Dictionary of Law

fictitious defendants :: legal definition

Fictitious defendants - n. when a party suing (plaintiff) is not sure if he/she knows if there are unknown persons involved in the incident or the business being sued, there are named fictitious persons, usually designated Doe I, Doe II, and so forth, or "Green and Red Company," with an allegation in the complaint that if and when the true names are discovered they will be inserted in the complaint by amendment. Naming fictitious defendants stops the statute of limitations (the time in which a party has to file a lawsuit) from running out even though the true name is not yet known. Sometimes during the investigation or discovery (taking depositions or asking written questions under oath) new information about a potential defendant is found and the real name substituted. Then that person is served with a summons and complaint. If no substitution of a real name for a Doe has been made by the time of trial, usually the fictitious defendants are then dismissed from the case since they never existed in the first place, and the case continues against the named defendants. Fictitious defendants are not permitted in federal cases.

Related Law Terms

abstract of judgment :: n. a written summary of a judgment which states ho ... aying the debt. See also: levy lien
abuse of discretion :: n. a polite way of saying a trial judge has made s ... partner's realistic ability to pay.
adjuster :: n. an employee (usually a non-lawyer) of an insura ... e company in approving settlements.
administrator :: n. the person appointed by the court to handle the ... e also: administer executor probate
admission against interest :: n. an admission of the truth of a fact by any pers ... earsay. See also: admission hearsay
admission to bail :: n. an order of a court in a criminal case allowing ... lient. See also: bail bail bondsman
adverse party :: n. the opposite side in a lawsuit. Sometimes when ... the court rules the will was legal.
after-acquired property :: n. 1) personal or real property acquired by a debt ... lso: bankruptcy secured transaction
alternative pleading :: n. a legal fiction in which a party to a lawsuit o ... t the defendant committed the act).
amend :: v. to alter or change by adding, subtracting, or s ... mended pleading statute stipulation
amended complaint :: n. what results when the party suing (plaintiff or ... cause of action complaint demurrer
answer :: n. in law, a written pleading filed by a defendant ... emurrer general denial verification
appeal :: 1) v. to ask a higher court to reverse the decisio ... ng, as in "he has filed an appeal."
articles of incorporation :: n. the basic charter of a corporation which spells ... year's taxes. See also: corporation
assess :: v. to set a value on property, usually for the pur ... e place upon sale of real property.
attachment :: n. the seizing of money or property prior to getti ... bond. See also: writ of attachment
bankruptcy :: n. a federal system of statutes and courts which p ... y proceedings trustee in bankruptcy
Bill of Rights :: n. the first ten amendments to the federal Constit ... ved to the states or to the people.
caption :: n. the first section of any written legal pleading ... to the exact format of the caption.
character witness :: n. a person who testifies in a trial on behalf of ... ases and civil cases such as fraud.
claim against a governmental agency :: n. any time one believes he/she has a right to pay ... orter than other types of lawsuits.
clean hands doctrine :: n. a rule of law that a person coming to court wit ... ices. See also: affirmative defense
color of title :: n. the appearance of having title to personal or r ... rty based on this "color of title."
comparative negligence :: n. a rule of law applied in accident cases to dete ... utory negligence damages negligence
complaint :: n. the first document filed with the court (actual ... g prayer service of process summons
confession and avoidance :: n. when a defendant admits the allegations in a co ... tries to avoid their legal impact.
consent decree :: n. an order of a judge based upon an agreement, al ... he same. See also: consent judgment
contract :: 1) n. an agreement with specific terms between two ... n oral contract unilateral contract
contributory negligence :: n. a doctrine of common law that if a person was i ... : comparative negligence negligence
corporation :: n. an organization formed with state governmental ... ation public corporation securities
counterclaim :: n. a retaliatory claim by a defendant against a pl ... d. See also: answer cross-complaint
court :: n. 1) the judge, as in "The court rules in favor o ... cost and wait of full court trials.
court costs :: n. fees for expenses that the courts pass on to at ... ee also: cost bill prevailing party
criminal calendar :: n. the list of criminal cases to be called in cour ... e plea preliminary hearing sentence
cross-complaint :: n. after a complaint has been filed against a defe ... g prayer service of process summons
