Dictionary of the Law. Glossary of Legal Terms and Definitions starting with letters: G, H, I and J
Grand jury | A body of 16-23 citizens who listen to evidence of criminal allegations, which is presented by the prosecutors, and determine whether there is probable cause to believe an individual committed an offense. See also indictment and U.S. attorney.
Habeas corpus | Latin, meaning "you have the body." A writ of habeas corpus generally is a judicial order forcing law enforcement authorities to produce a prisoner they are holding, and to justify the prisoner's continued confinement. Federal judges receive petitions for a writ of habeas corpus from state prison inmates who say their state prosecutions violated federally protected rights in some way.
Hearsay Evidence presented by a witness who did not see or hear the incident in question but heard about it from someone else. With some exceptions, hearsay generally is not admissible as evidence at trial
Home confinement | A special condition the court imposes that requires an individual to remain at home except for certain approved activities such as work and medical appointments. Home confinement may include the use of electronic monitoring equipment – a transmitter attached to the wrist or the ankle – to help ensure that the person stays at home as required.
Impeachment 1. The process of calling a witness's testimony into doubt. For example, if the attorney can show that the witness may have fabricated portions of his testimony, the witness is said to be "impeached;" 2. The constitutional process whereby the House of Representatives may "impeach" (accuse of misconduct) high officers of the federal government, who are then tried by the Senate.
In camera | Latin, meaning in a judge's chambers. Often means outside the presence of a jury and the public. In private.
In forma pauperis | "In the manner of a pauper." Permission given by the court to a person to file a case without payment of the required court fees because the person cannot pay them.
Inculpatory evidence | Evidence indicating that a defendant did commit the crime.
Indictment The formal charge issued by a grand jury stating that there is enough evidence that the defendant committed the crime to justify having a trial; it is used primarily for felonies. See also information.
Information A formal accusation by a government attorney that the defendant committed a misdemeanor. See also indictment.
Injunction A court order preventing one or more named parties from taking some action. A preliminary injunction often is issued to allow fact-finding, so a judge can determine whether a permanent injunction is justified.
Insider (of corporate debtor) | A director, officer, or person in control of the debtor; a partnership in which the debtor is a general partner; a general partner of the debtor; or a relative of a general partner, director, officer, or person in control of the debtor.
Insider (of individual debtor) | Any relative of the debtor or of a general partner of the debtor; partnership in which the debtor is a general partner; general partner of the debtor; or corporation of which the debtor is a director, officer, or person in control.
Interrogatories A form of discovery consisting of written questions to be answered in writing and under oath.
Issue 1. The disputed point between parties in a lawsuit; 2. To send out officially, as in a court issuing an order.
Joint administration | A court-approved mechanism under which two or more cases can be administered together. (Assuming no conflicts of interest, these separate businesses or individuals can pool their resources, hire the same professionals, etc.)
Joint petition | One bankruptcy petition filed by a husband and wife together.
Judge An official of the Judicial branch with authority to decide lawsuits brought before courts. Used generically, the term judge may also refer to all judicial officers, including Supreme Court justices.
Judgeship The position of judge. By statute, Congress authorizes the number of judgeships for each district and appellate court.
Judgment The official decision of a court finally resolving the dispute between the parties to the lawsuit.
Judicial Conference of the United States | The policy-making entity for the federal court system. A 27-judge body whose presiding officer is the Chief Justice of the United States.
Jurisdiction The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a certain type of case. It also is used as a synonym for venue, meaning the geographic area over which the court has territorial jurisdiction to decide cases.
Jurisprudence The study of law and the structure of the legal system
Jury The group of persons selected to hear the evidence in a trial and render a verdict on matters of fact. See also grand jury.
Jury instructions | A judge's directions to the jury before it begins deliberations regarding the factual questions it must answer and the legal rules that it must apply.