Glossary for all Courts
AFFIDAVIT A notarized statement attesting to or denying an
alleged fact. Usually sworn out in front of a Justice of the Peace or notary
public by either the victim/prosecutor or a witness. The affidavit is often a
preliminary document that results in the issuing of a warrant.
BOND A monetary security posted by
the defendant, which guarantees his appearance in court every term until the
case has been resolved. In earlier times, the victim/prosecutor also had to
CERTIORARI A writ
issued by a higher court after a party's complaint that he has not received
justice in a lower court or cannot have an impartial trial. In most criminal
certiorari cases, an individual is appealing the decision of town council,
magistrate, or justice courts. These cases were misdemeanors, frequently
involving the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages or vending without a
agreement between a convicted defendant and an individual who agrees to pay the
defendant's court costs and fines. In return, the defendant agrees to work at a
specific place for a given amount of time. These contracts generally date after
CORONER'S INQUEST An
investigation to determine the cause of an individual's death. If criminal
activity is suspected, a search for clues and suspects is included. The inquest
is generally conducted by a panel of individuals who are sworn in to
investigate the death. The use of panel investigations continued even after the
appointment of a county coroner.
EVIDENCE Material that sheds light on a criminal case.
Evidence that is filed separately lacks a bill of indictment, but may have
other court documents filed with it.
EXTRADITION A writ seeking the removal of a prisoner from
one legal jurisdiction to another, usually between states.
FIFA A writ authorizing the sheriff to seize
and, if need be, sell a sufficient amount of the defendant's property to
fulfill the judgment awarded a plaintiff. The defendant's costs may have arisen
from a civil or criminal case. Criminal fifas are always issued by the
HABEAS CORPUS A
petition seeking the release of a person held in jail or other form of
imprisonment. The petition usually spells out why such detention is unjust or
why bail should be established if previously refused.
RULES and ORDERS An official court or attorney
decision, pleading, judgment or amendment entered in the minutes and records of
the court. Most criminal rules and orders consist of the verdict and
SCIFA A judicial
writ requiring that the defendant show cause why an execution should not be
taken against him. The scifa in criminal cases involves defaulting on a bond.
If a defendant fails to appear at court when summoned, a scifa is issued
ordering him to show good cause why the bond should not be revoked and
forfeited to the state.
A court order requiring an individual to personally appear in court to
testify or to bring in a certain item which will serve as evidence in a court
oral evidence a witness gives at a trial.
WARRANTS Issued by the legal authorities of the state,
city or county and based on the sworn statements of witnesses that probable
cause for arrest, seizure or search of an individual is necessary so that
justice may proceed. Types of warrants include bench, state, magistrate,
justice of the peace, and grand jury warrants. Most common are arrest warrants
and peace warrants wherein an individual posts a bond and promises to keep the
peace towards a certain person or persons. Search warrants are the least
WITNESS' EXCUSE A
notarized statement explaining a witness' absence from court and asking for
remittance of the penalty.
ACTION FOR RENT a suit on an overdue rent note which seeks to recover the debt plus interest. Usually filed as a "Complaint" or less frequently as "Debt" or "Assumpsit."
ACTION ON BOND an action to recover damages or losses stemming from a failure to fulfill bonded obligations, generally in terms of the administration of trusteeships, guardianships, receiverships or estates.
ACTION ON NOTE a suit to force payment of a debt, plus interest, arising from an unpaid promissory note. (See also Assumpsit, Complaint or Debt.)
ADMINISTRATION 1) a petition by an administrator to receive permission to sell, trade, convert or reinvest assets he is presiding over, whether they be monetary funds, real estate, or other forms of property. 2) An equity proceeding initiated by an interested party that seeks an accounting of the administrator's actions. These proceedings are also often components of bills for discovery or bills in equity.
ADOPTION an act whereby a child legally assumes the petitioner's name and is entitled to all the legal rights of a natural child, including the right to inherit the petitioner's estate.
AFFIDAVIT a notarized statement attesting to or denying an alleged fact. Between 1830 and 1860, affidavits were filed prior to the issuing of a declaration and often contained a bond statement or agreement. (See Bond #1.)
