Chapter 1 Supreme Court
Chapter 3 Courts of Appeals
Chapter 5 District Courts
Chapter 6 Bankruptcy Judges
Chapter 7 United States Court of Federal Claims
Chapter 11 Court of International Trade
Chapter 13 Assignment of Judges to Other Courts
Chapter 15 Conferences and Councils of Judges
Chapter 16 Complaints Against Judges and Judicial Discipline
Chapter 17 Resignation and Retirement of Justices and Judges
Chapter 19 Distribution of Reports and Digests
Chapter 21 General Provisions Applicable to Courts and Judges
Chapter 23 Civil Justice Expense and Delay Reduction Plans

Terms Used In U.S. Code > Title 28 > Part I - Organization of Courts

  • address: means a physical address or electronic address, such as an electronic mail address or temporarily assigned network address (including an Internet protocol address). See 50 USC 1841
  • Adjourn: A motion to adjourn a legislative chamber or a committee, if passed, ends that day's session.
  • Adjournment sine die: The end of a legislative session "without day." These adjournments are used to indicate the final adjournment of an annual or the two-year session of legislature.
  • Administration: means the Small Business Administration. See 15 USC 662
  • Administrator: means the Administrator of the Small Business Administration. See 15 USC 662
  • Administrator: means the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. See 15 USC 2602
  • Administratrix: The female counterpart of an administrator. See also
  • Advice and consent: Under the Constitution, presidential nominations for executive and judicial posts take effect only when confirmed by the Senate, and international treaties become effective only when the Senate approves them by a two-thirds vote.
  • Affidavit: A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths.
  • Agency: means the Central Intelligence Agency. See 50 USC 2001
  • agency: includes any department, independent establishment, commission, administration, authority, board or bureau of the United States or any corporation in which the United States has a proprietary interest, unless the context shows that such term was intended to be used in a more limited sense. See 28 USC 451
  • Agent of a foreign power: means --

    (1) any person other than a United States person, who--

    (A) acts in the United States as an officer or employee of a foreign power, or as a member of a foreign power as defined in subsection (a)(4), irrespective of whether the person is inside the United States. See 50 USC 1801

  • Aggrieved person: means a person who is the target of an electronic surveillance or any other person whose communications or activities were subject to electronic surveillance. See 50 USC 1801
  • Aggrieved person: means a person whose premises, property, information, or material is the target of physical search or any other person whose premises, property, information, or material was subject to physical search. See 50 USC 1821
  • aggrieved person: means any person--

    (A) whose telephone line was subject to the installation or use of a pen register or trap and trace device authorized by this subchapter. See 50 USC 1841

