legal education and writing

Restatement of the Law

A series of legal treatises that set out basic U.S. law on a variety of subjects, written and updated by legal scholars and published by the American Law Institutes. While not having the force of statutes or court rulings, the Restatements (as lawyers generally call them) are prestigious and can carry some weight in a legal argument. Topics covered include agency, contracts, property, torts, trusts, and more.

strict construction

Interpreting a legal provision (usually a constitutional protection) narrowly. Strict constructionists often look only at the literal meaning of the words in question, or at their historical meaning at the time the law was written. Also referred to as "strict interpretation" or "original intent," because a person who follows the doctrine of strict construction of the Constitution tries to ascertain the intent of the framers at the time the document was written by considering what the language they used meant at that time.

provocation

The act of inciting another person to do a particular thing. In a fault divorce, provocation may constitute a defense to the divorce, preventing it from going through. For example, if a wife suing for divorce claims that her husband abandoned her, the husband might defend the suit on the grounds that she provoked the abandonment by driving him out of the house. In criminal law, provocation can be a defense that justifies an acquittal, mitigated sentence, or reduction of conviction to a lesser charge (for instance, from murder to manslaughter).

pro rata

(proh-rat-ah or proh-ray-tah) From Latin for "in proportion," refers to a share to be received or an amount to be paid based on the fractional share of ownership, responsibility, or time used. For example, a buyer of rental property will pay his or her pro rata share of the property taxes for that portion of the year in which he or she holds title.

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