d.b.a. :: n. short for "doing business as," when a person or ... that is registered with the state.
damages :: n. the amount of money which a plaintiff (the pers ... liquidated damages special damages
deed :: 1) n. the written document which transfers title ( ... veyance deed of trust warranty deed
default :: 1) n. failure to respond to a summons and complain ... default judgment notice of default
default judgment :: n. if a defendant in a lawsuit fails to respond to ... See also: complaint default summons
defendant :: n. 1) the party sued in a civil lawsuit or the par ... nt. See also: codefendant plaintiff
devisee :: n. a person who receives a gift of real property b ... will. See also: beneficiary legatee
domicile :: n. the place where a person has his/her permanent ... where its headquarters is located.
escrow :: 1) n. a form of account held by an "escrow agent" ... w the deal." See also: escrow agent
estate :: n. 1) all that one owns in real estate and other a ... ife estate probate real estate will
estoppel :: n. a bar or impediment (obstruction) which preclud ... pel equitable estoppel estop laches
excusable neglect :: n. a legitimate excuse for the failure of a party ... See also: default default judgment
executive clemency :: n. the power of a President in federal criminal ca ... ernor. See also: commutation pardon
executor :: n. the person appointed to administer the estate o ... sed decedent executrix probate will
extradition :: n. the surrender by one state or country of a pers ... ty. See also: fugitive from justice
file :: 1) v. to deposit with the clerk of the court a wri ... rrespondence and notes on the case.
final settlement :: n. an agreement reached by the parties to a lawsui ... rneys present. See also: settlement
foreclosure :: n. the system by which a party who has loaned mone ... ced sale mortgage notice of default
fraud :: n. the intentional use of deceit, a trick or some ... audulent conveyance intrinsic fraud
gag order :: n. a judge's order prohibiting the attorneys and t ... st day in office, January 22, 1993.
general denial :: n. a statement in an answer to a lawsuit or claim ... anguage. See also: answer complaint
grace period :: n. a time stated in a contract in which a late pay ... the contract, i.e. your insurance.
gravamen :: n. Latin for "to weigh down," the basic gist of ev ... o: cause of action charge complaint
guarantee :: 1) v. to pledge or agree to be responsible for ano ... as some defect. See also: guarantor
guardian :: n. a person who has been appointed by a judge to t ... torship. See also: conservator ward
hearsay rule :: n. the basic rule that testimony or documents whic ... interest dying declaration hearsay
in personam :: adj. (in purr-soh-nam) from Latin for "directed to ... here. See also: in rem jurisdiction
in propria persona :: adj. from Latin "for one's self," acting on one's ... client and an ass for an attorney."
indenture :: n. a type of real property deed in which two parti ... bind a person to work for another.
information :: n. an accusation or criminal charge brought by the ... Jury indictment preliminary hearing
information and belief :: n. a phrase often used in legal pleadings (complai ... nswer complaint declaration perjury
insanity :: n. mental illness of such a severe nature that a p ... M'Naughten rule temporary insanity
interest :: n. 1) any and all, partial or total right to prope ... nal property real property standing
interrogatories :: n. a set of written questions to a party to a laws ... ing. See also: deposition discovery
Jane Doe :: n. 1) a fictitious name used for a possible female ... lso: fictitious defendants John Doe
John Doe :: n. 1) a fictitious name used for a possible male d ... lso: fictitious defendants Jane Doe
joinder :: n. the joining together of several lawsuits or sev ... er misjoinder multiplicity of suits
joint and several :: adj. referring to a debt or a judgment for neglige ... ution contributory negligence joint
judicial foreclosure :: n. a judgment by a court in favor of foreclosure o ... deed of trust foreclosure mortgage
jump bail :: v. to fail to appear for a court appearance after ... also: bail bail bond bail bondsman
jurisdiction :: n. the authority given by law to a court to try ca ... Superior Court Supreme Court venue
jury :: n. one of the remarkable innovations of the Englis ... hallenge sequester venire voir dire
jury fees :: n. the rather minimal amount paid each day to juro ... ees as a court cost. See also: jury
last clear chance :: n. a rule of law in determining responsibility for ... contributory negligence negligence
legal aid society :: n. an organization formed to assist persons who ha ... bar association. See also: pro bono
legatee :: n. a person or organization receiving a gift of an ... eficiary devise devisee legacy will
liability :: n. one of the most significant words in the field ... bility joint tortfeasors negligence
libel :: 1) n. to publish in print (including pictures), wr ... libel per se public figure slander