ALIAS DECLARATION a court order sanctioning the replacement of a lost declaration with a copy which has the same legal binding power as if it were the original declaration.
ALIAS EXECUTION a court order approving the replacement of a lost execution with a copy which has the same legal binding power of the original execution. Generally, alias executions concern misplaced fifas.
ALIMONY a petition asking for temporary or permanent financial support in cases of marital separation. This action is often filed in conjunction with divorce proceedings, but may be an independent suit. (See also Support and Maintenance.)
APPEAL encompasses all types of civil cases, but are most widely represented by assumpsits, attachments, complaints or debts. Regarding a lower court's decision as unjust, the petitioner seeks satisfaction through a jury trial in the Superior Court. Generally, the original lower court declaration is the one that is filed with the Superior Court records.
ARBITRATION an equity proceeding in which the contesting parties agree to abide by the decision of the court-approved arbitrators. Often the litigants each appoint one arbitator and the court names a neutral "tie-breaker" or else the court names the entire panel. Most often these cases entail estate or property divisions.
ASSAULT/ASSAULT AND BATTERY A civil suit seeking monetary compensation for a physical attack and resultant injuries or damages. (See also Trespass vi et armis.)
ASSUMPSIT an action to recover damages for breach of contract. Assumpsits sometimes include debts on contracts, notes, and mortgages. The term was most widely used prior to the Civil War. Assumpsits were later simply known as complaints.
ATTACHMENT an action in which the petitioner asks for the legal seizure of the defendant's money or property in order to have a debt or other obligation paid off.
BILLS IN EQUITY a broad range of civil suits in which the petitioner seeks clarification, redress, relief or injunction for actions not covered under other general suits. More than 60 different types of equity proceedings are included under this heading, e.g., Bill for Discovery, Bill for Relief, Bill to Construct Will, Bill for Injunction.
BOND 1) The security posted by either the plaintiff or defendant guaranteeing court appearance or payment of costs or awards resulting from the settlement or dismissal of a suit. 2) See Action on Bond.
CASA a writ issued after a civil judgment has been rendered in favor of the plaintiff, ordering the imprisonment of the defendant until the plaintiff's claim has been settled by payment or personal services by the defendant. CaSa were filed predominantly in the years prior to 1850.
CAVEAT the judicial contesting of the validity of a will, contract or other
CERTIORARI a writ issuing from a higher court upon the complaint of a party that he has not received justice in a lower court or cannot have an impartial trial. The records of the case are then called up for trial in the higher court.
CLAIM an action in which a third party professes to be the rightful owner of property upon which a court execution, generally a fifa, has been placed. Often used to legitimately block the court-ordered sale of levied property, but also used merely as a delaying tactic.
COMPLAINT a wide classification of suits that includes all types of debt cases, actions on promissory notes or mortgages, and occasionally damage suits for breach of contract.
COMPLAINT FOR LAND a suit in which the plaintiff seeks to recover or retain control over a disputed tract of land. These actions can entail the seeking of monetary compensation for revenues lost because of the illegal conversion of rent, timber or crops. (See also Ejectment, Eviction and Tenant Holding Over.)
COMPLAINT ON BOND See Action on Bond.
CONTEMPT a petition seeking a legal remedy against a defendant or guardian/administrator who has failed to comply with a court order in a civil action. The petitioner seeks to force compliance through an injunction, letter of administration or other legal order.
CONTRACT a notarized agreement in which all parties agree on terms of mutual performance, obligation or exchange.
COVENANT a suit that seeks compensation for losses stemming from the failure to fulfill contractual obligations.
CROSS BILL a counter suit that attempts to negate an equity or injunction proceeding.
DAMAGES an action arising from personal, property or financial loss /destruction in which the plaintiff seeks financial compensation. Damage suits often constitute part of a bill of injunction, especially in property cases.
DEBT a suit to recover the amount due on a promissory note or other financial agreement. (See also Assumpsit, Action on Note or Complaint.)
DEBT ON BOND see Action on Bond.
DEBTOR'S RELIEF a petition that seeks to release a debtor from his obligations and is usually issued in conjunction with a specific debt(s), fifa(s) or similar court orders.
