Words about people in your civil court case.

Category: Others/ Misc

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Words about people in your civil court case

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These are words you may hear and see in Louisiana state court. These words are mostly about civil (not criminal) issues.

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Adversary: the other side of the dispute or case – your opponent ..

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Bailiff: Court employee or officer who keeps order in the courtroom.

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Clerk of Court: The Clerk of Court keeps official court records and files. You go to the office of the Clerk of Court to file court papers.

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Defendant: The person or party sued.

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Indigent: An “indigent” is a poor person. In court, an indigent can mean someone without money for court costs and fees.

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Judge: The judge handles the case in court and moves it along. Some cases are tried to a judge instead of a jury. Then the judge takes the evidence, applies the law, and decides the case.

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Hearing Officer: Some courts use hearing officers. The Hearing Officer is not a judge but an administrative officer. The Hearing Officer tries to resolve the issues between the parties, especially if the parties can come to an agreement. If the parties cannot agree, the Hearing Officer makes findings of facts and gives recommendations to the Judge. If a party disagrees with the Hearing Officer’s recommendations, that party must file an objection so that the case can be heard by the Judge or Domestic Commissioner. The recommendations of the Hearing Officer are usually made the “interim orders” of the Court until the Judge can hear the case.

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Lawyer (or Attorney): A lawyer is a person licensed to practice law and to represent people in court. A Louisiana lawyer is a person licensed by the State of Louisiana to practice law and to represent people in Louisiana state courts. Some lawyers are also licensed to appear in federal court. A lawyer may be licensed in one or more states.

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Litigant: Person or party involved in a lawsuit .

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Minor (Age of minority): In Louisiana, someone less than 18 years old. Major (age of majority): In Louisiana, someone 18 years old or older.

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Minor (age of minority): In Louisiana, someone less than 18 years old.

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Mover (or Movant): Person in a case who asks or moves the court to do something.

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Notary Public A Notary Public is a person licensed to notarize papers, like affidavits. A Notary Public must have a license. The notary typically signs the paper and may also use his or her official seal to make a raised mark on the paper. SWORN TO AND SUBSCRIBED BEFORE ME, a Notary Public in ______________, Louisiana , this ____day of _____________, 20___. _____________________________ NOTARY PUBLIC

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WARNING! Make sure you are dealing with a real Notary Public licensed in Louisiana. Sometimes a person is a lawyer as well as a Notary Public. These are two different things. Not every lawyer is a Notary Public and not every Notary Public is a lawyer. A Notary Public who is not also a lawyer cannot legally do things that only a lawyer can do.

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Party: A party is one side to a lawsuit. A case may have few or many parties. A party is often a person. Sometimes a party is a government agency or something other than an actual person, like a business.

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Petitioner (or Plaintiff):A Petitioner is someone who files a Petition to take legal action in court.

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Pro Se Litigant (or Self-Represented Litigant) A pro se litigant is someone handling his or her own case without a lawyer. In some places this is also called “pro per” or “in proper person.”

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Respondent: A respondent is the party who answers (“responds”) to court papers filed by a Petitioner.

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Sheriff's Deputy: A sheriff’s deputy has the power to deliver, or “serve,” court papers. Some kinds of court papers have to be delivered, or served, by the Sheriff’s office.

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Witness: A witness can testify or swear to facts he or she knows personally. Some court papers must be signed by a witness who swears that certain things in the papers are true.

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Witnesses can help you tell your side of the story in court. The other side can bring witnesses, too. The other side gets a chance to ask questions of your witness and you get a chance to ask questions of the other side’s witnesses.

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Southeast Louisiana Legal Services www.slls.org Free legal information for low-income people: www.lawhelp.org/la Resources for Louisiana’s public interest and pro bono advocates: www.probono.net/la Thank you for watching this presentation. Prepared in conjunction with the Pro Se Subcommittee of the Access to Justice Committee of the Louisiana State Bar Association.