life estate :: n. the right to use or occupy real property for on ... hter, Sadie, will own the property.
malpractice :: n. An act or continuing conduct of a professional ... eed. See also: errors and omissions
mediation :: n. the attempt to settle a legal dispute through a ... a settlement. See also: arbitration
Miranda warning :: n. the requirement, also called the Miranda rule, ... me such a suspect? See also: rights
misjoinder :: n. the inclusion of parties (plaintiffs or defenda ... ent transactions. See also: joinder
negligence :: n. failure to exercise the care toward others whic ... gence per se res ipsa loquitur tort
no fault insurance :: n: a type of automobile insurance required of car ... ling lawsuits. See also: negligence
nominal party :: n. a defendant or a plaintiff included in a lawsui ... ed. See also: necessary party party
not guilty :: n. 1) plea of a person who claims not to have comm ... t guilty by reason of insanity plea
notice :: n. 1) information, usually in writing in all legal ... Thirty-day notice three-day notice
notice to quit :: n. the notice given by a landlord (owner) to a ten ... h-to-month notice unlawful detainer
own recognizance :: (O.R.) n. the basis for a judge allowing a person ... n recognizance. See also: bail O.R.
party :: n. 1) one of the participants in a lawsuit or othe ... y real party in interest respondent
petition :: 1) n. a formal written request to a court for an o ... dent. See also: divorce motion writ
plaintiff :: n. the party who initiates a lawsuit by filing a c ... lso: complaint defendant petitioner
power of attorney :: n. a written document signed by a person giving an ... y, as in a real estate transaction.
process :: n. in law, the legal means by which a person is re ... service of process subpena summons
promissory note :: n. a written promise by a person (variously called ... lso: interest obligee obligor usury
proof :: n. confirmation of a fact by evidence. In a trial, ... doubt preponderance of the evidence
property :: n. anything that is owned by a person or entity. P ... rty real property separate property
real party in interest :: n. the person or entity who will benefit from a la ... st is the beneficiary of the trust.
real property :: n. 1) all land, structures, firmly attached and in ... onal property real estate reversion
receiver :: n. 1) a neutral person (often a professional trust ... owing they were obtained illegally.
request :: 1) v. to ask or demand a judge to act (such as iss ... n. the act of asking or demanding.
retainer :: n. the advance payment to an attorney for services ... e stuck with extensive unpaid fees.
self-defense :: n. the use of reasonable force to protect oneself ... ndalism. See also: assault homicide
sentence :: 1) n. the punishment given to a person convicted o ... ence restitution suspended sentence
service of process :: n. the delivery of copies of legal documents such ... by publication substituted service
shortening time :: n. an order of the court in response to the motion ... e notice is served within 24 hours.
slander :: n. oral defamation, in which someone tells one or ... . See also: defamation fair comment
special appearance :: n. the representation by an attorney of a person i ... anged. See also: general appearance
specific performance :: n. the right of a party to a contract to demand th ... artwork. See also: contract prayer
speedy trial :: n. in criminal prosecutions, the right of a defend ... hurt by the waiver. See also: trial
statute of limitations :: n. a law which sets the maximum period which one c ... ies. See also: demurrer laches toll
straw man :: n. 1) a person to whom title to property or a busi ... a trail will mislead hunting dogs).
subpena duces tecum :: : (suh-pea-nah dooh-chess-take-uhm or dooh-kess-ta ... ng a court order. See also: witness
summary adjudication of issues :: n. a court order ruling that certain factual issue ... is made. See also: summary judgment
summons :: n. a document issued by the court at the time a la ... use service service of process writ
time served :: n. the period a criminal defendant has been in jai ... o the defendant. See also: sentence
title :: n. 1) ownership of real property or personal prope ... ink slip real property title search
toll :: v. 1) to delay, suspend or hold off the effect of ... bridge or take passage on a ferry.
trial :: n. the examination of facts and law presided over ... at a hearing held at a later time.
trust :: n. an entity created to hold assets for the benefi ... testamentary trust trustee trustor
unclean hands :: n. a legal doctrine which is a defense to a compla ... ough. See also: affirmative defense
unconscionable :: adj. referring to a contract or bargain which is s ... ee also: adhesion contract contract
venue :: n. 1) the proper or most convenient location for t ... ion. See also: forum non conveniens
verification :: n. the declaration under oath or upon penalty of p ... ed. See also: answer complaint oath
will :: n. a written document which leaves the estate of t ... will and testament probate testator

