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Legal Phrases & Sentences | Latin

actio in personam

"action against a person"

ad hominem

"to the man" (Appealing to a person's interests or prejudices rather than to reason)

ad litem

"for the suit/action"

amicus curiae

"friend of the court"

bona fide

"in good faith"

de jure

"according to law / by right"

Dura lex, sed lex.

"The law is hard, but it is the law."

ex curia

"out of court"

ex lege

"arising from the law; as a matter of law"

habeas corpus

"You shall have the body. / (I command that) you have the body." (A judge's order to bring a person before the court to see whether he is justly imprisoned.)

Hoc indictum volo.

"I wish this to be unsaid. (I withdraw the statement.)"

Ignorantia legis
neminem excusat.

"Ignorance of the law excuses no one."

in camera

"in chamber / in secret / closed session"

in facie curiae

"in the face/presence of the court"

in personem

"against a/the person"

ipso facto

"by the fact itself / by that very fact"

lex scripta

"written law"

mala fide

"in/with bad faith / treacherously"

mala in se

"bad/evil in itself"

ne bis in idem

"A person may not be punished twice for the same thing."

ne exeat

"Let him not go out from the jurisdiction of the court"


"do not touch me" (A warning against touching)

nolle prosequi

"I do not wish to pursue" (A prosecutor is dropping all or part of an indictment.)

nolo contendere

"I do not wish to contend." (A guilty plea, leaving open the option of denying alleged facts in later proceedings)

non compos mentis

"not having control of the mind" (Not legally responsible)

nunc pro tunc

"now for then" (Indicates action in the present that should have been taken before)

per se

"in/by itself"

prima facie

"on first appearance / at first sight"

pro forma

"as a matter of form / according to form"

pro tempore

"for the time / temporarily"

res gestae

"things done / deeds / facts of a case that are admissible as evidence"

sine die

"without a day (set for reconvening) / indefinitely"

sine qua non

"without which not / an essential element or condition"

status quo

"manner in which / condition / legal condition of a person or thing"

sub judice

"before the judge/court / under judicial consideration"

sui juris

"of one's own right" (Capable of managing one's own affairs)

Collected by Edith E. Smith, M.A.