the alleged molester of her child is a vigilante.

viz
prep. to wit, or namely. Example: "There were several problems, viz: leaky roof, dangerous electrical system and broken windows."

void
adj. referring to a statute, contract, ruling or anything which is null and of no effect. A law or judgment found by an appeals court to be unconstitutional is void, a rescinded (mutually cancelled) contract is void, and a marriage which has been annulled by court judgment is void.

void for vagueness
adj. referring to a statute defining a crime which is so vague that a reasonable person of at least average intelligence could not determine what elements constitute the crime. Such a vague statute is unconstitutional on the basis that a defendant could not defend against a charge of a crime which he/she could not understand, and thus would be denied "due process" mandated.

voidable
adj. capable of being made void. Example: a contract entered into by a minor under 18 is voidable upon his/her reaching majority, but the minor may also affirm the contract at that time. "Voidable" is distinguished from "void" in that it means only that a thing can become void but is not necessarily void.

voir dire
(vwahr [with a near-silent "r"] deer) n. from French "to see to speak," the questioning of prospective jurors by a judge and attorneys in court. Voir dire is used to determine if any juror is biased and/or cannot deal with the issues fairly, or if there is cause not to allow a juror to serve (knowledge of the facts; acquaintanceship with parties, witnesses or attorneys; occupation which might lead to bias; prejudice against the death penalty; or previous experiences such as having been sued in a similar case). Actually one of the unspoken purposes of the voir dire is for the attorneys to get a feel for the personalities and likely views of the people on the jury panel. In some courts the judge asks most of the questions, while in others the lawyers are given substantial latitude and time to ask questions. Some jurors may be dismissed for cause by the judge, and the attorneys may excuse others in "peremptory" challenges without stating any reason. 2) questions asked to determine the competence of an alleged expert witness. 3) any hearing outside the presence of the jury held during trial.

voluntary bankruptcy
n. the filing for bankruptcy by a debtor who believes he/she/it cannot pay bills and has more debts than assets. Voluntary bankruptcy differs from "involuntary bankruptcy" filed by creditors owed money to bring the debtor before the bankruptcy court.

voting trust
n. a trust which solicits vote proxies of shareholders of a corporation to elect a board of directors and vote on other matters at a shareholders' meeting. A voting trust is usually operated by current directors to insure continued control, but occasionally a voting trust represents a person or group trying to gain control of the corporation.



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