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Terms and Definitions

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There are currently 5 names in this directory beginning with the letter H.
Habeas Corpus
Latin term meaning "you have the body." The writ of habeas corpus, known as the great writ, has varied use in criminal and civil contexts. It is a procedure for obtaining a judicial determination of the legality of an individual's custody. Technically, it is used in the criminal law context to bring the petitioner before the court to inquire into the legality of his or her confinement. The writ of federal habeas corpus is used to test the constitutionality of a state criminal conviction. The writ is used in the civil context to challenge the validity of child custody and deportations.
A proceeding where evidence is taken to determine an issue of fact and to reach a decision on the basis of the evidence, describes whatever takes place before magistrates sitting without jury. Thus a hearing, such as an administrative hearing, may take place outside the judicial process, before officials who have been granted judicial authority expressly for the purpose of conducting such hearings.
Hearsay Rule
A rule that declares not admissible as evidence any statement other than that by by a witness while testifying at the hearing and offered into evidence to prove the truth of the matter stated. The hearsay statement may be oral or written and includes nonverbal conduct intended as a substitute for words. The reason for the hearsay rule is that credibility of the witness is the key ingredient in weighing the truth of his statement; so when that statement is made out of court, without benefit of cross-examination and without the witness' demeanor being subject to assessment by the judge or jury, there is generally no adequate basis for determining whether the out-of-court statement is true.
Any killing of a human being by the act, agency, procurement, or culpable omission of another. An unlawful homicide, or one resulting from an unlawful act, may constitute murder or manslaughter. Justifiable homicide is the killing of a human being by commandment of the law, in the execution of public justice, in self-defense, in defense of habitation, property or person.
Hung Jury
One whose members cannot reconcile their differences of opinion and that therefore cannot reach a verdict by the degree of agreement required (generally unanimity, but sometimes a substantial majority).