Common Legal Terminology

Sanction -

A penalty or other type of enforcement used to bring about compliance with the law or with rules and regulations.

Schedules -

Lists submitted by the debtor along with the petition (or shortly thereafter) showing the debtor’s assets, liabilities, and other financial information. (There are official forms a debtor must use.)

Secured creditor -

A secured creditor is an individual or business that holds a claim against the debtor that is secured by a lien on property of the estate. The property subject to the lien is the secured creditor’s collateral.

Secured debt -

Debt backed by a mortgage, pledge of collateral, or other lien; debt for which the creditor has the right to pursue specific pledged property upon default. Examples include home mortgages, auto loans and tax liens.

Senior judge -

A federal judge who, after attaining the requisite age and length of judicial experience, takes senior status, thus creating a vacancy among a court’s active judges. A senior judge retains the judicial office and may cut back his or her workload by as much as 75 percent, but many opt to keep a larger caseload.

Sentence -

The punishment ordered by a court for a defendant convicted of a crime.

Sentencing guidelines -

A set of rules and principles established by the United States Sentencing Commission that trial judges use to determine the sentence for a convicted defendant.

Sequester -

To separate. Sometimes juries are sequestered from outside influences during their deliberations.

Service of process -

The delivery of writs or summonses to the appropriate party.

Settlement -

Parties to a lawsuit resolve their dispute without having a trial. Settlements often involve the payment of compensation by one party in at least partial satisfaction of the other party’s claims, but usually do not include the admission of fault.

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