O.s.c.


Ir is abbbreviation for order to show cause.

Oath


A) The "swearing in" of a person assuming a public office, sometimes called the "oath of office." B) Sworn commitment of allegiance, as to one's country. C) A swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, which would subject the oath-taker to a prosecution for the crime of perjury if he/she knowingly lies in a statement either orally in a trial or deposition or in writing. Criminal perjury charges are rare, however, since the person stating the untruth will almost always claim error, mistake, loss of memory or opinion. At the beginning of any testimony by a witness, the clerk or court reporter administers an oath to the witness.

Obiter dicta


(oh-bitter dick-tah) Remarks of a judge which are not necessary to reaching a decision, but are made as comments, illustrations or thoughts. Generally, obiter dicta is simply dicta and it can not be considered as precedent.

Object


A) A particular thing. B) A goal, aim or purpose C) To ask the Court not to allow a particular question asked of a witness by the opposing lawyer on the basis that it is either legally not permitted, confusing in its wording or improper in its "form." An attorney may also object to an answer to the question on the basis that it is not "responsive" since a witness is limited to answering a question as asked and is not allowed to make unsolicited comments. The trial attorney must be alert and quick in order to object before the witness answers. This is called an "objection" and must be based on a specific list of legal restrictions on questions.

Objection


A lawyer's protest against the legal propriety of a question which has been asked of a witness by the opposing attorney, with the purpose of making the trial judge decide if the question can be asked. A proper objection must be based on one of the specific reasons for not allowing a question. These include: immaterial, incompetent (often stated together, which may mean the question is not about the issues in the trial or the witness is not qualified to answer), hearsay, irrelevant, leading (putting words in the mouth of one's own witness), calls for a conclusion (asking for opinion, not facts), compound question (two or more questions asked together), or lack of foundation (referring to a document lacking testimony as to authenticity or source). An objection must be made quickly and loudly to halt the witness before he/she answers. The judge will either "sustain" the objection (ruling out the question) or "overrule" it (allow the question). The judge may ask for an "offer of proof" in which the lawyer asking the question must explain to the court the reason the question is relevant, and what evidence his/her questions will bring out. Badly worded, confusing or compound questions are usually challenged by an objection to the form of the question, which is essentially a demand that the question be withdrawn and reworded. An attorney may "object" to a witness's answer as "non-responsive" to the question, but the proper request should be that the answer or a comment without a question be "stricken" from the record.

Obligation


A legal duty to pay or do something.

Obligee


(ah-bluh-jee) The person or entity to whom an obligation is owed.

Obligor


(ah-bluh-gore) The person or entity who owes an obligation to another.

Obscene


A highly subjective reference to material or acts which display or describe sexual activity in a manner appealing only to "prurient interest," with no legitimate artistic, literary or scientific purpose. However, the courts have had difficulty making a clear non-subjective definition since "one person's obscenity is another person's art".

Obstruction of justice


Interference with the administration of the Courts, the judicial system or law enforcement officers, including threatening witnesses, improper conversations with jurors, hiding evidence or interfering with an arrest. Such type of activity is a crime.

Occupancy


A) Obtaining possession of real property or a thing which has no known owner, with the intention of gaining ownership. B) Living in or using premises, as a tenant or owner.

Occupant


A) A person who obtaines possession of real property or a thing which has no known owner, intending to gain ownership. B) Someone living in a residence or using premises, as a tenant or owner.

Occupation


A) Possession of real property or use of a thing. B) Fairly permanent trade, profession, employment, business or means of livelihood.

Occupational disease


An illness resulting from long-term employment in a particular type of work, such as cancer among asbestos installers.

Occupational hazard


A danger or risk which is inherent in certain employments or workplaces, such as deep-sea diving, cutting timber, high-rise steel construction, high-voltage electrical wiring, use of pesticides, painting bridges and many factories.

Occupy the field


To preempt an area of statutory law by a higher authority.

Of counsel


An attorney who is not actively involved in the day-to-day work of a law firm, but may be available in particular matters or for consultation. This designation often identifies a semi-retired partner, an attorney who occasionally uses the office for a few clients or one who only consults on a particular case or on his/her specialty. Putting the name of the attorney "of counsel" on a law firm's stationery gives the office the prestige of the lawyer's name and reputation, without requiring his/her full-time presence.

