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

  • 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.
  • Administratrix: The female counterpart of an administrator. See also
  • 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: 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
  • 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 18 USC 6
  • 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

  • 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.
  • Appellate: About appeals; an appellate court has the power to review the judgement of another lower court or tribunal.
  • Arraignment: A proceeding in which an individual who is accused of committing a crime is brought into court, told of the charges, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
  • Arrest: Taking physical custody of a person by lawful authority.
  • 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
  • Bail: Security given for the release of a criminal defendant or witness from legal custody (usually in the form of money) to secure his/her appearance on the day and time appointed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Common law: The legal system that originated in England and is now in use in the United States. It is based on judicial decisions rather than legislative action.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Conviction: A judgement of guilt against a criminal defendant.
  • court of the United States: includes the Supreme Court of the United States, courts of appeals, district courts constituted by chapter 5 of this title, including the 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Executor: A male person named in a will to carry out the decedent
  • Executrix: The female counterpart of an executor. See also
  • Federal public defender: An attorney employed by the federal courts on a full-time basis to provide legal defense to defendants who are unable to afford counsel. The judiciary administers the federal defender program pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act. Source: U.S. Courts
  • Felony: A crime carrying a penalty of more than a year in prison.
  • Fiduciary: A trustee, executor, or administrator.
  • 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

  • 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
  • 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.
  • Habeas corpus: A writ that is usually used to bring a prisoner before the court to determine the legality of his imprisonment. It may also be used to bring a person in custody before the court to give testimony, or to be prosecuted.
  • 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.
  • Injunction: An order of the court prohibiting (or compelling) the performance of a specific act to prevent irreparable damage or injury.
  • 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
  • Law clerk: Assist judges with research and drafting of opinions.
  • Lien: A claim against real or personal property in satisfaction of a debt.
  • Litigation: A case, controversy, or lawsuit. Participants (plaintiffs and defendants) in lawsuits are called litigants.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Mortgage: The written agreement pledging property to a creditor as collateral for a loan.
  • Mortgagee: The person to whom property is mortgaged and who has loaned the money.
  • Mortgagor: The person who pledges property to a creditor as collateral for a loan and who receives the money.
  • oath: includes affirmation, and "sworn" includes affirmed. See 1 USC 1
  • Oath: A promise to tell the truth.
  • organization: means a person other than an individual. See 18 USC 18
  • Original bill: A bill which is drafted by a committee. It is introduced by the committee or subcommittee chairman after the committee votes to report it.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Plaintiff: The person who files the complaint in a civil lawsuit.
  • Plea: In a criminal case, the defendant's statement pleading "guilty" or "not guilty" in answer to the charges, a declaration made in open court.
  • 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: A sentencing alternative to imprisonment in which the court releases convicted defendants under supervision as long as certain conditions are observed.
  • Probation officers: Screen applicants for pretrial release and monitor convicted offenders released under court supervision.
  • Prosecute: To charge someone with a crime. A prosecutor tries a criminal case on behalf of the government.
  • Public defender: Represent defendants who can't afford an attorney in criminal matters.
  • Quorum: The number of legislators that must be present to do business.
  • 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
  • Sequester: To separate. Sometimes juries are sequestered from outside influences during their deliberations.
  • 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
  • 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 of limitations: A law that sets the time within which parties must take action to enforce their rights.
  • Subpoena duces tecum: A command to a witness to produce documents.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • User fees: Fees charged to users of goods or services provided by the government. In levying or authorizing these fees, the legislature determines whether the revenue should go into the treasury or should be available to the agency providing the goods or services.
  • 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.