Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

CNO Legal Glossary

The supervised release of a prison inmate after part of the inmate’s prison sentence has been completed.
In court proceedings, one who files a civil or criminal case, one against whom a case is filed, or one with a direct interest in a case.
Per curiam
Latin, meaning “for the court.”  An unsigned opinion, not authored by a specific judge or justice.
Peremptory challenge
The right of an attorney to exclude a certain number of potential jurors from a trial without giving a reason.
Continuing until the end of time.
Per se
Latin, meaning “in itself.” Inherently, without further explanation of the meaning.
Petition for certiorari
A request for a higher court’s review of a case that may be either granted or denied by an appellate court.
Petit jury (or trial jury)
A group of citizens who hear the evidence at trial and determine the facts in dispute, according to the law as explained by a judge.
A person or entity that files a formal complaint with the court and begins a lawsuit.
In a criminal case, the defendant’s statement of “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest” in answer to a charge.
Plea agreement, plea bargain
Negotiation between a prosecutor and a criminal defendant in which the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to a criminal charge without a trial taking place. The prosecutor may offer a concession to encourage a plea agreement.
Formal written statements filed with the clerk of court that describe a party’s legal or factual arguments about the case.
Political subdivision
An entity of the state, such as a municipal corporation, township, county, or school district, that carries out specific governmental functions.
Postconviction relief
A civil proceeding brought by a person convicted of a crime attacking the conviction and asserting constitutional rights.
Postrelease control
A period of supervision by the adult parole authority following an offender’s release from prison.
A decision in an earlier case – with facts and legal issues similar to a dispute currently before a court – that should be followed unless there is good reason to depart from the earlier ruling.
Predicate offense
An underlying offense that may affect a sentence for a different criminal offense.
 A mistake made by the court or an attorney that affects the outcome of the case—not a harmless error.
Preponderance of evidence
A standard that requires the proof offered in a case to be greater in weight than the proof opposing it. The evidentiary standard common in civil lawsuits.
Presentence report
A report that provides background information, such as a person’s personal and criminal history, prepared for a judge to consider before sentencing a convicted defendant.
Pretrial conference
A meeting of the judge and lawyers to plan a trial and also discuss the possibility of settling the case without trial.
Prima facie
Latin, meaning “at first view.” The minimum facts needed to allow a case to move forward.
Place of state confinement for those convicted of felonies, sometimes referred to as a penitentiary.
A special legal right, exemption, or immunity that provides a specific legal protection.
Privileged documents
Materials considered confidential for specific legal reasons.
Probable cause
Enough facts to allow law enforcement to arrest someone, or search someone or something.
Probation officer
A person who supervises convicted defendants placed by the court on community control and those released on postrelease control.
Pro bono publico, pro bono
Latin, meaning “for the public good.” Legal work performed by attorneys for those clients who are unable to pay.
The rules for conducting a lawsuit.
Pro hac vice
Latin, meaning “for this event.” Permission given to an attorney not admitted in a court’s jurisdiction to handle a particular case in that court.
Pro se
Latin, meaning “for oneself.”  Representing oneself or serving as one’s own lawyer.
To charge someone for a crime and begin a criminal action in court.
One who represents the government in cases against criminal defendants.
Protective order
A court order to protect a person from another individual’s actions. During discovery, an order to block the release of certain information.

The CNO Legal Glossary is part of an ongoing effort to educate the public about the courts and explain the legal system. The glossary is an evolving, interactive public resource. CNO encourages readers to send in their ideas for words and phrases to be considered for inclusion in the glossary. Submit your suggestions to The content of the CNO Legal Glossary does not represent the legal views of the court and is not considered or consulted by the justices in case deliberations.