Off calendar


An order of the Court to take a lawsuit, petition or motion off the list of pending cases or motions which are scheduled to be heard. A case or motion will be ordered off calendar if the lawyers agree (stipulate) to drop it, if the moving party's lawyer fails to appear, if a suit is settled pending final documentation or any number of procedural reasons for the judge to determine the case should not proceed at that time. A suit or motion can be put back "on calendar" by stipulation of the lawyers or upon motion of either party.

Offender


An accused in a criminal case or one who is convicted of a crime.

Offense


A crime or punishable violation of law of any type or magnitude.

Offer


A specific proposal to enter into an agreement with another. An offer is essential to the formation of an enforceable contract. An offer and acceptance of the offer creates the contract.

Offer of proof


An explanation which is made by an attorney to a judge during trial to show why a question which has been objected to as immaterial or irrelevant will lead to evidence of value to proving the case of the lawyer's client. The offer provides the opposition a preview of the questions (and helps prevent surprise), but is essential to overcome the objections.

Offeree


A person or entity to whom an offer to enter into a contract is made by another (the offeror).

Offeror


n. a person or entity who makes a specific proposal to another (the offeree) to enter into a contract.

Officer


A) A public official with executive authority ranging from city manager to governor. 3) a law enforcement person such as a policeman. B) A high-level management official of a corporation or an unincorporated business, hired by the board of directors of a corporation or the owner of a business, such as a president, vice president, secretary, financial officer or chief executive officer (CEO). Such officers have the actual or apparent authority to contract or otherwise act on behalf of the corporation or business.

Officer of the court


Any person who has an obligation to promote justice and effective operation of the judicial system, including judges, the attorneys who appear in court, bailiffs, clerks and other personnel. As officers of the court lawyers have an absolute ethical duty to tell judges the truth, including avoiding dishonesty or evasion about reasons the attorney or his/her client is not appearing, the location of documents and other matters related to conduct of the courts.

Official


A) A public officer or governmental employee who is empowered to exercise judgment. B) An officer of a corporation or business. C) An act, document or anything sanctioned or authorized by a public official or public agency.

Official misconduct


Improper and/or illegal acts committed by a public official which violate his/her duty to follow the law and act on behalf of the public good. Often such conduct is under the guise or "color" of official authority.

Officious intermeddler


A volunteer who assists and/or benefits another without contractual responsibility or legal duty to do so, but who does not demand compensation for his/her actions. The courts generally find that the intermeddler must rely on the equally voluntary gratitude of the recipient of the alleged benefit.

Offset


A) To counterclaim an alleged debt which is owed by a claimant to reduce the demand of that claimant. B) It is also called a "setoff," the deduction by a debtor from a claim or demand of a debt or obligation. Such an offset is based upon a counterclaim against the party making the original claim.

Omission


A) Leaving out a word, phrase or other language from a contract, deed, judgment or other document. If the parties agree that the omission was due to a mutual mistake, the document may be "reformed," but this may require a petition for a court order making the correction if it had been relied upon by government authorities or third parties. B) Failure to perform an act agreed to, where there is a duty to an individual or the public to act (including omitting to take care) or where it is required by law. Such an omission may give rise to a lawsuit in the same way as a negligent or improper act.

Omnibus clause


A) An automobile insurance policy clause which provides coverage no matter who is driving the car. B) A provision in a judgment for distribution of an estate of a deceased person, giving "all other property" to the beneficiaries named in the will.

On all fours


A lawsuit in which all the legal issues are identical (or so close as to make no difference) to another case, particularly an appeals decision which is a precedent in deciding the suit before the court.

On demand


In a promissory note, a requirement that the amount due must be paid when the person to whom the funds are owed demands payment (rather than upon a certain date or on installments). Such a note is called a "demand note."

On file


Having been formally filed with the clerk of the court or the judge, such as a pleading is "on file."

