Arkansas District Court Clerks Association

Glossary of Terms


Abate: To reduce, diminish or defer a cause of action. To destroy or completely end. (This is most often used when a defendant is deceased and has pending charges or an outstanding balance with the court. The charge/balance will be abated by death and dismissed or satisfied.)

Abscond: To go in a clandestine manner out of the jurisdiction of the courts, or to lie concealed, in order to avoid their process. To hide, conceal, or absent onself clandestinely, with the intent to avoid legal process. Postponing limitations. Fleeing from arresting or prosecuting officer of the state.

Absentia: The absence of him who is away in behalf of the republic (on business of the state) ought not be prejudicial either to him or to another.

Abstract of Record: A short summary of the court’s finding of a case as found in the court record. This term commonly refers to the form that the courts prepare and send to the Department of Finance and Administration, Driver Services Division.

Acquittal: To find not guilty and set free. The legal and formal certification of the innocence of a person who has been charged with a crime; a finding of not guilty.

Action: A legal dispute brought before a court. An “action” is also referred to as a case or a lawsuit.

Active Case: A pending case; not disposed of.

Adjourn: To suspend indefinitely, or until a later stated time.

Adjournment: The postponing or putting off of a case or session of court until another time or place.

Adjudicate: To determine judicially; giving or pronouncing the judgment; to enter a finding of guilt or innocence.

Administrative Duties: An act which is necessary to be done to carry out legislative policies.

Administrative Office of the Courts: An agency of the state that operates under the direction and supervision of the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This office is responsible for the education of the Arkansas Judges and the City and District Court Clerks.

Adversary System: A system where there are two opposing sides. In, district court the opposing sides are the city/state prosecutor and the defendant. In this type of system, the judge and jury are neutral so that they will be able to determine the truth.

Affiant: One who, being sworn, makes and signs an affidavit.

Affidavit: A written statement, usually about the truth of a set of facts, sworn to before a person who is officially permitted by law to administer an oath.

Afforded: Given or provided, as in the services of a public defender.

Allegation: The assertion, declaration, or statement of a party to an action, made in a pleading, establishing what the party expects to prove.

Alias: A term used to indicate another name by which a person is known. When used in connection with a description of a person, it indicates that he or she has used or been known by another name.

Alias Warrant or Alias Summons: A second warrant or summons issued after the original has not accomplished its purpose. An alias warrant or summons is generally printed when the original has been accidentally or erroneously lost or destroyed. Therefore, a second copy is printed to replace the original. It is customary to make a notation on the second summons or warrant that it is an “Alias”.

Allegation: A declaration, assertion or statement of a party to a lawsuit that sets out what the party is trying to prove.

Ambiguity: The possibility that something can be interpreted in more than one way; uncertainness.

Amend: To alter or change by adding or subtracting. i.e., the Court can amend a judgment, a plaintiff can amend a complaint and defendant can amend an answer.

Annotation: A brief summary of a case interpreting statutes. These summaries are found in annotated compilations of statutes.

Annul: To make void or of no effect. To annul a judgment or judicial proceeding is to deprive it of all force and authority.

Answer: A pleading by which the defendant responds to or answers the claims of the plaintiff’s complaint.

Appeal: The process of having a higher court conduct a new trial or review either the facts and law or just questions of law from a proceeding held in a lower court. All defendants have a right to appeal their cases. There is a new trial in the appellate court, when the case is appealed from this court.

Appeal Bond: The bond presented to the court by a defendant who desires to appeal his or her case to a higher court. The bond may be a professional or cash bond.

Appearance: The formal act by which a defendant submits to the jurisdiction of a court. The formal proceeding by which a defendant submits himself or herself to the jurisdiction of the court. Other than the defendant, only an attorney hired to represent the defendant may appear for the defendant.

Appellant: The person who appeals a case to a higher court.

Appellate Courts: Courts that have jurisdiction over appeals from lower courts.

Arraign: To bring a person charged with a crime before the court for the purpose of informing him or her of the charges, appointing counsel if necessary, setting bail, making pretrial motions, taking a plea to the charges.

Arraignment: The proceeding in which the court identifies the defendant, explains the charge, appoints counsel if necessary and asks for a plea from the defendant.

Arrest Warrant: An order issued to a peace officer by a judge, requiring the arrest of a named person.

Attachment: The act of seizing a person or property under the authority of a judicial order so that the person or property is before the court, subject to its judgment.

Attest: To certify as being true or genuine.

Attorney of record: A person qualified to practice law who represents the legal interests of another person. The attorney whose name appears in the permanent records or files of a case and bears the responsibility for handling the case on behalf of the person being represented.

Authentication: A certification of an original or copy of an original. An authentication confirms the validity of a document to be true and correct.

Authority: The right to exercise power.