  • Amendment: A proposal to alter the text of a pending bill or other measure by striking out some of it, by inserting new language, or both. Before an amendment becomes part of the measure, thelegislature must agree to it.
  • Annuity: A periodic (usually annual) payment of a fixed sum of money for either the life of the recipient or for a fixed number of years. A series of payments under a contract from an insurance company, a trust company, or an individual. Annuity payments are made at regular intervals over a period of more than one full year.
  • Appeal: A request made after a trial, asking another court (usually the court of appeals) to decide whether the trial was conducted properly. To make such a request is "to appeal" or "to take an appeal." One who appeals is called the appellant.
  • Appellate: About appeals; an appellate court has the power to review the judgement of another lower court or tribunal.
  • Appraisal: A determination of property value.
  • appropriate congressional committees: means the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, or, where required by law for certain reporting purposes, the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate and the Select 1 Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives. See 50 USC 2204
  • Appropriation: The provision of funds, through an annual appropriations act or a permanent law, for federal agencies to make payments out of the Treasury for specified purposes. The formal federal spending process consists of two sequential steps: authorization
  • Assets: (1) The property comprising the estate of a deceased person, or (2) the property in a trust account.
  • association: when used in reference to a corporation, shall be deemed to embrace the words "successors and assigns of such company or association" in like manner as if these last-named words, or words of similar import, were expressed. See 1 USC 5
  • atomic energy: means all forms of energy released in the course of nuclear fission or nuclear transformation. See 50 USC 47f
  • atomic weapon: means any device utilizing atomic energy, exclusive of the means for transporting or propelling the device (where such means is a separable and divisible part of the device), the principal purpose of which is for use as, or for development of, a weapon, a weapon prototype, or a weapon test device. See 50 USC 47f
  • Attachment: A procedure by which a person's property is seized to pay judgments levied by the court.
  • Attorney General: means the Attorney General of the United States (or Acting Attorney General), the Deputy Attorney General, or, upon the designation of the Attorney General, the Assistant Attorney General designated as the Assistant Attorney General for National Security under section 507A of title 28. See 50 USC 1801
  • Bankruptcy: Refers to statutes and judicial proceedings involving persons or businesses that cannot pay their debts and seek the assistance of the court in getting a fresh start. Under the protection of the bankruptcy court, debtors may discharge their debts, perhaps by paying a portion of each debt. Bankruptcy judges preside over these proceedings.
  • Baseline: Projection of the receipts, outlays, and other budget amounts that would ensue in the future without any change in existing policy. Baseline projections are used to gauge the extent to which proposed legislation, if enacted into law, would alter current spending and revenue levels.
  • Beneficiary: A person who is entitled to receive the benefits or proceeds of a will, trust, insurance policy, retirement plan, annuity, or other contract. Source: OCC
  • Chambers: A judge's office.
  • Chief judge: The judge who has primary responsibility for the administration of a court but also decides cases; chief judges are determined by seniority.
  • Clerk of court: An officer appointed by the court to work with the chief judge in overseeing the court's administration, especially to assist in managing the flow of cases through the court and to maintain court records.
  • commerce: means trade, traffic, transportation, or other commerce (A) between a place in a State and any place outside of such State, or (B) which affects trade, traffic, transportation, or commerce described in clause (A). See 15 USC 2602
  • common carrier: means any person or entity transporting people or property by land, rail, water, or air for compensation. See 50 USC 1861
  • Complaint: A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.
  • Concurrent resolution: A legislative measure, designated "S. Con. Res." and numbered consecutively upon introduction, generally employed to address the sentiments of both chambers, to deal with issues or matters affecting both houses, such as a concurrent budget resolution, or to create a temporary joint committee. Concurrent resolutions are not submitted to the President/Governor and thus do not have the force of law.
  • Conferees: Legislators appointed to serve on conference committees. They are also called "managers." Conferees are usually appointed from the committee or committees that reported the legislation; they are expected to try and uphold their chamber's position on measures when they negotiate with conferees from the other chamber.
  • Conference committee: A temporary, ad hoc panel composed of conferees from both chamber of a legislature which is formed for the purpose of reconciling differences in legislation that has passed both chambers. Conference committees are usually convened to resolve bicameral differences on major and controversial legislation.
  • Conference report: The compromise product negotiated by the conference committee. The "conference report" is submitted to each chamber for its consideration, such as approval or disapproval.
  • congressional intelligence committees: means the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate. See 50 USC 2001
  • Contents: when used with respect to a communication, includes any information concerning the identity of the parties to such communication or the existence, substance, purport, or meaning of that communication. See 50 USC 1801
  • Continuance: Putting off of a hearing ot trial until a later time.
  • Contract: A legal written agreement that becomes binding when signed.
  • Conviction: A judgement of guilt against a criminal defendant.
  • Corporation: A legal entity owned by the holders of shares of stock that have been issued, and that can own, receive, and transfer property, and carry on business in its own name.
  • county: includes a parish, or any other equivalent subdivision of a State or Territory of the United States. See 1 USC 2
  • Damages: Money paid by defendants to successful plaintiffs in civil cases to compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries.
  • Defendant: In a civil suit, the person complained against; in a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.
  • department: means one of the executive departments enumerated in section 1 of Title 5, unless the context shows that such term was intended to describe the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of the government. See 18 USC 6
  • department: means one of the executive departments enumerated in section 1 of Title 5, unless the context shows that such term was intended to describe the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of the government. See 28 USC 451
  • Dependent: A person dependent for support upon another.
  • Devise: To gift property by will.
  • Director: means the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. See 50 USC 2001
  • Discovery: Lawyers' examination, before trial, of facts and documents in possession of the opponents to help the lawyers prepare for trial.
  • Dismissal: The dropping of a case by the judge without further consideration or hearing. Source:
  • Donor: The person who makes a gift.
  • Electronic surveillance: means --

    (1) the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire or radio communication sent by or intended to be received by a particular, known United States person who is in the United States, if the contents are acquired by intentionally targeting that United States person, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes. See 50 USC 1801