On or about


A phrase referring to a date or place which is used in a complaint in a lawsuit or criminal charge if there is any uncertainty at all, in order to protect the person making the allegations of fact from being challenged as being inaccurate.

On or before


A phrase which is found in a contract or promissory note, designating performance or payment by a particular date, but which may be done prior to that date.

On the merits


A judgment, decision or ruling of a Court which is based upon the facts presented in evidence and the law applied to that evidence. A judge decides a case "on the merits" when he/she bases the decision on the fundamental issues and considers technical and procedural defenses as either inconsequential or overcome. Example: An attorney is two days late in filing a set of legal points and authorities in opposition to a motion to dismiss. Rather than dismiss the case based on this technical procedural deficiency, the judge considers the case "on the merits" as if this mistake had not occurred.

On the stand


Testifying during a trial, in which the witness almost always sits in a chair beside the judge's bench, often raised above the floor level of the courtroom and behind a knee-high panel.

Open court


The conduct of judicial proceedings (trials, hearings and routine matters such as trial settings) in which the public may be present. Some hearings and discussions are held in the judge's chambers or with the courtroom cleared of non-participants and/or the jury such as adoptions, sanity hearings, juvenile criminal charges and arguments over evidence and motions which might prejudice the jury.

Opening statement


The explanation which are furnished by the attorneys for both sides at the beginning of the trial of what will be proved during the trial. The defendant's attorney may delay the opening statement for the defense until the plaintiff's evidence has been introduced. Unlike a "closing argument," the opening statement is supposed to be a factual presentation and not an argument.

Operation of law


A change or transfer which occurs automatically due to existing laws and not an agreement or Court order.

Opinion


The explanation of a Court's judgment or advice of Court. When a trial court judgment is appealed to a court of appeals, the appeals judge's opinion will be detailed, citing case precedents, analyzing the facts, the applicable law and the arguments of the attorneys for the parties. Those opinions considered by the court to be worthy of serving as a precedent or involving important legal issues will be published in the official reports available in most law libraries.

Option


A right to purchase property or require another to perform upon agreed-upon terms. An option is paid for as part of a contract, but must be "exercised" in order for the property to be purchased or the performance of the other party to be required. "Exercise" of an option normally requires notice and payment of the contract price. Thus, a potential buyer of a tract of land might pay Rs 6,000 for the option which gives him/her a period of time to decide if he/she wishes to purchase, tying up the property for that period, and then pay Rs 600,000 for the property. If the time to exercise the option expires then the option terminates. The amount paid for the option itself is not refundable since the funds bought the option whether exercised or not. Often an option is the right to renew a contract such as a lease, broadcasting a television series, the employment of an actor or athlete, or some other existing business relationship. A "lease-option" contract provides for a lease of property with the right to purchase the property during or upon expiration of the lease.

Or


Either; in the alternative. It is often vital to distinguish between "or" and "and." Example: Title to the Cadillac written "Amit or Rahul" means either one could transfer the car, but if written "Amit and Rahul," both must sign to change title.

Oral contract


An agreement which is made with spoken words and either no writing or only partially written. An oral contract is just as valid as a written agreement. The main problem with an oral contract is proving its existence or the terms. An oral contract is often provable by action taken by one or both parties which is obviously in reliance on the existence of a contract. The other significant difference between oral and written contracts is that the time to sue for breach of an oral contract (the statute of limitations) is sometimes shorter.

Order


A) Every direction or mandate of a judge or a Court which is not a judgment or legal opinion (although both may include an order) directing that something be done or that there is prohibition against some act. This can range from an order that a case will be tried on a certain date, to an order that a convicted defendant be executed in the prison. B) For a judge to direct that a party before the Court perform a particular act or refrain from certain acts, or to direct a public official or court employee to take certain actions such as seizing property.

Order to show cause


A judge's written mandate that a party appear in Court on a certain date and give reasons, legal and/or factual, why a particular order should not be made. This rather stringent method of making a party appear with proof and legal arguments is applied to cases of possible contempt for failure to pay child support, sanctions for failure to file necessary documents or appear previously, or to persuade the judge he/she should not grant a writ of mandate against a governmental agency.

