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Legalese From A to Z: 5 Legal Terms Beginning With 'V'

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. | Last updated on
Legalese From A to Z - FindLaw

Slowly but surely, our weekly series Legalese From A to Z has been working its way through the alphabet, one letter at a time.

Legalese is the name given to the specialized language used by lawyers and judges, found within statutes and other legal documents. It's not necessarily its own language, but it can seem pretty foreign to those outside the legal world.

Each week, we pick a letter of the alphabet and take a closer look at five important, noteworthy, or particularly interesting bits of legalese. This week, we take a closer look at five legal terms beginning with the letter "V":

  • Vacation. While lawyers certainly take vacations from time to time (some more than others perhaps) the word vacation has another, specific meaning in the legal context. When a judgment has been vacated it has been set aside and made legally void, typically by a higher court. In the criminal system, a conviction may be vacated because of ineffective counsel, juror misconduct, or the breach of a plea agreement, among other reasons.
  • Venire. The venire is the panel of potential jurors from which a trial's jury is selected. Under some circumstances the court may issue a writ of venire facias, ordering the sheriff to summon a jury.
  • Voir dire. Like venire, voir dire typically involves the selection of a jury. Voir dire is the process of questioning the prospective jurors in the venire to determine which are qualified and suited for jury service. Voir dire may also refer to questioning a proposed witness in a similar fashion.
  • Voluntary waste. In property law, waste occurs when a person with a lesser estate in property (such as a tenant or lessee) causes damage to the property to the detriment of another person with an interest in that property, such as the property's owner or an heir. When that waste is committed intentionally, it is known as voluntary waste. The owner of the property or the holder of a vested future interest can typically file a lawsuit to recover for the damages caused through voluntary waste.
  • Vicarious liability. In some instances, the civil liability for a person's actions can be imposed on another person through vicarious liability. One of the more common forms of vicarious liability is the liability of employers for the negligent or intentional acts of their employees, known as respondeat superior.

If you need help with defining a legal word or phrase, check out the FindLaw's Legal Dictionary for free access to more than 8,000 definitions of legal terms. In next week's Legalese From A to Z, we'll check out five more legal terms you may not know, beginning with the letter "W."

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