Duhaime's Law Dictionary

D
Legal definitions for terms and concepts beginning with D

Dilatory Plea
A formal challenge which questions not the cause of action, but the propriety of the suit, or the mode in which the remedy is sought.
Diligence
The degree of attention or care required of a person in a given situation.
Dillon's Rule
A rule of judicial interpretation that a municipality may exercise only those powers expressly conferred by statute, necessarily or fairly implied by the expressed power in the statute, or essential and not merely convenient.
Diploma
A certificate of completion of a college or university program of study.
Diplomacy
Peaceful representations between states.
Diplomat
An official representative of a state, present in another state for the purposes of general representation of the state-of-origin or for the purpose of specific international negotiations on behalf of the diplomat's state-of-origin.
Diplomatic Immunity
Immunity extended to diplomat officers from criminal and civil jurisdiction of their host state.
Dipsomania
An irresistible impulse to indulge in intoxicants; chronic alcoholism.
Direct Contempt
Contempt of Court which is aimed expressly against the dignity or authority of the Court itself in the person of its Judges or officers.
Directed Verdict
When the Court stops a trial determining that an essential fact has not been proven.
Direct Evidence
Evidence tendered in trial in the form of recounting of personal observations or a document which directly establishes a fact sought to be proven.
Director
Senior manager(s) selected by shareholders to manage a corporation.
Direct Tax
A tax demanded from the very persons who it is intended or desired should pay it.
Disability Insurance
An insurance contract in which the insurer agrees to pay money or to other benefits in the event that the person insured becomes disabled.
Disbursement
Miscellaneous expenses other than lawyer fees and court costs (i.e. filing fees) which paid on behalf of another person and for which reimbursement will eventually be demanded of that person.
Discharge
A sentence of a person found guilty of a crime in which that person does not receive a criminal record of conviction, either absolutely or conditionally.
Disclaimer
A renunciation or refusal of rights or liability which might otherwise fall upon the person.
Disclaimer of Interest
A formal written statement by an interested person as to the severance of that interest for all purposes.
Disclosure
The delivery to the other side of a legal matter of relevant documents or other evidence.
Discontinuance
A formal notice filed with the Court and served on the defendant, ending active litigation.
Discovery - Civil Litigation
The making known to the other side of a law suit, of all relevant evidence.
Discovery - International Law
A form of acquisition of land in centuries past.
Discretionary Trust
A trust in which the settlor has given the trustee full discretion to decide which (and when) members of a defined group of beneficiaries is to receive either the income or the capital of the trust.
Discrimination
A distinction based on the personal characteristics of an individual resulting in some disadvantage to that individual.
Dismissal
An employer's decision to terminate a contract of employment.
Dismissal Without Prejudice
A dismissal of an action before it is judges on the merits and leaves the parties as though the action had never been filed, subject to limitations in local Court rules.
Disorderly House
A place where acts prohibited by statute are habitually indulged in or permitted.
Dispositive
A fact or point of law which brings about the settlement of a contested issue.
Disrate
A term of maritime law where an officer or other seaman is either demoted in rank or deprived of a promotion.
Dissent
To disagree.
Dissolution
The act of ending, terminating or winding-up a company or state of affairs.
Distraint
The right of a landlord to seize the property of a tenant which is in the premises being rented, as collateral against a tenant that has not paid the rent or has otherwise defaulted on the lease, such as wanton disrepair or destruction of the premises.
Distress
A common law remedy available to landlords to hold the tenant's belongings while the tenant is behind on rent but continues to occupy the premises.
District Attorney
A lawyer in the USA charged with prosecution of criminal charges on behalf of the government.
Diversity Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction of a US federal court to dispose of a matter meeting a monetary threshold even though it involves residents of different states.
Dividend
A proportionate distribution of profits made in the form of a money payment to shareholders, by a for-profit corporation. Dividends are declared by a company's board of directors.
Divine Right of Kings
A doctrine of absolute right of a monarch premised on the belief that an individual's tenure as monarch was an act of God, and thus the king can set the law, or to ignore or change the law as may have been set by a representational parliament.
Divorce
The final, legal ending of a marriage, by Court order.
Divorce a Mensa et Thoro
An obselete form of divorce order which did not end the marriage but allowed the parties to reside separate; in effect, a legal or judicially-sanctioned separation of two married persons.
Diyya
Muslim law: the payment by an aggressor to his victim of a sum of money to thus avoid a retaliation punishment ("kisas").
Djabr
Muslim law: a father's right to constrain his son or daughter into a marriage of the father’s choosing.
DNA
Abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid. A chromosome molecule which carries genetic coding unique to each person with the only exception of identical twins (that is why it is also called 'DNA fingerprinting').
Dock
An artificial basin or enclosure for the reception of vessels.
Docket
An official court record book which lists all the cases before the court and which may also note the status or action required for each case.
Doctor-Patient Privilege
A proposed prohibition In regards to the disclosure within legal proceedings of communications or records produced privately between a medical doctor and her/his patient, on the expectation of privilege.
Doctrine
A rule or principle or the law established through the repeated application of legal precedents.
Doctrine of Specialty
A typical requirement in extradition: that the receiving state not prosecute the individual being extradicted but for the offence for which extradition was sought.
Document
Any written thing capable of being made evidence.
Dog Fighting
Two dogs, roused and tormented in advance, put in a confined area to fight while observors bet on the outcome.
Dolus Directus
When an accused is taken to have objectively foreseen the consequences of his/her act.
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