Ordinance


A statute which is enacted by a city or town.

Ordinary


Regular, customary and continuing, and not unusual or extraordinary, as in ordinary expense, ordinary handling, ordinary risks or ordinary skill.

Ordinary course of business


Conduct of business within normal commercial customs and usages.

Original jurisdiction


The authority of a Court to hold a trial. It is different from appellate jurisdiction to hear appeals from trial judgments.

Orphan


A child, particularly a minor, whose two natural parents are dead. In some cases, such as whether a child is eligible for public financial assistance to an orphan, "orphan" can mean a child who has lost one parent.

Ostensible agent


A person who has been given the appearance of being an employee or acting (an agent) for another (principal), which would make anyone dealing with the ostensible agent reasonably believe he/she was an employee or agent. This could include giving the ostensible agent stationery or forms of the company, letting him/her use the company truck, telephone or desk in the company office. Businesses should be careful not to allow such situations in which an ostensible agent could bind the business on a contract or make the apparent employer responsible for damages for an accident, libel or assault by the "agent."

Ostensible authority


Apparent authority to do something or represent another person or entity.

Ouster


A) Removal of someone from a position or office against his/her expectations or will. B) The wrongful dispossession of a rightful owner or tenant of real property, forcing the party pushed out of the premises to bring a lawsuit to regain possession. This often arises between partners (in a restaurant or store) or roommates, when one co-owner or co-tenant forces out the other, changes locks or makes occupancy intolerable.

Out of court


Actions, including negotiations between parties and/or their attorneys, without any direct involvement of a judge or the judicial system. It refers to an "out-of-court settlement" in which the parties work out a settlement agreement, which they may present to the court for inclusion in a judgment approving the agreement so that the parties can request a court to enforce the settlement in case one of the parties reneges and fails to honor the terms of the settlement. Quite often a judgment approving an out-of-court settlement is held in abeyance and replaced by a dismissal if the terms are fulfilled. Some out-of-court settlements are kept confidential and the lawsuit is dismissed.

Out-of-pocket expenses


Moneys which are paid directly for necessary items by a contractor, trustee, executor, administrator or any person responsible to cover expenses not detailed by agreement. They may be recoverable from a defendant in a lawsuit for breach of contract; allowable for reimbursement by trustees, executors or administrators; or deductible by a landlord from a tenant's security deposit for damages beyond normal wear and tear.

Outbuilding


A structure which is not connected with the primary residence on a parcel of property. It may include a shed, garage, barn, cabana, pool house or cottage.

Outlaw


Anyone who commits serious crimes and acts outside the law.

Output contract


An agreement in which a producer agrees to sell its entire production to the buyer, who in turn agrees to purchase the entire output, whatever that is.

Overcharge


A) To file a criminal complaint for crimes of greater degree than the known facts support, in an effort by the prosecutor to intimidate the accused. B) To charge more than a posted or advertised price.

Overrule


A) To decide that a prior appeals decision on a legal issue was not correct and is therefore no longer a valid precedent on that legal question. B) To reject an attorney's objection to a question to a witness or admission of evidence. By overruling the objection, the trial judge allows the question or evidence in court. If the judge agrees with the objection, he/she "sustains" the objection and does not allow the question or evidence.

Overt act


In criminal law, an action which might be innocent itself but if part of the preparation and active furtherance of a crime, can be introduced as evidence of a accused's participation in a crime.

Owe


To have a legal duty to pay funds to another.

Own


To have legal title or right to something.

Own recognizance


(O.R.) The basis for a judge for allowing a person accused of a crime to be free while awaiting trial, without posting bail, on the defendant's own promise to appear and his/her reputation. The judge may consider the seriousness of the crime charged, the likelihood the defendant will always appear, the length of time the person has lived in the area, his/her reputation in the community, his/her employment, financial burdens and the demeanor of the accused.

Owner


One who has legal title or right to something. Contrary to the cynical adage: "Possession is nine-tenths of the law," possession does not necessarily make one a legal owner.

Ownership


Legal title which is coupled with exclusive legal right to possession. Co-ownership, however, means that more than one person has a legal interest in the same thing.