Immunity: This means you can do something without consequences or punishment. Judges have “absolute” immunity in the course of the lawsuit, and this means you cannot, for all practical purposes, sue the judge for anything he or she does. “Qualified” immunity means that a person is free of consequences for mistakes, but not for deliberately wrongful actions. Whether the debt collectors can assert absolute immunity for making false statements in their affidavits in collection cases is a hotly debated issue. The highest courts to rule on the question have said there was no absolute immunity for witnesses in these circumstances, but as of the date of this printing, there are still a few courts which have disagreed.

In propria persona: Another way of saying “pro se.” Self-representation. See “pro se.” For video, see Defending Yourself Pro Se.

Informals: Informals refer to motions of lesser importance – or lesser dispute, anyway. For example, a motion to amend a petition or answer, for leave to file out of time (late), for protective order (in discovery) or the like – any of these might be called “informal motions.” And the time designated by the courts to hear motions like this might be called “informals.”

Instructions: Broadly, “instructions” are directions given to the jury from the judge. Sometimes the judge will instruct a jury to consider some evidence for specific purposes only, but to disregard it for other purposes, and sometimes a judge will instruct a jury to disregard or ignore some testimony, or to regard certain facts as proven. In a jury trial, the judge will also give the jury instructions on how to apply certain facts that the jury finds to be true or false. These can be either directions or questions and are called “jury instructions,” and answering them is the way the jury renders its verdict.

Interrogatories: These are formal questions you ask the other party for very specific information. Every state has Rules of Civil Procedure that control the use and effect of interrogatories, and most jurisdictions also have Local Rules which say how many interrogatories you can ask. Look at the examples provided in the supplemental materials and look at the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules to determine what you should do. For an article that discusses interrogatories, go to Conducting Discovery.