Popular Law Searches

legal definition ministerial act :: n. an act, particularly of a governmental employee ... exercising any individual judgment.
chancery legal definition :: n. a court that can order acts performed. Today ch ... ts in most states. See also: equity
testamentary disposition legal definition :: n. how the terms of a will divide the testator's ( ... named beneficiaries. See also: will
contract of sufferance :: n. a "hold-over" tenancy after a lease has expired ... y tenancy at will unlawful detainer
forthwith legal definition :: adv. a term found in contracts, court orders and s ... mediacy, with no excuses for delay.
forthwith definition legal :: adv. a term found in contracts, court orders and s ... mediacy, with no excuses for delay.
what is to wit in a legal contract :: prep. that is to say. Example: "the passengers in ... tty Bumgartner and Sherry Younger."
mirror wills legal definition :: n. the wills of a husband and wife which are ident ... d each names the other as executor.
clean hands doctrine latin :: n. a rule of law that a person coming to court wit ... ices. See also: affirmative defense
sine qua non only relates to contract law :: (see-nay kwah nahn) prep. Latin for "without which ... qua non of the injury to Playmate.

Other Law Terms - F

face amount :: n. the original amount due on a promissory note or ... rein, without calculating interest.
face value :: n. in shares of stock, the original cost of the st ... on the certificate, or "par value."
fact :: n. an actual thing or happening, which must be pro ... dge if he/she sits without a jury).
fact finder (finder of fact) :: n. in a trial of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution ... n facts. See also: question of fact
factor :: n. 1) a salesman who sells in his/her own name on ... ing that contributes to the result.
failure of consideration :: n. not delivering goods or services when promised ... n. See also: consideration contract
failure of issue :: n. when someone dies leaving no children or other ... ildren or other direct descendants.
fair comment :: n. a statement of opinion (no matter how ludicrous ... amation libel public figure slander
fair market value :: n. the amount for which property would sell on the ... so: appraise appraiser market value
fair trade laws :: n. state laws which permit manufacturers or produc ... state constitutions in many states.
fair use :: n. the non-competitive right to use of copyrighted ... for a royalty. See also: copyright
false arrest :: n. physically detaining someone without the legal ... sment. See also: false imprisonment
false imprisonment :: n. depriving someone of freedom of movement by hol ... for damages. See also: false arrest
false pretenses :: n. the crime of knowingly making untrue statements ... orm of theft. See also: fraud theft
family :: n. 1) husband, wife and children. 2) all blood rel ... ting this economic and social unit.
family purpose doctrine :: n. a rule of law that the registered owner of an a ... riving his/her car with permission.
federal courts :: n. the court system which handles civil and crimin ... rans' appeals. See also: bankruptcy
federal question :: n. one basis for filing a lawsuit in federal distr ... ves the federal court jurisdiction.
Federal Tort Claims Act :: n. a statute (1948) which removed the power of the ... diction to federal district courts.
fee :: n. 1) absolute title in land, from old French, fie ... See also: attorney's fee fee simple