There are a lot of specialized terms used in court. Here are some common terms when beginning a new case:
- Civil Action: A legal proceeding in which one person (the plaintiff) demands something (often money) from another person (the defendant) based on an injury or loss to the plaintiff.
- Complaint: The legal document that starts a civil action.
- Plaintiff: The person who files the complaint against another party (the defendant).
- Defendant: The person against whom the plaintiff files the complaint.
- Pro se: Used to describe someone filing a civil action without an attorney, pronounced “pro say.”
- In Forma Pauperis: Used to describe someone who is unable to pay the court’s filing fee due to poverty, pronounced “in form-a paw-per-iss.”
For definitions of more terms you may hear during your case and in court, visit the Maryland State Law Library’s Glossary of Legal Terms and Abbreviations.