Glossary I




immunity - A grant by the court against prosecution in return for providing criminal evidence against another person or party.

impeachment of witness - An attack on the credibility of a witness by the testimony of other witnesses or other evidence.

implied contract - Not explicitly written or stated; determined by deduction from known facts or from the circumstances or conduct of the parties.

inadmissible - Evidence that cannot under the rules of evidence be admitted in court.

in camera - In chambers or in private. A hearing or inspection of documents that takes place outside the presence of the jury and public.

independent executor - A special kind of executor, permitted by the laws of certain states, who performs the duties of an executor without intervention by the court.

indeterminate sentence - A sentence of imprisonment to a specified minimum and maximum period of time, specifically authorized by statute, subject to termination by a parole board or other authorized agency after the prisoner has served the minimum term.

indictment - The formal charge issued by a grand jury stating that there is enough evidence that the defendant committed the crime to justify having a trial; it is used primarily for felonies.

indigent - Meeting certain standards of poverty, thereby qualifying a criminal defendant for representation by a public defender.

inferior court - Courts of limited jurisdiction.

in forma pauperis - In the manner of a pauper. Permission given to a person to sue without payment of court fees on claim of indigence or poverty.

information - A formal accusation by a prosecutor that the defendant committed a crime. An information is an alternative to an indictment as a means of charging a criminal.

infraction - A violation of law not punishable by imprisonment. Minor traffic offenses generally are considered infractions.

inheritance tax - A state tax on property that an heir or beneficiary under a will receives from a deceased person's estate. The heir or beneficiary pays this tax.

injunction - An order of the court prohibiting (or compelling) the performance of a specific act to prevent irreparable damage or injury.

instructions - Judge's explanation to the jury before it begins deliberations of the questions it must answer. Judge's instructions include information about law governing the case.

intangible assets - Nonphysical items such as stock certificates, bonds, bank accounts, and pension benefits that have value and must be taken into account in estate planning.

integrated bar - The organized state bar association to which every lawyer in a state must belong in order to be permitted to practice in that state.

interlocutory - Provisional; temporary; not final. Refers to orders and decrees of a court.

interrogatories - Written questions asked by one party of an opposing party, who must answer them in writing under oath; a discovery device in a lawsuit.

intervention - A proceeding in a lawsuit in which a third person is permitted by the court to make him or herself a party.

inter vivos gift - A gift made during the giver's life.

inter vivos trust - Another name for a living trust.

intestate - Dying without a will.

intestate succession - The process by which the property of a person who has died without a will passes on to others according to the state's descent and distribution statutes.

irrevocable trust - A trust that, once set up, the grantor may not revoke.

issue - The disputed point in a disagreement between parties in a lawsuit.