DECEIT a suit seeking monetary compensation, contract invalidation, or other remedy to correct a wrong stemming from unfair practices or misrepresentation, i.e., a civil action of damages arising from an act of cheating or swindling.
DEEDS notarized documents transferring property or real estate from the owner to another party, usually for a monetary consideration or in exchange for an item of like value.
DISTRESS WARRANT an order to force a person to perform an obligation or to imprison him for failure to perform. A distress warrant might include seizing a particular item of property.
DISTRIBUTION a petition asking the court to order, enforce or oversee the payment of funds. 1) If multiple fifas are issued against a defendant, the court might issue an order of distribution delegating the sequence of payment. 2) A petitioner might request that an administrator be forced to pay out funds on a trust that he is withholding from his ward.
DIVORCE the judicial nullification of a marriage.
DOWER 1) the portion of a deceased husband's estate, usually one-third, which the law designates as the widow's share (tenant in dower). 2) The petition and action to have such an estate set aside for the widow whose husband has died intestate. A complete set of documents in a dower case include the petition for dower, the appointment of commissioners to survey, lay aside and partition the estate, the return of the commissioners which includes a surveyed plat of the entire property and the delineation of the dower, and the judge's order legalizing the the commissioners' decision.
EJECTMENT a suit attempting to remove an inhabitant from a certain tract of land or dwelling. These cases generally involve a controversy over an unclear title, disputed lease/rental agreement, or will. Ejectments can also pertain to the ouster of squatters. (See also Eviction and Tenant Holding Over.)
EVICTION the legal removal of a tenant or squatter from one's property. (See also Ejectment, Tenant Holding Over, Writ of Possession.)
EVIDENCE supportive materials, i.e., maps, charts, drawings, contracts, receipts etc., tendered in court cases in which the declaration has been lost. Other supporting documents, such as rules and orders, interrogatories and motions, are often filed with the evidence.
FIFA a writ authorizing the sheriff to seize and, if need be, sell a sufficient amount of the defendant's property to fulfill the judgment awarded a plaintiff in a civil suit.
GUARDIANSHIP the judicial appointment of an individual(s) who legally represents and protects the personal, property or financial interests of a minor, free black (pre-1865), female or incompetent person. Most guardianships are bonded.
HABEAS CORPUS a civil suit seeking the release and return of one's ward or minor child from the residence or control of another party. The three types of Habeas Corpus petitions found in Superior Court records are 1) a parent seeking to cancel the military enlistment of a son, 2) a guardian protesting the illegal removal of a ward, 3) a mother petitioning to have her son removed from a neighbor's farm where he lives without her permission.
HOMESTEAD Under the Georgia Constitution and Military Rule of Reconstruction (July 25, 1868), homestead is a process by which an individual's land or other property are granted certain tax benefits and protected against seizure so that a family retains sufficient staples to survive. The petition to the County Ordinary includes a listing of the family's property and a plat if real estate is included. Family members and their ages are also noted. The right to Homestead is often waived in mortgages or liens, especially crop liens.
ILLEGALITY a petition filed by a third party asserting that a plaintiff's action in a civil suit is proceeding against the defendant unjustly or that the property at hand belongs to the third party and not the defendant. The cases usually involved debt. (See also Claim.)
INTERROGATORIES written examinations of witnesses for either the plaintiff or defendant. The witnesses reside beyond the court's jurisdiction or otherwise cannot attend the court sessions. The examinations are executed by commissioners who seal and mail them to the court where the interrogatories are approved, read and entered as evidence.
LABORER'S LIEN an action whereby a workman who has not been paid for his services acts to recover his lost wages through a suit and attachment placed on his employer's property.
LEASE a notarized rental agreement between consenting parties defining specific terms and obligations for both parties.
LEGITIMATION the formal and legal admittance of one's parentage of a bastard.
LEVY the seizure of goods or property in order to fulfill the terms of a fifa or other court order.
LIBEL a suit seeking monetary compensation for public defamation of a person's character or reputation through a written, printed or pictorial statement.