  • Embezzlement: In most states, embezzlement is defined as theft/larceny of assets (money or property) by a person in a position of trust or responsibility over those assets. Embezzlement typically occurs in the employment and corporate settings. Source: OCC
  • employee: includes an officer of the Agency. See 50 USC 2001
  • En banc: In the bench or "full bench." Refers to court sessions with the entire membership of a court participating rather than the usual quorum. U.S. courts of appeals usually sit in panels of three judges, but may expand to a larger number in certain cases. They are then said to be sitting en banc.
  • enemy: means any country, government, group, or person that has been engaged in hostilities, whether or not lawfully authorized, with the United States. See 50 USC 2204
  • Entitlement: A Federal program or provision of law that requires payments to any person or unit of government that meets the eligibility criteria established by law. Entitlements constitute a binding obligation on the part of the Federal Government, and eligible recipients have legal recourse if the obligation is not fulfilled. Social Security and veterans' compensation and pensions are examples of entitlement programs.
  • environment: includes water, air, and land and the interrelationship which exists among and between water, air, and land and all living things. See 15 USC 2602
  • Equitable: Pertaining to civil suits in "equity" rather than in "law." In English legal history, the courts of "law" could order the payment of damages and could afford no other remedy. See damages. A separate court of "equity" could order someone to do something or to cease to do something. See, e.g., injunction. In American jurisprudence, the federal courts have both legal and equitable power, but the distinction is still an important one. For example, a trial by jury is normally available in "law" cases but not in "equity" cases. Source: U.S. Courts
  • Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
  • Executor: A male person named in a will to carry out the decedent
  • Executrix: The female counterpart of an executor. See also
  • Fair market value: The price at which an asset would change hands in a transaction between a willing, informed buyer and a willing, informed seller.
  • Felony: A crime carrying a penalty of more than a year in prison.
  • Fiduciary: A trustee, executor, or administrator.
  • Fiscal year: The fiscal year is the accounting period for the government. For the federal government, this begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. The fiscal year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends; for example, fiscal year 2006 begins on October 1, 2005 and ends on September 30, 2006.
  • Foreign intelligence information: means --

    (1) information that relates to, and if concerning a United States person is necessary to, the ability of the United States to protect against--

    (A) actual or potential attack or other grave hostile acts of a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. See 50 USC 1801

  • Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court: means the court established by section 1803(a) of this title. See 50 USC 1821
  • Foreign power: means --

    (1) a foreign government or any component thereof, whether or not recognized by the United States. See 50 USC 1801

  • Fraud: Intentional deception resulting in injury to another.
  • fund balance: means the sum of--

    (A) the investments of the fund calculated at par value. See 50 USC 2001

  • Garnishment: Generally, garnishment is a court proceeding in which a creditor asks a court to order a third party who owes money to the debtor or otherwise holds assets belonging to the debtor to turn over to the creditor any of the debtor
  • Gift: A voluntary transfer or conveyance of property without consideration, or for less than full and adequate consideration based on fair market value.
  • Grand jury: agreement providing that a lender will delay exercising its rights (in the case of a mortgage,
  • Guardian: A person legally empowered and charged with the duty of taking care of and managing the property of another person who because of age, intellect, or health, is incapable of managing his (her) own affairs.
  • Impeachment: (1) The process of calling something into question, as in "impeaching the testimony of a witness." (2) The constitutional process whereby the House of Representatives may "impeach" (accuse of misconduct) high officers of the federal government for trial in the Senate.
  • Indemnification: In general, a collateral contract or assurance under which one person agrees to secure another person against either anticipated financial losses or potential adverse legal consequences. Source: FDIC
  • individual: shall include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development. See 1 USC 8
  • International terrorism: means activities that--

    (1) involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any State. See 50 USC 1801

