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Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

CNO Legal Glossary

Capital offense
A crime punishable by death.
Case file
A complete collection of every document filed in a court case.
Case law
Previous judicial decisions on similar disputed questions. Another way of saying “legal precedent.”
The number of cases handled by a judge or a court.
Cause of action
A legal claim.
The offices of a judge and his or her staff.
The crime specified in the indictment or criminal complaint that the defendant is accused of committing.
Circumstantial evidence
Proof of a point by inference rather than directly. For example, snow on the ground is “circumstantial evidence” that it actually snowed, even though a witness does not testify to that fact.
Civil case
A case other than a criminal case, usually involving one party’s claim for money from the other.
The assertion of an existing right or a statement about a matter that is yet to be proven as true.
Class action
A lawsuit in which one or more members of a large group sue on behalf of the entire group. The court must find that the claims of the members contain questions of law or fact in common before the lawsuit can proceed as a class action.
Clear and convincing evidence
A standard that requires proof offered in a case to be highly likely or certain – more than a preponderance of evidence, but less than beyond a reasonable doubt.
Clerk of court
The court official who oversees management of the flow of cases through the court.
A document that acknowledges a civil debt or liability.
Property promised as security to satisfy a debt.
Collateral estoppel
A legal principle that prohibits parties from litigating issues that have already been decided.
Common law
Legal principles that arise from a series of judicial decisions. Common law principles can be changed by legislation.
Community control
A type of sentence that allows a convicted person to stay out of prison, but under control of the court for a specific amount of time.
Community-based correctional facility
A secure residential housing complex for felony offenders on supervision that provides comprehensive programs to address issues such as chemical dependency, education, employment, and family relationships.
Community service
A condition of sentencing that requires an individual to work without pay for a civic or nonprofit organization.
A plaintiff’s written statement that begins a civil lawsuit by setting forth the claims against the defendant.
Concurrent sentence
Prison terms for two or more offenses to be served at the same time, rather than one after the other.
Concurring opinion
A vote in favor of the court’s judgment, but for different reasons than stated in the majority opinion.
Consecutive sentence
Prison terms for two or more offenses to be served one after the other.
Conduct that defies the authority of a court or legislative body that can lead to time in custody or a fine.
Contingent fee
A fee charged for a lawyer’s services only if the lawsuit is successful or is settled favorably out of court.
The postponement of a court matter, such as a trial, to a future date.
An agreement between two or more people that creates an obligation to do or not to do particular things.
The wrongful use or withholding of someone else’s property to the exclusion of the owner.
A judgment that a defendant is guilty of a particular criminal offense.
Corroborating evidence
Information that strengthens, adds to, or confirms already existing evidence.
Legal advice. Also refers to the lawyers in a case.
An allegation in an indictment or information that charges a defendant with a specific crime. An indictment or information may contain multiple counts.
A defendant’s response to a plaintiff’s lawsuit that contains the defendant’s claims against the plaintiff.
The governmental entity authorized to resolve legal disputes. Sometimes refers to the judge.
Court costs
Civil, not criminal, obligations assessed for court operations. Court costs are mandatory, but trial courts can waive, suspend, or modify them. Synonymous with fees.
Court reporter
A person who makes a word-for-word record of what is said in court and produces a transcript if needed.
A person or entity who claims to be owed money by a debtor.
Cross appeal
An appeal made by the opposing side once an appeal of a court decision has been accepted.
To question a witness primarily to check or discredit the witness’ testimony, knowledge, or credibility.
The questioning of a witness by the opponent’s attorney primarily to check or discredit the witness’ testimony, knowledge, or credibility.

The CNO Legal Glossary is part of an ongoing effort to educate the public about the courts and explain the legal system. The glossary is an evolving, interactive public resource. CNO encourages readers to send in their ideas for words and phrases to be considered for inclusion in the glossary. Submit your suggestions to The content of the CNO Legal Glossary does not represent the legal views of the court and is not considered or consulted by the justices in case deliberations.