LIEN a type of mortgage, loan or contract with goods or products as security. This is generally a crop lien whereby a farmer pledges as security his entire yearly crop in return for an advancement of supplies needed to make that crop. Liens are usually exempted from Homestead privileges.
LOST BOND/DEED/NOTE/WILL a court-approved copy of a destroyed or misplaced document which has the legal powers of the original.
MALICIOUS PROSECUTION a suit seeking financial compensation for false, illegal or unfounded harassment, arrest or questioning and the public shame arising therein. After the Civil War, this type of case was generally filed under "Damages".
MANDAMUS a court order directing an inferior court, corporation or officer to perform a specific task.
MECHANIC'S FIFA See Laborer's Lien.
MORTGAGE a contract or deed specifying the exchange of property, usually for a cash settlement. Civil mortgage cases may include a mortgage agreement, the petition to foreclose because of default, and the foreclosure notice and its resultant fifa. Some defaulted mortgages are sued out as Complaints or Assumpsits.
MORTGAGE CANCELLATION the recorded receipts attesting to the fulfillment of mortgage obligations and the release of the mortgage security.
MOTIONS pleadings and amendments from the plaintiff or defendant. Rules and orders, interrogatories and other documents were filed with the motion when the original declaration for the case could not be located during archival processing.
NAME CHANGE a petition to have one's name legally altered. NEW TRIAL a motion in which either the plaintiff or defendant demands a second hearing because the original trial was unjust. The motion often contains a detailed summary of the original trial. Rules and orders and interrogatories may be filed with the New Trial motion.
PARTITION an action in equity which seeks court guidance to divide, re-plat, or sell realty or personal property. Guardians, administrators or beneficiaries often initiated these suits. Actions involving land partitions usually contain detailed land plats.
PETITION a pleading from guardians or administrators requesting the court's permission to sell property.
PLAT a notarized document containing a sketch and written description portraying the exact dimensions of a specific tract of land. Cited are the location, notable landmarks and the date surveyed. Plats are most commonly found in civil cases in dowers, homesteads, actions in ejectment, and partitions.
PLEA an attorney's request for the court to rule on a specific action or demand. Pleas lack their original declaration, but other additional material may be included.
POSSESSORY WARRANT an action demanding the recovery of one's property because of breach of contract, or the failure to meet monetary obligations. This usually follows the termination of a lease. (See also Tenant Holding Over, Eviction, Ejectment.)
POWER OF ATTORNEY a document naming a person(s) to act as the legal representative of the appointer. This gives the attorney legal authority to act in the name of the appointer.
PROCEEEDINGS AGAINST TENANT See Eviction, Ejectment, Tenant Holding Over, Possessory Warrant.
RECEIVERSHIP an action whereby specific holdings are placed under the control of a court-appointed administrator whose function is to insure a true accounting of all assets and guarantee an equitable distribution of said property. Receivers are generally found in Bills in Equity involving bankruptcy or dissolved partnerships or in cases concerning the misappropriation of estates by previous administrators or guardians. Receiverships are usually bonded.
REFORM DEED a petition asking court permission to alter, correct or otherwise revise a legally registered deed.
RENT NOTE See Action for Rent.
RULES AND ORDERS an official court or attorney decision, pleading, judgment or amendment which is entered in the minutes and records of the court.
SCIFA a judicial writ requiring a party to come before the court to show cause why execution should not be taken against him or why letters of patent (charters, etc.) should not be revoked. The earliest cases in the Troup County records, land lottery frauds, are all Scifa writs. Scifas later concern defaulted bonds and executions and, still later, dealt with motions to revive judgments, i.e., the petitioner seeks to receive satisfaction on a long dormant execution (fifa) or one in which principle litigants died during the hearing of a case.
SLANDER a suit seeking monetary compensation for the public (verbal) defamation of a person's character or reputation.
SUBPOENA a court order requiring an individual to appear in court to testify
or to bring evidence.
SUIT ON ENDORSEMENT an action demanding damages or recovery from the securities on a bond. The bond can be on a mortgage, administration, attachment. (See also Action on Bond.)
SUMMONS a writ requiring an individual to appear in court.
SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE See Alimony.
