Common Legal Terminology

Capital Offense -

A crime punishable by death.

Case File -

A complete collection of every document filed in court in a case.

Case Law -

The law as established in previous court decisions. A synonym for legal precedent. Akin to common law, which springs from tradition and judicial decisions.

Caseload -

The number of cases handled by a judge or a court.

Cause of Action - A legal claim.

Chambers -

The offices of a judge and his or her staff.

Chapter 11 -

A reorganization bankruptcy, usually involving a corporation or partnership. A Chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. Individuals or people in business can also seek relief in Chapter 11.

Chapter 12 -

The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for adjustment of debts of a “family farmer” or “family fisherman,” as the terms are defined in the Bankruptcy Code.

Chapter 13 -

The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for the adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income, often referred to as a “wage-earner” plan. Chapter 13 allows a debtor to keep property and use his or her disposable income to pay debts over time, usually three to five years.

Chapter 13 Trustee -

A person appointed to administer a Chapter 13 case. A Chapter 13 trustee’s responsibilities are similar to those of a Chapter 7 trustee; however, a Chapter 13 trustee has the additional responsibilities of overseeing the debtor’s plan, receiving payments from debtors, and disbursing plan payments to creditors.

All terms and definitions on this page are from uscourts.gov/glossary (April 13, 2020)