Journalist's Guide

property bond secured by pledged personal property or a lien on real property; and an unsecured bond. Battery : An unlawful application of physical force to, or offensive touching of, another without their consent. Bench conference : A meeting either on or off the record at the judge’s bench between the judge, counsel and sometimes the defendant, out of the hearing of the jury. Bench Warrant : A warrant issued by a judge for the arrest of a defendant for failure to appear in court as required. Bifurcate : To try issues separately, such as guilt and criminal responsibility in a criminal proceeding or liability and damages in a civil action. Bill of Particulars : A demand by a defendant in writing, unless otherwise ordered by the court, seeking specific factual details about a civil complaint or criminal charge. In a criminal case, the purpose of the bill of particulars is to guard against the taking of an accused by surprise, by limiting the scope of the proof. Body Attachment : A written order issued by a court directing a sheriff or peace officer to take custody of and bring before the court: 1. A witness who fails to comply with a subpoena. 2. A party who fails to comply with a court order in a civil action. 3. A material witness in a criminal case. Burden of Proof : The necessity of proving facts at issue; in Maryland, the criminal burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt”; the civil burden of proof is “by a preponderance of the evidence” or, sometimes, “by clear and convincing evidence.” Capital Case : A criminal case in which the allowable punishment includes death. Case Law : Decisions of federal and state courts interpreting and applying laws in specific fact situations. Opinions are reported in various volumes. Certiorari (Writ of) : The discretionary process (order) by which a higher court calls for review of the records of a lower court; in Maryland, the process used by the Court of Appeals to review decisions of, or to take cases pending in, the Court of Special Appeals or Circuit Court. Chain of Custody : An accounting for the continuous possession of evidence, such as narcotics in a drug trial, to ensure no substitution, tampering, or improper handling affects the credibility of the evidence. Change of Venue : A transfer or removal of a civil or criminal case from one judicial district to another (compare “Removal”). Charging Document : A written accusation alleging a defendant has committed an offense includes a citation, an indictment, information, and statement of charges. Citation : A charging document, other than an indictment, information, or statement of charges, that is issued to a defendant by a peace officer or other person authorized by law to do so. Collateral Attack : An attack on a judgment other than a direct appeal to a higher court.


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