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  • Sanction

    This is a very unusual word with two contradictory meanings. To "sanction" can mean to ratify or to approve but it can also mean to punish. The "sanction" of a crime refers to the actual punishment, usually expressed as a fine or jail term.
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  • Sanctuary

    A special criminal law option available in Medieval times to persons who had just committed a crime, allowing them to seek refuge in a church or monastery. There, they could be exempted from the normal prosecution which, in those days, was quite severe. But the ordeal, even within sanctuary, was no piece of cake. The fugitive had to remain within the walls of the sanctuary, abandon his or her oath to the king, followed which they had a short period of time to leave the country. They were considered to be "dead", so much so that their land was forfeited to the King and their wife considered to be a widow. If they refused to renounce their oath, they could be starved out of the sanctuary. Henry VIII of England even took to branding them with a hot iron before they left the country just in case they tried to return; they could then be quickly spotted and arrested. Abolished from the common law in 1624 and, in France, at the time of the Revolution, the principle of sanctuary continues today, in somewhat altered form, as diplomatic asylum under international law.
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  • SCR

    State Case Registry of Child Support Orders
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  • SDNH

    State Directory of New Hires
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  • SDU

    State Disbursement Unit
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  • Search warrant

    A court order (i.e. signed by a judge) that gives a police the permission to enter private property and to search for evidence of the commission of a crime, for the proceeds of crime or property that the police suspect may be used to commit a crime. These court orders are obtained on the basis of a sworn statement by the requesting law enforcement officer and will precisely describe the place to be searched and, in some cases, the exact property being sought.
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  • Securities Law

    the area of law dealing with securities, which is the generic term for shares of stock, bonds and debentures issued by corporations and governments to evidence ownership and terms of payment of dividends or final pay-off. They are called securities because the assets and/or the profits of the corporation or the credit of the government stand as security for payment. However, unlike secured transactions in which specific property is pledged, securities are only as good as the future profitability of the corporation or the management of the governmental agency.
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  • Seisin

    The legal possession of property. In law, the term refers more specifically to the possession of land by a freeholder. For example, a owner of a building has seisin, but a tenant does not, because the tenant, although enjoying possession, does not have the legal title in the building.
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  • Sentence

    The punishment given to a person who has been convicted (i.e. found to be guilty) of a crime. It may be time in jail, community service or a period of probation.
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  • Sequestration

    The taking of someone's property, voluntarily (by deposit) or involuntarily (by seizure), by court officers or into the possession of a third party, awaiting the outcome of a trial in which ownership of that property is at issue.
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  • Servient tenement

    The land which suffers or has the burden of an easement. The beneficiary of the easement is called a dominant tenement.
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  • Servitude

    From Roman law, referring to rights of use over the property of another; a burden on a piece of land causing the owner to suffer access by another. An easement is type of servitude as is a profit รก prendre.
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  • SESA

    State Employment Security Agency
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  • Settlor

    The person who actually creates a trust by donating property to be managed and administered by a trustee but from which all profits would go to a beneficiary. The law books of some countries refer to this person as a "donor."
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  • Sexual Harassment

    the area of law dealing specifically with discrimination consisting of unwelcome verbal or physical conduct directed at an employee because of his or her sex.
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  • Share

    A portion of a company bought by a transfer of cash in exchange for a certificate, the certificate constituting proof of share ownership. Persons owning shares in a company are called "shareholders". There are two basic kinds of shares: common and preferred. A shareholder is not liable for the debts or other obligations of the company except to the extent of any commitment made to buy shares. The two other benefits of shares include a right to participate in profits (through dividends) and the right to share the residue of assets of the company, once liabilities have been paid off, if it is ever dissolved.
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  • Shareholder agreement

    A contract between the shareholders of the company and the company itself, in which certain things, usually the purview of the board of directors, are detailed. For example, a shareholder might be allowed to manage the company, instead of a board of directors. The shareholder agreement will also, typically, control inflows to the company (purchase of shares), how profits are to be distributed, dispute resolution and what to do if a shareholder dies.
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  • Silent partner

    A person who invests in a company or partnership but does not take part in administering or directing the organization; he or she just shares in the profits or losses.
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  • Sine die

    Adjourned without giving any future date of meeting or hearing. A court that adjourns sine die essentially dismisses the case by saying that it never wants to hear the case again! A meeting which adjourns sine die has simply not set a date for it's next meeting.
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  • Slander

