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Legal Terms that Start with "F"
- A fact is an established truth, something that is evident, clearly seen, indisputable, beyond doubt. This term is widely misused by lawyers today, perhaps because some lawyers are more intent on winning their cases than sticking closely to the truth. Facts are facts ... not guesses, hunches, beliefs, opinions, inferences, or suppositions. It may be a fact that someone has an opinion, for example, but the opinion itself is only an opinion, not a fact ... regardless of the education or stature of the person who holds the opinion. Facts exist. Facts are real. Facts are not fanciful constructions of the mind. Facts are facts. Like Jack Webb used to say as Joe Friday on the "Dragnet" TV series, "We just want the facts, ma’am." Today’s courts are perhaps too inundated by outrageous performances by which lawyers seek to lead juries to believe hypotheses based solely on opinions, circumstances, or unsupported legal rhetoric and courtroom drama. Facts should be the bedrock of American justice. Facts and facts alone.
- That which is not true. That which is false should never be admitted as evidence. A false statement intentionally made by a witness under oath constitutes perjury, a felony crime in most jurisdictions, punishable by imprisonment. Perjury in courts martial during time of war may be punishable by death. Finding the falseness in your opponent’s case and putting it on the public record as admissible evidence is the key to winning lawsuits. Justice has so ordered the universe that the false often creates its own defeat, i.e., the party whose case is a mere fabrication is usually found out. Cross-examination is a tool that easily discovers the false and vindicates the true.
- Any statement containing an allegation that is false. If only one small part of the statement contains a false allegation then, even if the false part is insignificant and the rest of the statement is true as true can be, just courts are required to treat the statement as false. Falsehoods in a statement are like weak links in an otherwise strong chain. It matters not at all how strong the other links may be, if one of the links is a lie then the chain is worthless and cannot be relied upon in court. Just as a chain can be no stronger than its weakest link, a statement can be no more true than the lie that lurks within it.
- Fee Simple
- Same as fee simple absolute.
- Fee Simple Absolute
- This is the most complete form of title to real property (land) an individual can hold. Ownership in fee simple absolute is complete ownership ... well, as complete as complete gets in this lifetime (since the Sovereign ultimately "owns" all land, and individuals only temporarily hold "title"). The fee includes all that’s on the surface within property boundaries, all that’s below the surface to the very center of Earth, and all that’s above the surface upward to the infinite reaches of the universe. Other forms of ownership include life estates, tenants in common, joint tenancies, and conditional tenancies. Fee title (like all other title held by individuals) is always subject to rights of the sovereign that owns paramount title and can, for example, dispossess even fee simple title holders if taxes are not paid.)
- Fees, i.e., attorneys’ fees, are a critical factor to be carefully considered when deciding whether to sue or not to sue in civil courts. In most American jurisdictions, the prevailing party is awarded his costs but is not entitled to recover the expense of paying his lawyers. There are exceptions, and these vary from state to state, however in most cases both litigants must bear the financial burden of paying their lawyers. Unless the amount sought by the lawsuit is quite large, therefore, it may be a foolish enterprise to sue if you are going to require the services of a lawyer. In Florida’s civil courts, an award of attorneys’ fees can be obtained by the prevailing party in only three circumstances: (1) the issue is one pertaining to the terms of a contract, and the contract contains a clause providing an award of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party, (2) the issue is one controlled by some statute or other public law that provides for an award of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party, or (3) the court determines at the conclusion of the litigation that there never was any genuine issue of material fact or law, i.e., that the case was "open and shut" with no reasonable chance for the loser to win. Unless the facts and law in your case are so clear-cut that there is no "genuine issue" to put before the judge, or unless a contract exists that entitles the winner to recover his lawyers’ fees, or unless the issues in the lawsuit arise from some law that provides for the winner to recover his attorneys’ fees (as in Florida’s residential but not commercial landlord-tenant disputes), you cannot make the other side pay you for fees your lawyers charge. In most jurisdictions the winner is permitted to recover his costs, e.g., filing fees, court reporter’s fees, costs of deposition and hearing transcripts, and such like) but not fees paid to lawyers. If you sue on a contract make sure there’s an attorneys’ fee provision in the contract. If you sue for breach of some public law or statute, check for attorneys’ fees provisions in the law. If you sue on some other issue and are absolutely certain you can make your case "open and shut", i.e., without the slightest scintilla of any genuine issue of material fact or law, make certain your jurisdiction provides for an award of attorneys’ fees before proceeding. The amount attorneys charge sometimes exceeds what a lawsuit is worth. Beware of this pitfall that awaits the uninformed litigant.
- Breach of public duty authorizing incarceration by force or other loss of civil rights as punishment for crime. Crime punishable by imprisonment, other restraint, or forfeiture of rights. See misdemeanor.
- This term comes from the root for "faith". A fiduciary relationship, for example, is one based on faith - e.g., a trustee or guardian in whom in entrusted a responsibility to act faithfully with regard to the property of others. Such a person is often called, simply, a fiduciary. When one occupies a fiduciary position, the law holds that person to a high standard of responsibility ... the breach of which can result in heavy penalties.
- Finder of Fact
- In a non-jury trial, the judge is said to be the finder of fact, ruling upon what is true and what is not. In a jury trial, the jury is the finder of fact, ruling upon what is true and what is not ... while the judge rules on the application of law to the facts that are found by the jury to be true. The judge always rules on the application of laws to fact. The finder of fact decides only the verity of evidence presented.
- To terminate rights in a matter. Most cases before the courts result in judicial decisions that grant one party certain rights and remedies, while foreclosing the rights and remedies of the other party, i.e., terminating the further claims of the losing party in favor of the winner. At the conclusion of probate proceedings, the rights of those entitled to an interest in the decedent’s estate are established, and the rights of all others are foreclosed, i.e., judicially terminated. See foreclosure.
- Any judicial proceeding instigated to foreclose the rights of defendant parties to the action. Most actions for foreclosure involve defaulted promissory notes and mortgages, the aim of the lawsuit being to foreclose the rights of a mortgagor (usually a homeowner) in favor of a mortgagee (usually a bank). When the foreclosure action is concluded, the rights of the mortgagor are forever terminated, i.e., the rights of the mortgagor are foreclosed.
- Fraud is deceit in practice. To be actionable it must be intentional. Most fraud actions are brought to recover damages from a party who misleads another in order to gain some advantage or deprive the other of one or more rights. When pleading fraud, one must be very specific in spelling out the facts of what took place, how it was intentional, how it caused the plaintiff injury, and how the falsehood or intentional mis-statement of facts was used by the defendant to cause the injury.