Object: To make an objection by stating it to the court or (at a deposition) to the other party.
Objection: Why one party thinks some evidence should not be allowed to be shown to the jury. You tell the judge the legal basis for your objections to evidence when you “make an objection.” If you do not make an objection, the court will generally allow the evidence to be heard and considered by the jury even if the Rules of Evidence don’t allow it. That’s because a trial is a contest, not an abstract search for truth or justice. And you are allowed to waive most objections, either by mistake or as part of your strategy.
Offer of proof: Sometimes a party objects (makes an objection) to evidence you want to give the jury. When this happens, the judge can overrule the objection and allow you to give the jury the evidence, or it can sustain the objection and prevent you from giving it to the jury. When the judge sustains an objection to evidence you consider important, you make an “offer of proof,” where you tell the judge what the evidence would show if he or she allowed you to put it in front of the jury. Sometimes the judge will then reverse the ruling and let you give it to the jury, but sometimes not. If you want to appeal the ruling, you will need to make an offer of proof so that the court of appeals can understand the importance of what you wanted to show.
Opening statement: This is when you tell the jury what you think the
evidence will show. You might say, for example, “The evidence will show that I did not borrow any money from the plaintiff in this case…” (The evidence will always show that in these cases because they are cases involving debt collectors).
Opportunity cost: This is an economics term rather than a legal one. It refers to what you lose whenever you make a choice. Some opportunity costs are obviously worthwhile: you lose a day’s work when you spend it in trial (opportunity cost is your day’s salary or wages), but if you make a claim for $3,000 go away by spending the time in court, chances are it was time well spent. On the other hand, if the company suing you must spend ten hours to gain a $2,000 judgment against you, and during that amount of time it could bring a hundred cases (it could!) against different people and get judgments of $250,000, then the opportunity cost of pursuing you is pretty high and it is not economically feasible or reasonable to do so. They might still do it anyway, for reasons other than economic reasons related only to your case. That is, they might not want to be known as a “soft touch” for settling too easily, but most debt collectors do not, in fact, worry about this because so many defendants are unrepresented (and so wouldn’t know their reputation).
Order: An intermediate ruling by the judge about something. It may order you to provide records (“order compelling production”) or to provide the court or the other side certain information by a certain time (scheduling order), or it may decide that one side has proven certain facts (order granting summary judgment). The order will usually discuss the facts, reasons and conclusions of the judge, but the judgment will usually merely give the bottom line.
An order is not usually considered final until a judgment has been entered, and orders typically cannot be appealed, only judgments. Sometimes a court’s ruling will be called a “Final Order and Judgment,” and this can be appealed. Sometimes rulings even in the middle of discovery can be so burdensome (or could violate certain important privileges, like the ones against disclosing medical records or attorney-client conversations) that they are allowed to be appealed. These are called “interlocutory appeals.”
Original creditor: The person or company that actually provided goods or services in exchange for a promise to pay (debt). The legal opposite of original creditor in debt collection cases is “debt collector.”
Out of Time: This is another way of saying “late.” When you want to file something late, you seek leave to file “out of time.”
Overrule: this is a ruling where the judge decides to allow a party to show evidence that the other side objected to. The court “overrules” the objection.