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Glossary


Magistrate
Judicial officer exercising some of the functions of a judge. It also refers in a general way to a judge.
Malfeasance
Evil doing, ill conduct; the commission of some act which is positively prohibited by law.
Malicious Prosecution
An action instituted with intention of injuring the defendant and without probable cause, and which terminates in favor of the person prosecuted.
Mandamus
A writ issued by a court ordering a public official to perform an act.
Mandate
The official decree by a court of appeal.
Manslaughter
The unlawful killing of another without intent to kill; either voluntary (upon a sudden impulse); or involuntary (during the commission of an unlawful act not ordinarily expected to result in great bodily harm.)
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.
Memoralized
In writing.
Mens rea
The “guilty mind” necessary to establish criminal responsibility.
Miranda warning
Requirement that police tell a suspect in their custody of his/her constitutional rights before they question him/her. So named as a result of the Miranda v. Arizona ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Misdemeanor
An offense punishable by not more than one year in county jail and $1,000 fine.
Mistrial
An invalid trial, caused by fundamental error. When a mistrial is declared, the trial must start again from the selection of the jury.
Mitigating circumstances
Those which do not constitute a justification or excuse for an offense but which may be considered as reasons for reducing the degree of blame.
Mittimus
The name of an order in writing, issuing from a court and directing the sheriff or other officer to convey a person to a prison, asylum, or reformatory, and directing the jailer or other appropriate official to receive and safely keep the person until his or her fate shall be determined by due course of law.
Moot
A moot case or a moot point is one not subject to a judicial determination because it involves an abstract question or a pretended controversy that has not yet actually arisen or has already passed. Mootness usually refers to a court’s refusal to consider a case because the issue involved has been resolved prior to the court’s decision, leaving nothing that would be affected by the court’s decision.
Motion
Oral or written request made by a party to an action before, during, or after a trial, upon which a court issues a ruling or order.
Motion in limine
Motion for order against admission or prejudicial statements or questions.
Motion to mitigate sentence
A motion to reduce the sentence.
Motion to seal/expunge
A motion to close records to public inspection.
Motion to suppress
A motion to prevent admission of evidence in a case.
Murder
The unlawful killing of a human being with 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.