Glossary of Litigation Terms

Damages – Punitive

Punitive Damages or exemplary damages are awarded over and above special and general damages to punish a losing party’s malicious or intentional misconduct.

Damages – Special

Special Damages are out-of-pocket costs.


A Demurrer is an allegation by a defendant that the complaint does not set forth a cause of action upon which relief can be granted by the court. It admits for the purpose of testing the complaint that all facts asserted are true, but not the conclusions of law.


A Deposition is the oral testimony of a witness under oath, but not in court. It is part of the discovery process. A transcript is made of the deposition for use before and during the trial.

Direct Examination

Direct Examination is the initial questioning of a party or witness at trial by the side that called him or her to testify. The purpose is to explain your version of the facts to the judge or jury.


Discovery refers to the pre-trial practice of obtaining facts about the case from the other party and other witnesses in order to prepare for trial. Discovery consists of taking depositions, requests for production of documents, interrogatories, requests for admission, permission to inspect property, and physical and mental examinations. It is an investigatory process governed by court rules.


A Dismissal is an order or judgment of the court disposing of a lawsuit without a trial. A dismissal may be voluntary or involuntary.


Evidence consists of testimony, written materials and objects that are presented in court to prove the existence or nonexistence of a fact. Evidence may be direct evidence such as the testimony of an eyewitness. It may also be indirect evidence or circumstantial evidence which is based on logical inference.



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