A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
substitution of parties
A replacement of one of the sides in a lawsuit because of events that prevent the party from continuing with the trial. For example, substitution of parties may occur when one party dies or, in the case of a public official, when that public official is removed from office.
succession
The passing of property or legal rights after death. The word commonly refers to the distribution of property under a state’s intestate succession laws, which determine who inherits property when someone dies without a valid will. When used in connection with real estate, the word refers to the passing of property by will or inheritance, as opposed to gift, grant, or purchase.
successor trustee
The person or institution who takes over the management of trust property when the original trustee has died or become incapacitated.
sui generis
Latin for "of its own kind," used to describe something that is unique or different.
summary adjudication of issues
A partial summary judgment motion, in which the judge is asked to decide only one or some of the legal issues in the case. For example, in a car accident case there might be overwhelming and uncontradicted evidence of the defendant's carelessness, but conflicting evidence as to the extent of the plaintiff's injuries. The plaintiff might ask for summary adjudication on the issue of carelessness, but go to trial on the question of injuries.
summary judgment
A final decision by a judge that resolves a lawsuit in favor of one of the parties. A motion for summary judgment is made after discovery is completed but before the case goes to trial. The party making the motion marshals all the evidence in its favor, compares it to the other side's evidence, and argues that a reasonable jury looking at the same evidence could only decide the case one way--for the moving party. If the judge agrees, then a trial would be unnecessary and the judge enters judgment for the moving party.
summary probate
A relatively simple probate proceeding available for "small estates," as that term is defined by state law. Every state's definition is different, and many are complicated, but a few examples include estates worth up to $100,000 in California; New York estates where property, excluding real estate and amounts that must be set aside for surviving family members, is worth $20,000 or less; and Texas estates where the value of property doesn't exceed what is needed to pay a family allowance and certain creditors.
summons
A paper prepared by the plaintiff and issued by a court that informs the defendant that she has been sued. The summons requires that the defendant file a response with the court -- or in many small claims courts, simply appear in person on an appointed day -- within a given time period or risk losing the case under the terms of a default judgment.
sunset law
A law that automatically terminates the agency or program it establishes unless it is expressly renewed. For example, a state law establishing and funding a new drug rehabilitation program within state prisons may provide that the program will shut down in two years unless it is reviewed and approved by the state legislature.
sunshine laws
Statutes that provide public access to governmental agency meetings and records.
superior court
The main county trial court in many states, mostly in the west. See state court.
Supplemental Register
The list on which non-distinctive trademarks or service marks are placed if federal registration has been sought. Descriptive marks, surnames and marks consisting primarily of geographical terms are usually placed on this register, which offers limited protection for marks.
Supremacy clause
Provision under Article IV, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, providing that federal law is superior to and overrides state law when they conflict.
Supreme Court
America's highest court, which has the final power to decide cases involving the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, certain legal areas set forth in the Constitution (called federal questions) and federal laws. It can also make final decisions in certain lawsuits between parties in different states. The U.S. Supreme Court has nine justices -- one of whom is the Chief Justice -- who are appointed for life by the President and must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Most states also have a supreme court, which is the final arbiter of the state's constitution and state laws. However, in several states -- most notably New York and Maryland, where it's called the "Court of Appeals," and Massachusetts, where it's called the "Supreme Judicial Court" -- the highest state court uses a different name.
surrender value
See avails.