CAPITAL CASE: This is a criminal case where the state charges that the defendant committed aggravated murder and seeks the death penalty. The case is tried in two phases: the guilt phase and the penalty phase. The guilt phase involves presenting evidence for the jury to decide whether the defendant is guilty of aggravated murder. If the jury finds the defendant guilty of aggravated murder, the jury comes back for the penalty phase to hear other evidence on four questions set out by state law. The jury’s answers to those questions determine the sentence.
CASE, CASE LAW: Previous cases decided by courts of appeal are published and used by judges to make decisions in current, similar cases.
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE: A written statement that says the date that the document was provided to the other parties.
CHANGE OF VENUE: The removal of a proceeding begun in one county or district to another county or district for trial or other proceeding.
CHALLENGES: State law authorizes the judge and the lawyers to excuse individual jurors from service in a particular case for various reasons. If a lawyer wishes to have a juror excused, he or she must use a "challenge" for that juror. Challenges, or reasons to dismiss a juror, are of two kinds:
1. For cause – State law lists several specific reasons to excuse jurors "for cause." For example, a juror who is related to or employed by one of the parties in the case may be excused for cause. The law does not limit the number of “for-cause” challenges.
2. Peremptory – Each side in a trial can use a limited number of challenges without giving a reason. These are called “peremptory” challenges. State law sets the limit, which varies somewhat by the type of case. A peremptory challenge does not imply that the juror is not competent in any way. Often a juror excused in one case is selected in another.
State and federal law prohibit parties and lawyers from using these challenges to exclude jurors based on race, ethnicity, gender, or other reasons that indicate bias against an entire segment of the community.
CHILD ABUSE: Hurting a child physically, sexually or emotionally.
CHILD PROTECTIVE AGENCY: An agency authorized by state law to protect the well- being of children.
CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES: Administrative rules that a judge or hearings officer must follow when setting the amount a parent must pay in child support.
CHILD SUPPORT ORDER: A written order of the court or the Child Support Program that states which parent must pay child support, which parent will receive child support, the amount of the child support payment, and how often the payments must be made.
CHILD SUPPORT WORKSHEET: A document, used to enter financial information and calculate the amount of child support according to the child support guidelines.
CHILD SUPPORT: A financial obligation that parents owe to their child(ren).
CIVIL ACTION OR CASE: This is a legal dispute that does not involve prosecuting a criminal charge and is between parties who are individuals, businesses, or government entities; instead one or more parties usually called plaintiffs seek a judgment against other parties usually called defendants. In most civil actions that juries hear, the plaintiffs seek money damages.
CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE: Evidence that proves a fact substantially more likely than not.
CLERK/BAILIFF: The courtroom clerk, sometimes called a bailiff, is a court employee who serves the judge and the jury and helps maintain order in the courtroom. The clerk keeps a record of the papers, exhibits, orders and rulings the judge makes during trial, and the verdict. The clerk usually administers the oath or affirmation to jurors and witnesses. Other court staff may be in the courtroom, such as a court reporter.
CLOSING STATEMENT: The statements made by each party (or their lawyers) at the end of a hearing or trial. Typically, this statement highlights the version of the facts that best supports each side of the case, how these facts were proven during the testimony, how the law applies to the case, and why the judge should rule for one side and not the other. The statement itself is not evidence, and the closing statement may refer only to what has been received in evidence.
COHABITATION: Two people, not married to each other, who live together in an intimate relationship or married people who live in the same residence.
COMMON LAW MARRIAGE: A common law marriage occurs when a man and woman who are eligible to marry agree to live together as husband and wife without a formal ceremony or a marriage license. In a common law marriage, both spouses must intend to be husband and wife. Oregon does not have common law marriage.
COMPETENT WITNESS: A witness who has firsthand knowledge of relevant evidence and who is able to tell the judge or jury about it.
COMPETENT: A competent person is able to understand the oath and proceedings and is legally qualified to be a witness or party.
COMPLAINANT: The one who files the lawsuit, same as plaintiff or petitioner.
COMPLAINT: The plaintiff files a “pleading” called a “complaint” to bring a dispute to the court to decide. In a civil action, the complaint lists the plaintiff’s claims against one or more defendants; in a criminal action in state court, the state uses a complaint or other accusatory instrument to accuse the defendant of committing a criminal offense.
COMPLAINT: A legal paper that starts a case; also called a petition or pleading.
CONFIDENTIAL: When a conversation, information or other communication is confidential, none of the participants can testify in court about what was said. Confidentiality is different with different professionals. A person should ask the professional person (attorney, mediator, therapist, counselor) what the rules are for that profession.
CONTEMPT OF COURT: An act or omission tending to obstruct or interfere with the orderly administration of justice or to impair the dignity of the Court or respect for its authority.
CONTEMPT: The willful failure to follow a court order. One party to a lawsuit can ask the court to find the other party in contempt of court.
CONTESTED CASE: A legal proceeding in which one party opposes, resists or disputes what another party has requested.
CO-PARENTS: Parents who share responsibility for raising a child even though the parents no longer live together.
CORRECTED JUDGMENT: A judgment that has correct information and that replaces a judgment that has errors. Formerly called an amended judgment.
COUNSEL: Judges and lawyers often refer to the lawyers who represent parties in a trial as “counsel.” It is both singular and plural.
COURT ORDER: Any order made by a judge; the order may be written by the judge or submitted by a party or attorney and signed by the judge. The parties may agree to a parenting plan and,when the judge signs it, it becomes a court order or judgment.
CRIMINAL ACTION/CASE: In these actions, the government accuses individuals or organizations of conduct that the legislative branch of government has defined as a crime. Jurors determine whether the defendant is “guilty” or “not guilty.”
CROSS EXAMINATION: Each party “examines” witnesses by asking them questions relevant to the issues in the case. First, the party or party’s lawyer who called the witness to testify ask questions, called “examination” or “direct examination.” The opposing party or lawyer then may ask that witness questions, called “cross examination.”
CUSTODY: The legal arrangement for raising a child and how decisions about the child will be made. Custody has two parts: legal and physical. Legal custody is decision-making responsibility for the child; physical custody refers to the home in which the child lives. Parents may agree to any custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child.