Words about papers in your civil court case.

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Words about papers 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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Affidavit: This is a paper signed by a person who swears that the things said in the paper are true. The person must sign the affidavit in front of a Notary Public. The Notary Public also signs, or notarizes, the affidavit. STATE OF LOUISIANA PARISH OF                       AFFIDAVIT Before me, the undersigned authority                       , personally came and appeared:      (Affiant)              ,     (marital status and mailing address), who after being duly sworn, deposed as follows:

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Answer: The “Answer” is one way a defendant responds to a lawsuit. You can lose important rights if you do not file an Answer on time. Try to talk with a lawyer before filing an Answer or other court papers.

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Certificate of Service: The certificate of service is a statement on court papers that says when and how the papers were delivered to those involved in the case. These papers usually do not require service by the Sheriff. Court rules say how court papers must be served (delivered). Some court papers must be served by the Sheriff’s office. Some court papers can be served by mail or in other ways. You must find out how court papers have to be delivered to others involved in your case.

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Court Papers and Copies: It is important to know the difference between original court papers and different kinds of copies of court papers.

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WARNING! The clerk will not actually file the papers in the record if the filing fee has not been paid or if there is not a court order saying that the person does not need to pay the filing fee in advance.

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Certified Copies: Certified copies are photocopies of original court papers with a special mark from the Clerk of Court. The mark shows that the papers are certified copies of the original. Only the office of the Clerk of Court can give you certified copies. There may be a fee to get certified copies.

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File-Stamped Copies: File-stamped copies are sometimes called “clocked” copies. They are copies of original papers stamped with the date and time of filing by the Clerk of Court. These are not the same as certified copies.

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True copies: While these are copies of the original document they are not certified with the seal of the Clerk of Court. Instead, they have a stamp stating that the document is a true copy.

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Original Court Papers and Documents: Original court papers or other documents have original signatures and any original notary signatures or seals. They are not copies or photocopies.

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Clerk’s Record: The clerk’s record is the court’s official collection of papers and related items in the case.

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Complaint (or Petition): A complaint is a court paper used to start a case. The complaint spells out the basic facts, legal issues and what the person bringing the case wants the court to do.

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Consent Decree or Consent Judgment: A judicially-approved agreement among or between the parties.

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Default Judgment: The court might issue a default judgment when one side does not file papers or appear in court to oppose the case.

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Demand Letter: A demand letter asks someone to do something by a given deadline to avoid legal action. Example: A letter demanding return of a security deposit within the time allowed by law.

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Deposition: A deposition is a question and answer session that is recorded by a person qualified to take down all of the questions and answers. The person answering questions swears to tell the truth. A deposition is sometimes used by one side to find out more about a case, or to save important information. If you get a notice to go to a deposition, try to talk with a lawyer first.

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Docket: Docket can mean different things in different situations. Here are some kinds of dockets.

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Case Docket: A case docket can mean the list of documents and events in a case. Hearing (or Trial Docket, or Calendar): A hearing docket or hearing calendar can be a list of cases scheduled for court on a certain day. Judge’s Docket: A judge’s docket can be a list of cases assigned to a particular judge.

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In Forma Pauperis (or “IFP”): This means “in the manner of a pauper,” or a person with no money. Courts sometimes use this to refer to people without money for filing fees and other costs. In Forma Pauperis or “IFP” also refers to someone who gets a court order to go forward with a case without paying costs and fees in advance.

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Judgment: A judgment is the court’s final decision on all or part of a case. Sometimes one case has judgments on different issues. A judge sometimes decides one or more issues in an Interim Judgment. Read your judgment and be sure you understand what issues it takes care of.

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Motion: Way to “move” or ask the court to do something. Many motions must be in writing.

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Order: An Order is the Court's ruling on a specific issue. An Order may also tell people what to do, like to show up in court at a specific day and time.

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Rule for Possession: A Rule for Possession is a court paper filed to try to get someone evicted. These cases can be heard very soon after they are filed. Do not wait to look for legal help if you get a Rule for Possession.

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Rule to Show Cause: A Rule to Show Cause asks the court to order the parties to show up in court at a certain date and time to deal with a particular issue. The Rule to Show Cause asks the Court to order the opposing side to show up and “show cause” why the person who filed the rule should not get what he or she is asking for in the case.

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Subpoena: There is more than one type of subpoena. A subpoena may order a person to show up at court or for another proceeding.

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. A subpoena duces tecum orders someone to produce documents or things. The court may punish a person who ignores a subpoena.

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Service and Citation: Service is the official way to deliver court papers to someone. The Citation is a special paper that should tell the person when to answer the court papers or show up in court. If you do not respond to court papers or show up in court, you could lose the case.

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Transcript : Written record of everything said at a hearing, trial, deposition or other event.

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Verification: Some court papers need “verification.” This is a statement a person signs in front of a Notary Public. The verification swears that the things said in the court papers are true.

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SWORN TO AND SUBSCRIBED BEFORE ME, a Notary Public in ______________, Louisiana, this ____day of _____________, 20___. ________________________ NOTARY PUBLIC Example: in an uncontested divorce case, the person filing the divorce must sign a verification in front of a Notary Public, and the verification must swear that the contents of the Petition are true.

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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.