  • Joint committee: Committees including membership from both houses of teh legislature. Joint committees are usually established with narrow jurisdictions and normally lack authority to report legislation.
  • Joint resolution: A legislative measure which requires the approval of both chambers.
  • judge of the United States: includes judges of the courts of appeals, district courts, Court of International Trade and any court created by Act of Congress, the judges of which are entitled to hold office during good behavior. See 28 USC 451
  • judicial district: means the districts enumerated in Chapter 5 of this title. See 28 USC 451
  • judicial officer: means a United States district court judge or a United States magistrate judge. See 28 USC 482
  • Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
  • Law clerk: Assist judges with research and drafting of opinions.
  • Lease: A contract transferring the use of property or occupancy of land, space, structures, or equipment in consideration of a payment (e.g., rent). Source: OCC
  • Liabilities: The aggregate of all debts and other legal obligations of a particular person or legal entity.
  • Litigation: A case, controversy, or lawsuit. Participants (plaintiffs and defendants) in lawsuits are called litigants.
  • lump-sum credit: means the unrefunded amount consisting of retirement deductions made from a participant's basic pay and amounts deposited by a participant covering earlier service, including any amounts deposited under section 2082(h) of this title. See 50 USC 2001
  • Magistrate judges: Judicial officers who assist U.S. district judges in getting cases ready for trial, who may decide some criminal and civil trials when both parties agree to have the case heard by a magistrate judge instead of a judge.
  • Majority leader: see Floor Leaders
  • manufacture: means to import into the customs territory of the United States (as defined in general note 2 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States), produce, or manufacture. See 15 USC 2602
  • marriage: means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word "spouse" refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. See 1 USC 7
  • Minority leader: See Floor Leaders
  • Misdemeanor: Usually a petty offense, a less serious crime than a felony, punishable by less than a year of confinement.
  • oath: includes affirmation, and "sworn" includes affirmed. See 1 USC 1
  • Oath: A promise to tell the truth.
  • Obligation: An order placed, contract awarded, service received, or similar transaction during a given period that will require payments during the same or a future period.
  • officer: includes any person authorized by law to perform the duties of the office. See 1 USC 1
  • Oversight: Committee review of the activities of a Federal agency or program.
  • Partnership: A voluntary contract between two or more persons to pool some or all of their assets into a business, with the agreement that there will be a proportional sharing of profits and losses.
  • Person: means any individual, including any officer or employee of the Federal Government, or any group, entity, association, corporation, or foreign power. See 50 USC 1801
  • person: means --

    (A) any natural person. See 50 USC 2204

  • Personal property: All property that is not real property.
  • Physical search: means any physical intrusion within the United States into premises or property (including examination of the interior of property by technical means) that is intended to result in a seizure, reproduction, inspection, or alteration of information, material, or property, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes, but does not include (A) "electronic surveillance" as defined in section 1801(f) of this title, or (B) the acquisition by the United States Government of foreign intelligence information from international or foreign communications, or foreign intelligence activities conducted in accordance with otherwise applicable Federal law involving a foreign electronic communications system, utilizing a means other than electronic surveillance as defined in section 1801(f) of this title. See 50 USC 1821
  • physical storage facility: means any business or entity that provides space for the storage of goods or materials, or services related to the storage of goods or materials, to the public or any segment thereof. See 50 USC 1861
  • Plaintiff: The person who files the complaint in a civil lawsuit.
  • Pleadings: Written statements of the parties in a civil case of their positions. In the federal courts, the principal pleadings are the complaint and the answer.
  • Precedent: A court decision in an earlier case with facts and law similar to a dispute currently before a court. Precedent will ordinarily govern the decision of a later similar case, unless a party can show that it was wrongly decided or that it differed in some significant way.
  • President pro tempore: A constitutionally recognized officer of the Senate who presides over the chamber in the absence of the Vice President. The President Pro Tempore (or, "president for a time") is elected by the Senate and is, by custom, the Senator of the majority party with the longest record of continuous service.
  • Pretrial conference: A meeting of the judge and lawyers to discuss which matters should be presented to the jury, to review evidence and witnesses, to set a timetable, and to discuss the settlement of the case.
  • Probable cause: A reasonable ground for belief that the offender violated a specific law.
  • Probation officers: Screen applicants for pretrial release and monitor convicted offenders released under court supervision.
  • process: means the preparation of a chemical substance or mixture, after its manufacture, for distribution in commerce--

    (A) in the same form or physical state as, or in a different form or physical state from, that in which it was received by the person so preparing such substance or mixture, or

    (B) as part of an article containing the chemical substance or mixture. See 15 USC 2602