    Verbal or spoken defamation.
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  • Slander of title

    Intentionally casting aspersion on someone's property including real property, a business or goods (the latter might also be called "slander of goods"). A form of jactitation. For example, stating that a house is haunted or alleging that a certain product infringes a patent or copyright.
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  • Slavery

    When a person (called "master") has absolute power over another (called "slave") including life and liberty. The slave has no freedom of action except within limits set by the master. The slave is considered to be the property of the master and can be sold, given away or killed. All the fruits of the slave's labor belongs to the master (see, for example, the extract from "The 1740 South Carolina Slave Code" in the History of the Law). Slavery was once very prevalent in the world but is now illegal in most countries.
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  • Small Business

    the area of law that involves the creation and needs of "small business". A small business can be any activity or enterprise entered into for profit, usually a company, a corporation, partnership, or any such formal organization.
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  • Small claims

    A regular court but which has simplified rules of procedure and process to deal with claims of a lesser value. Many jurisdictions have established small claims courts which, because of their structures and reliance on deformalized proceedings, allow for expedited hearings and where representation by lawyer is not required or encouraged. Some typical distinctive characteristics of small claims courts include the ability to serve by regular mail and to seize both a court and an adversary at far less cost than in ordinary courts.
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  • Socage

    A term of the feudal system which referred to the tenure which was exchanged for certain goods or services which were not military in nature. Socage is often described as "free and common socage" although the "free and common" qualification is now of a purely historical significance.
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  • Social Security/Disability Law

    the area of law assisting those who, due to a disability, require a program of public provision for the economic security and social welfare of the individual and his or her family.
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  • Solicitor

    A lawyer that restricts his or her practice to the giving of legal advice and does not normally litigate. that court room. In England and some other Commonwealth jurisdictions, a legal distinction is made between solicitors and barristers, the former with exclusive privileges of giving oral or written legal advice, and the latter with exclusive privileges of preparing and conducting litigation in the courts. In other words, solicitors don't appear in court on a client's behalf and barristers don't give legal advice to clients. In England, barristers and solicitors work as a team: the solicitor would typically make the first contact with a client and if the issue cannot be resolved and proceeds to trial, the solicitor would transfer the case to a barrister for the duration of the litigation. Lawyers in some states, such as Canada, sometimes use the title "barrister and solicitor" even though, contrary to England, there is no legal distinction between the advising and litigating roles. Canadian lawyers can litigate or give legal advice (as is the case in the USA, where lawyers are referred to as "attorneys").
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  • Sovereign

    Has two meanings. The first one is a technical word for the monarch (king or queen) of a particular country as in "the Sovereign of England is Queen Elizabeth." The other meaning of the word is to describe the supreme legislative powers of a state: that they are totally independent and free from any outside political control or authority over their decisions. The people of Quebec, for example, has, at times, supported governments which have proposed that Quebec become a "sovereign" state; that all legislative authority of the government of Canada over their territory cease and that the government of Quebec be enabled to regulate in any matter at all; and that the government of Quebec represent itself internationally.
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  • Split custody

    A child custody decision which means that legal custody goes back and forth between parents like a ping-pong ball, as they, in turn, take care of the child. They are very rare (for example, only 5% of all custody orders in the USA) because they works against consistent upbringing decisions for the child.
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  • SPLS

    State Parent Locator Service
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  • SSA

    Social Security Administration
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  • SSN

    Social Security Number
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  • Standing committee

    A term of parliamentary law which refers to those committees which have a continued existence; that are not related to the accomplishment of a specific, once-only task as are ad hoc or special committees. Standing committees generally exist as long as the organization to which it reports. Budget and finance or nomination committees are typical standing committees of a larger organization.
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  • Stare decisis

    A basic principle of the law whereby once a decision (a precedent) on a certain set of facts has been made, the courts will apply that decision in cases which subsequently come before it embodying the same set of facts. A precedent which is binding; must be followed.
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  • State

