Tx Govt Ch 11 Vocab

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Civil case

Nonpenal case dealing with pri-vate rights and responsibilities.


Criminal case

Case prosecuted by the state, seeking punishment for a violation of the penal code.


Burden of proof

The duty of a party in a court case to prove its position.


Preponderance of the evidence

The amount of evidence necessary for a party to win in a civil case; proof that outweighs the evidence offered in opposition to it.


Beyond a reasonable doubt

The standard used to deter-mine the guilt or innocence of a person criminally charged. To prove a defendant guilty, the state must provide suf-fi cient evidence of guilt such that jurors have no doubt that might cause a reasonable person to question whether the accused was guilty.


Original jurisdiction

The authority of a court to consider a case in the fi rst instance; the power to try a case, as contrasted with appellate jurisdiction.


Double jeopardy

A second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal in the fi rst trial.



A written argument prepared by the counsel arguing a case in court that summarizes the facts of the case, the pertinent laws, and the application of those laws to the facts sup-porting the counsel’s position.


Appellate jurisdiction

The power vested in an appel-late court to review and revise the judicial action of an inferior court.


De novo

Latin for “ anew”; a de novo trial is a new trial conducted in a higher court ( as opposed to an appeal). In de novo cases, higher courts completely retry cases. On appeal, higher courts simply review the law as decided by the lower courts.


Plea bargaining

Negotiations between the prosecution and the defense to obtain a lighter sentence or other benefi ts in exchange for a guilty plea by the accused.


No bill

A grand jury’s refusal to return an indictment fi led by the prosecutor.


Grand jury

In Texas, 12 persons who sit in pretrial proceedings to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to try an individual and therefore return an indictment.


True bill

An indictment returned by a grand jury.



A formal written accusation issued by a grand jury against a party charged with a crime when it has determined that there is sufficient evidence to bring the accused to trial.



A written accusation filed by the prosecutor against a party charged with a minor crime; it is an alternative to an indictment and does not involve a grand jury.


Petit jury

Trial jury for a civil or criminal case.


Challenge for cause

A request to a judge that a certain prospective juror not be allowed to serve on the jury for a specific reason, such as bias or knowledge of the case.


Peremptory challenge

A challenge made to a prospective juror without being required to give a reason for removal; the number of such challenges allotted to the prosecution and defense is limited.


Hung jury

A jury that is unable to agree on a verdict after a suitable period of deliberation; the result is a mistrial.


Merit plan or Missouri plan

A method of selecting judges on the basis of the merit or quality of the candidates and not on political considerations. Under this system, the governor fills court vacancies from a list of nominees submitted by a judicial commission, and these appointees later face retention elections.