  • Prosecute: To charge someone with a crime. A prosecutor tries a criminal case on behalf of the government.
  • public accommodation facility: means any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment that provides lodging to transient guests. See 50 USC 1861
  • Public debt: Cumulative amounts borrowed by the Treasury Department or the Federal Financing Bank from the public or from another fund or account. The public debt does not include agency debt (amounts borrowed by other agencies of the Federal Government). The total public debt is subject to a statutory limit.
  • Public defender: Represent defendants who can't afford an attorney in criminal matters.
  • Public law: A public bill or joint resolution that has passed both chambers and been enacted into law. Public laws have general applicability nationwide.
  • Quorum: The number of legislators that must be present to do business.
  • Remainder: An interest in property that takes effect in the future at a specified time or after the occurrence of some event, such as the death of a life tenant.
  • Reporter: Makes a record of court proceedings and prepares a transcript, and also publishes the court's opinions or decisions (in the courts of appeals).
  • Sabotage: means activities that involve a violation of chapter 105 of title 18, or that would involve such a violation if committed against the United States. See 50 USC 1801
  • Sentencing guidelines: A set of rules and principles established by the United States Sentencing Commission that trial judges use to determine the sentence for a convicted defendant. Source: U.S. Courts
  • Sequester: To separate. Sometimes juries are sequestered from outside influences during their deliberations.
  • Service of process: The service of writs or summonses to the appropriate party.
  • Settlement: Parties to a lawsuit resolve their difference without having a trial. Settlements often involve the payment of compensation by one party in satisfaction of the other party's claims.
  • special nuclear material: means plutonium, or uranium enriched in the isotope 233 or in the isotope 235, or any other material which is found to be special nuclear material pursuant to the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 [42 U. See 50 USC 47f
  • spoils of war: means enemy movable property lawfully captured, seized, confiscated, or found which has become United States property in accordance with the laws of war. See 50 USC 2204
  • State: includes the several States, the territories and possessions of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. See 15 USC 662
  • State: means any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and any territory or possession of the United States. See 50 USC 1801
  • Statute: A law passed by a legislature.
  • Statute of limitations: A law that sets the time within which parties must take action to enforce their rights.
  • Subpoena: A command to a witness to appear and give testimony.
  • Testimony: Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.
  • Tort: A civil wrong or breach of a duty to another person, as outlined by law. A very common tort is negligent operation of a motor vehicle that results in property damage and personal injury in an automobile accident.
  • Transcript: A written, word-for-word record of what was said, either in a proceeding such as a trial or during some other conversation, as in a transcript of a hearing or oral deposition.
  • Trial: A hearing that takes place when the defendant pleads "not guilty" and witnesses are required to come to court to give evidence.
  • Trustee: A person or institution holding and administering property in trust.
  • unfunded liability: means the estimated amount by which--

    (A) the present value of all benefits payable from the fund exceeds

    (B) the sum of--

    (i) the present value of deductions to be withheld from the future basic pay of participants subject to subchapter II and of future Agency contributions to be made on the behalf of such participants. See 50 USC 2001

  • United States: when used in the geographic sense, means all of the States. See 15 USC 2602
  • United States: when used in a geographic sense, means all areas under the territorial sovereignty of the United States and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. See 50 USC 1801
  • United States: when used in a geographical sense, includes Puerto Rico, all Territories and possessions of the United States and the Canal Zone. See 50 USC 47f
  • United States: means the several States the District of Columbia, and the territories and possessions of the United States. See 50 USC 1514
  • United States: as used in this title in a territorial sense, includes all places and waters, continental or insular, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, except the Canal Zone. See 18 USC 5
  • United States person: means a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence (as defined in section 1101(a)(20) of title 8), an unincorporated association a substantial number of members of which are citizens of the United States or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or a corporation which is incorporated in the United States, but does not include a corporation or an association which is a foreign power, as defined in subsection (a)(1), (2), or (3). See 50 USC 1801
  • vehicle: includes every description of carriage or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on land. See 1 USC 4
  • vehicle rental facility: means any person or entity that provides vehicles for rent, lease, loan, or other similar use to the public or any segment thereof. See 50 USC 1861
  • vessel: includes every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water. See 1 USC 3
  • Veto: The procedure established under the Constitution by which the President/Governor refuses to approve a bill or joint resolution and thus prevents its enactment into law. A regular veto occurs when the President/Governor returns the legislation to the house in which it originated. The President/Governor usually returns a vetoed bill with a message indicating his reasons for rejecting the measure. In Congress, the veto can be overridden only by a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House.
  • whoever: include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals. See 1 USC 1
  • Wire communication: means any communication while it is being carried by a wire, cable, or other like connection furnished or operated by any person engaged as a common carrier in providing or operating such facilities for the transmission of interstate or foreign communications. See 50 USC 1801
  • Writ: A formal written command, issued from the court, requiring the performance of a specific act.
  • Writ of certiorari: An order issued by the Supreme Court directing the lower court to transmit records for a case for which it will hear on appeal.
  • writing: includes printing and typewriting and reproductions of visual symbols by photographing, multigraphing, mimeographing, manifolding, or otherwise. See 1 USC 1