What's a Matter?

What's a matter? Notice I said, "What's A matter," not "What's THE Matter". That's because the word "matter" has a specific meaning at law firms. So let's look at the definition of a matter, as well as some other legal terms heard often in law firms.

  • Matter - A case in a lawsuit. For example, Smith v. Jones and Morgan v. North American Hospital are both matters. 
  • Count - Causes of action listed in the Complaint. For example, Count I might list alleged negligent acts (the cause of action) of the first named defendant, Count II the alleged negligent acts of the second named defendant and so on.
  • Civil Court - A court of law for legal remedies in which one party claims that another party caused an injury. Civil court handles medical malpractice and personal injury cases.
  • Criminal Court - A court used for handling lawsuits brought by a prosecutor that charges a person with a crime. Forensic nurses often use their expertise identifying the effects of physical violence for cases tried in criminal court.
  • Hearing - A brief session in court without a jury present in which an issue is resolved or an attorney argues about an issue. Examples in medical malpractice cases include hearings held on objections to document production or motions to continue trials.
  • Clerk of Court - An administrative person appointed by the court responsible for maintaining court records and assisting with scheduling hearings and trials.
  • Calendar Call - A hearing that attorneys attend to schedule their cases for trial.
  • Docket - A court calendar, which includes all the trials and hearings scheduled to occur on a particular day, week, or month.
  • JA - Judicial Assistant. The secretary or administrative assistant for a judge or group of judges. One of a JA's responsibilities is to act as a liaison between the judge and attorneys.
  • Bailiff - An official, often a police officer, who keeps peace in the courtroom and performs other duties as directed by the judge and clerk.
  • Order - A court decision, excluding the final court ruling. For example, the judge orders the Plaintiff or Defendant to answer interrogatories.
  • Judgment - The final court ruling. For example, the judge dismisses a case through a summary judgment.

...Katy Jones