    A term of international law: those groups of people which have acquired international recognition as an independent country and which have four characteristics; permanent and large population with, generally, a common language; a defined and distinct territory; a sovereign government with effective control; and a capacity to enter into relations with other states (i.e. recognized by other states). The USA, Canada and China are examples of states. States are the primary subjects of international law. The United Nations is comprised of all the states of the world. Some large states have subdivided into smaller units each having limited legislative powers normally restricted to subjects which are more properly regulated at a local, rather than a national level. Thus, the states of the USA are not really "states" under international law. It is common for the general public and English dictionaries to use the word "nations" to refer to what international law calls "states."
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  • State Parent Locator Service (SPLS)

    a service operated by the State Child Support Enforcement Agencies to locate noncustodial parents to establish paternity, and establish and enforce child support obligations
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  • Statute Of Limitations

    the period during which someone can be held liable for an action or a debt-statutes of limitations for collecting child support vary from State to State
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  • Statutes

    The written laws approved by legislatures, parliaments or houses of assembly (i.e., politicians). Also known as "legislation". The written laws of the Canadian Province of Newfoundland, for example, are in a multi-volume set of books called the Statutes of Newfoundland.
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  • Statutory rape

    The common law definition of rape has not proven adequate to reflect modern values. It is limited to sex without consent and with a woman, and only where the victim is not the wife of the rapist. Many states have enacted laws which include under the charge of rape, sex with a minor even if done with the minor's consent, sex without consent regardless of whether the victim is male or female, and sex without consent regardless of the matrimonial bond between victim and rapist.
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  • Statutory trust

    A trust created by the effect of a statute. They are usually temporary in nature and serve the purpose of bridging ownership of property to benefit a certain class of individuals which the statute is designed to protect. Some examples are the temporary trusts that the law of some states impose on the executor of an estate, the holding and administration of tax or other pay deductions (including vacation pay) by employers, the trust accounts of lawyers and the statutory trust on money paid for a construction project on behalf of any person who might have a construction lien on the property.
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  • Stay

    an order by a court which suspends all or some of the proceedings in a case
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  • Stirpes

    Latin: the offspring of a person; his or her descendants. For example, inheriting per stirpes means having a right to a deceased's estate because you happen to be a descendant of the deceased.
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  • Strict liability

    Tort liability which is set upon the defendant without need to prove intent, negligence or fault; as long as you can prove that it was the defendant's object that caused the damage.
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  • Sub judice

    A matter that is still under consideration by a court. You will hear of politicians declining to speak on a certain subject because the subject matter is "sub judice".
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  • Subinfeudation

    The process whereby, under the feudal system of tenure, a person receiving a grant of land from a lord, could himself become a lord by subdividing and subletting that land to others.
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  • Subordination

    To be subject to the orders or direction of another; of lower rank.
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  • Subpoena

    an order of the court for a witness to appear at a particular time and place to testify and/or produce documents in the control of the witness (if a "subpena duces tecum"). A subpena is used to obtain testimony from a witness at both depositions (testimony under oath taken outside of court) and at trial.
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  • Subrogation

    When you pay off someone's debt and then try to get the money from the debtor yourself. (Compare with "novation".)
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  • Subservient tenement

    The real property that supports or endures an easement. The real property benefitting from an easement is called the dominant tenement.
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  • Substituted service

    If a party appears to be avoiding service of court documents, a request may be made with the court to, instead of personal service (i.e. giving the document directly to the person), that the document be published in a local newspaper, served on a person believed to frequent the person or mailed to his (or her) last known address.
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  • Successor

    A person who takes over the rights of another.
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  • Sui juris

    A person who possesses full civil rights and is not under any legal incapacity such as being bankrupt, of minor age or mental incapacity. Most adults are sui juris.
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  • Summary conviction offence

    In Canada, a less serious offence than indictable offences for which both the procedure and punishment tends to be less onerous.
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  • Summons

    In the USA, this is one of the initial documents issued in a civil suit; giving the defendant notice of the claim and an opportunity to defend it. The summons also gives the court which issues it the authority to dispose of the matter. In Canadian criminal law, this is the document used by the police to compel an accused to attend court to answer the charges. It does not involve the arrest of the accused and is used where the police, either by the relatively less serious nature of the crime or because of the standing of the accused in the community, do not believe that arrest is necessary to ensure the attendance of the accused at court.
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  • Surety

    The person who has pledged him or herself to pay back money or perform a certain action if the principal to a contract fails, as collateral, and as part of the original contract. Technically, where a person provides collateral after or before the original contract is signed, and as a separate contract, the person is called a "guarantor" and not a "surety."
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  • Synallagmatic contract

    A civil law term for a reciprocal or bilateral contract: one in which both parties provide consideration. A contract of sale is a classic example, where one party provides money and the other, goods or services. A gift is not a synallagmatic contract.
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