magistrate judges - Judicial officers who assist U.S. district judges in getting cases ready for trial, who may decide some criminal and civil trials when both parties agree to have the case heard by a magistrate judge instead of a judge.
mala in se - Evil in itself -- behavior that is universally regarded as criminal, such as murder.
mala prohibita - Wrong because prohibited -- behavior that is criminal only because a society defines it as such. An example is the manufacture of alcoholic beverages during Prohibition.
mandate - A judicial command directing the proper officer to enforce a judgment, sentence, or decree.
manslaughter - The unlawful killing of another without premeditation, either voluntary -- upon a sudden impulse, for example, a quarrel erupts into a fistfight in which one of the participants is killed; or involuntary -- during the commission of an unlawful act not ordinarily expected to result in great bodily harm, or during the commission of a lawful act without proper caution, for example, driving an automobile at excessive speed resulting in a fatal collision.
mediation - A form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who helps them agree on a settlement.
memoranda of law - Formal written arguments in support of a motion filed in a case.
mens rea - The "guilty mind" necessary to establish criminal responsibility.
merits - Issues of legal substance at stake in a case, as opposed to procedural considerations.
Miranda warning - The warning police must give suspects regarding their constitutional right to remain silent and their right to an attorney.
misdemeanor - Less serious criminal offense usually punishable by a sentence of one year or less.
mistrial - An erroneous or invalid trial; a trial that cannot stand in law because of lack of jurisdiction, incorrect procedure with respect to jury selection, or disregard of some other fundamental requisite; an invalid trial because of the inability of a jury to reach a verdict.
motion to dismiss - A formal request for the court to dismiss a complaint because of insufficiency of evidence or because the law does not recognize the injury or harm claimed.
multiplicity of actions - Numerous and unnecessary attempts to litigate the same right.
municipal courts - In the judicial organization of some states, courts whose territorial authority is confined to a city or community.
murder - The unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought (deliberate intent to kill). Murder in the first degree is characterized by premeditation; murder in the second degree is characterized by a sudden and instantaneous intent to kill or to cause injury without caring whether the injury kills or not.