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  • Magna Carta

    Charter to which subscribed King John of England on June 12, 1215 in which a basic set of limits were set on the King's powers. King John had ruled tyrannically. His barons rebelled and committed themselves to war with King John unless he agreed to the Charter. Held to be the precursor of habeas corpus as Article 39 of the Magna Carta held that no man shall be "imprisoned, exiled or destroyed ... except by lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land". qq
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  • Maintenance

    Refers to the obligation of one person to contribute, in part or in whole, to the cost of living of another person. Maintenance is usually expressed in a currency amount per month as in "$450 a month maintenance." Some countries prefer the words "support" (spousal or child) or "alimony" but they all mean the same thing.
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  • Malfeasance

    Doing something which is illegal. Compare with misfeasance and nonfeasance.
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  • Malpractice Defense

    the area of law that focuses on representing those professionals who have been accused of negligence, misconduct, lack of ordinary skill, or a breach of duty in the performance of a professional service (medicine, law, etc.) resulting in injury or loss.
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  • Mandamus

    A writ which commands an individual, organization (eg. government), administrative tribunal or court to perform a certain action, usually to correct a prior illegal action or a failure to act in the first place.
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  • Manslaughter

    Accidental homicide or homicide which occurs without an intent to kill, and which does not occur during the commission of another crime or under extreme provocation. qq
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  • MAO

    Medical Assistance Only
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  • Maritime law

    A very specific body of law peculiar to transportation by water, seamen and harbors.
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  • Marriage

    The state-recognized, voluntary and exclusive contract for the lifelong union of two persons. Most countries do not recognize marriage between same-sex couples or polygamous marriages.
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  • Massachusetts trust

    A unique way to organize a business where the property is bought by, or transferred to, a trustee (such as a trust company) and the trustee issues trust "units", which the investors, or their designates, hold as beneficiaries. This is a common way to structure a large real estate purchase.
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  • Matrimony

    The legal state of being married. Ecclesiastics talk of the "holy" state of matrimony.
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  • Mediation

    a process of non-binding intervention between parties to promote resolution of a grievance, reconciliation, settlement, or compromise outside of the court system (see also mediation and alternative dispute resolution).
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  • Medicaid Program

    federally funded medical support for low income families
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  • Medical Support

    legal provision for payment of medical and dental bills
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  • Mens rea

    Latin for "guilty mind." Many serious crimes require the proof of "mens rea" before a person can be convicted. In other words, the prosecution must prove not only that the accused committed the offence but that he (or she) did it knowing that it was prohibited; that their act (or omission) was done with an intent to commit a crime.
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  • Mergers & Acquisitions

    the area of law that involves the acquisition of or merging of a corporation of one or more others and/or any of various methods of combining two or more organizations.
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  • Military Law

    law that is enforced by the military rather than civil authority.
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  • Minor

    A person who is legally underage. It varies between 21 and 18 years of age. Each state sets an age threshold at which time a person is invested with all legal rights as an adult. For many new adults, this may mean access to places serving alcohol and the right to purchase and consume alcohol, smoke cigarettes and drive a car. But there are many other legal rights which a minor does not have such as, in some states, the right to own land, to sign a contract or to get married.
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  • Minutes

    The official record of a meeting. Some minutes include a summary (not verbatim) of the discussion along with any resolutions. Other minutes just contain a record of the decisions. Minutes start off with the name of the organization, the place and date of the meeting and the name of those person's present. Minutes are prepared by the corporate secretary and signed by either the president or secretary.
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  • Miranda warning

    Also known as the "Miranda Rule, this is the name given to the requirement that police officers, in the U.S.A., must warn suspects upon arrest that they have the right to remain silent, that any statement that they make could be used against them in a court of law, that they have the right to contact a lawyer and that if they cannot afford a lawyer, that one will be provided before any questioning is so desired. Failure to issue the Miranda warning results in the evidence so obtained to not be admissible in the court. The warning became a national police requirement when ordered by the US Supreme Court in the 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona and that is how it got the name.
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  • Mis-joinder

    When a person has been named as a party to a law suit when that person should not have been added. When this is asserted, a court will usually accommodate a request to amend the court documents to strike, or substitute for, the name of the mis-joined party. Compare with non-joinder.
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  • Misdemeanor

    (USA) A crime of lesser seriousness than a felony where the punishment might be a fine or prison for less than one year.
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  • Misfeasance

    Improperly doing something which a person has the legal right to do. Compare with malfeasance and nonfeasance.
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  • Misrepresentation

    A false and material statement which induces a party to enter into a contract. This is a ground for rescission of the contract.
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  • Mistrial

    A partial or complete trial which is found to be null and void and of no effect because of some irregularity. The sudden end of trial before it would ordinarily end because of some reason which invalidates it. Once a mistrial is declared, the situation is as if the trial had never occurred. Some common reasons for a mistrial include a deadlocked jury, the death of a juror or a serious procedural and prejudicial mistake made at the trial which cannot be corrected.
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  • Mitigating circumstances

    These are facts that, while not negating an offence or wrongful action, tend to show that the defendant may have had some grounds for acting the way he/she did. For example, assault, though provoked, is still assault but provocation may constitute mitigating circumstances and allow for a lesser sentence.
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  • Mitigation of damages

    A person who sues another for damages has a responsibility to minimize those damages, as far as reasonable. For example, in a wrongful dismissal suit, the person that was fired should make some effort to find another job so as to minimize the economic damage on themselves.
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  • Modus operandi

    Latin: method of operation. Used by law enforcement officials to refer to a criminal's preferred method of committing crime. For example, car thief "George" may have a break and enter technique that leaves a long scratch mark on the door. Upon discovery of a stolen vehicle with such a mark, the law enforcement officials might include "George" in the list of suspects because the evidence at the crime scene is consistent with his "modus operandi."
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  • Moiety

    Half of something. For example, it can be said that joint tenants hold a moiety in property. In old criminal law, there were "moiety acts" which allowed half of the fine money to be handed over to the informer.
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  • Monopoly

    A commercial advantage enjoyed by only one or a select few companies in which only those companies can trade in a certain area. Some monolopoies are legal, such as those temporarily created by patents. Others are secretly built by conspiracy between two or more companies and are prohibited by law.
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  • Moot

    Also called a "moot point": a side issue, problem or question which does not have to be decided to resolve the main issues in a dispute.
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  • Moot court

    Fictional or hypothetical trial, usually hosted by law schools, as training for future barristers or litigators.
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  • Moratorium

    The temporary suspension of legal action against a person.
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  • Mortgage

    An interest given on a piece of land, in writing, to guarantee the payment of a debt or the execution of some action. It automatically becomes void when the debt is paid or the action is executed. In some jurisdictions, it entails a conveyance of the land until the debt is paid in full. The person lending the money and receiving the mortgage is called the mortgagee; the person who concedes a mortgage as security upon their property is called a mortgagor.
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  • MOU

    Abbreviation for "Memorandum of Understanding." A document which, if meeting the other criteria, can be, in law, a contract. Generally, in the world of commerce or international negotiations, a MOU is considered to be a preliminary document; not a comprehensive agreement between two parties but rather an interim or partial agreement on some elements, in some cases a mere agreement in principle, on which there has been accord. Most MOU's imply that something more is eventually expected.
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  • MSFIDM

    Multistate Financial Institution Data Match
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  • MSO

    Monthly Support Obligation
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  • Murder

    Intentional homicide (the taking of another person's life), without legal justification or provocation.
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