TENANT HOLDING OVER See Eviction, Ejectment etc.
TESTIMONY transcribed oral evidence in cases where the declaration has been lost. The testimony may include supportive documentation such as rules and orders, pleadings and motions.
TITLE BOND a security in which the seller guarantees a clear title to the transferred property once the terms of the contract or mortgage are met.
TRESPASS a civil suit for damages. 1) Quar clausum fogit, the petitioner seeks compensation for damage done to his property. 2) vi et armis, the petitioner claims compensation for physical injuries caused by the defendant. (See also Assault and Battery.) 3) A suit asking to recover damages arising from an illegal ejectment.
TROVER/TROVER AND CONVERSION a legal action to recover the value of property illegally converted by another for his own use.
TRUSTEESHIP an action to appoint an administrator or guardian to regulate and oversee the estate or property of a minor, spouse, ward, or incompetent individual.
WASTE a suit seeking compensation for losses suffered due to a breach of contract.
WILL a notarized and witnessed final statement of how an individual wishes to dispose of his assets after his death.
WORDS a damage suit claiming monetary compensation for the public (written or verbal) defamation of one's character.
WRIT OF ERROR an attorney's petition citing mistakes in the legal process of a trial as the reasons for the granting of a new trial. This writ is filed separately only if the declaration has been lost and may include supportive documentation. The writ generally provides a short summary of the case.
ADJOURNMENT a court order postponing or ending a term.
AFFIDAVIT a notarized statement attesting to or denying an alleged fact.
APPOINTMENT the naming of a court official to a specific position.
BAILIFF'S COSTS The costs of the court official who maintains order.
BAR ADMISSION(S) may include the petition of a prospective attorney for permission to practice law, a request to the judge to appoint a committee to test the applicant in various fields of legal knowledge, affidavits from lawyers attesting to the character and ability of the applicant, the court's decision on the petition, and the applicant's oath of allegiance. Often more than one person would petition and the applicants would be tested and sworn simultaneously.
BOND the securities of county officials/officers and their oaths of allegiance. Bonds and oaths were also filed with the Court of Ordinary.
CLERK'S ORDERS a command from the court requesting the clerk to carry out a specific task.
CONSENT RULE the agreement among the county bar, usually formulated at the beginning of each court term, that establishes the order of pleading in civil matters. All agreeing lawyers sign the rule which is then filed in the court minutes.
COSTS a listing of the fees due court officials. Contains a case-by-case breakdown of both civil and criminal costs. Costs were usually paid from money generated from fines and forfeitures. Costs for several terms may be listed together. The judge had to approve payment.
INSOLVENT LIST an accounting of persons who are unable or unwilling to pay their court costs.
JUDGE'S ORDER a judge's decree.
JURORS this heading includes lists of Grand, Traverse and Petite jurors, juror pool lists, excuses for missing a court session, and fines and remittances on defaulting jurors. Also titled "Juror's Excuses" and "Juror's Excuses/Fines."
JURY COMMISSIONERS the court order appointing these officials.
MD REGISTRATION For several years beginning in 1881, all practicing physicians in Georgia had to be registered with their respective county. The sworn affidavits state residence and when and where medical training took place. A more comprehensive listing can be found in the Superior Court volume "The Register of Medical Practitioners, 1881-1917."
MISSING CASES the clerk's listing of cases in which the declaration and other material of a civil or criminal case has been lost, lent out or misplaced.
NOTARY PUBLIC applications and approvals for the appointments of notaries public. The documents were first filed in 1870.
OATH the oath of duty by a county official, filed without the bond.
RESOLUTION written and signed by the bar, the resolutions honor distinguished members of the legal and political sectors of Troup County. The resolutions were published in the local newspaper and entered in the minutes or records of the court. Also titled "Tributes."
ROAD COMMISSIONERS includes both the appointment of road commissioners and citations for failure to keep the roads in their district in passable condition.
RULES AND ORDERS official court notes detailing the business of day-to-day court proceedings.
SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS appointments of these county officials.
SHERIFF'S ORDERS court commands to the sheriff.
SOLICITOR GENERAL the appointment of the solicitor general, usually of a temporary nature.