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
oath
An attestation that one will tell the truth, or a promise to fulfill a pledge, often calling upon God as a witness. The best known oath is probably the witness’ pledge “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” during a legal proceeding. In another context, a public official usually takes an “oath of office” before assuming her position, in which she declares that she will faithfully perform her duties.
oath of office
See oath.
obiter dictum
See dictum.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
The primary federal law establishing safety standards in the workplace. Generally, OSHA requires employers to provide a safe workplace by informing employees about potential hazards, training them to deal with hazards and recording workplace injuries.
offensive collateral estoppel
A doctrine that prevents a defendant from re-litigating an issue after it has been lost. For example, if your neighbor sues you for putting up a fence on his land and the court rules that your fence extends beyond your property line, you can't later file your own lawsuit seeking a declaration that the property line is incorrectly drawn.
offer
A proposal to enter into an agreement with another person. An offer must express the intent of the person making the offer to form a contract, must contain some essential terms--including the price and subject matter of the contract--and must be communicated by the person making the offer. A legally valid acceptance of the offer will create a binding contract.
offer of proof
At trial, a party’s explanation to a judge as to how a proposed line of questioning, or a certain item of physical evidence, would be relevant to its case and admissible under the rules of evidence. Offers of proof arise when a party begins a line of questioning that the other side objects to as calling for irrelevant or inadmissible information. If the judge thinks that the questions might lead to proper evidence, the judge will stop the trial, ask the parties to “approach the bench,” and give the questioner a chance to show how, if allowed, the expected answers will be both relevant and admissible. This explanation is usually presented out of the jury’s hearing, but it does become part of the trial record. If the matter is later heard on appeal, the appellate court will use the record to decide whether the judge’s ruling was correct.
officer
A person elected by a profit or nonprofit corporation's board of directors, or by the manager of a limited liability company, to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. Officers generally hold titles such as President or Treasurer. Many states and most corporate bylaws or LLC operating agreements require a corporation or LLC to have a president, secretary and treasurer. Election of a vice president may be required by state law.
offset
See setoff.
Older Workers Benefit Protection Act
A federal law that makes it illegal for an employer to use an employee's age to discriminate in benefits or for a company to target older workers for layoffs. This law also requires employers to allow employees at least 21 days to consider waivers not to sue offered by an employer in exchange for early retirement benefits.
one-year rule
The rule that requires a patent application to be filed within one year of the following: any public use of the invention by the inventor, a sale of the invention, an offer to sell the invention, or any description of the invention by the inventor in a published document. Failure to file a patent application within this one-year period results in the invention's passing into the public domain, where it is no longer eligible for a patent.
open adoption
An adoption in which there is some degree of contact between the birthparents and the adoptive parents and sometimes with the child as well. As opposed to most adoptions in which birth and adoption records are sealed by court order, open adoptions allow the parties to decide how much contact the adoptive family and the birthparents will have.
opening statement
A statement made by an attorney or self-represented party at the beginning of a trial before evidence is introduced. The opening statement outlines the party's legal position and previews the evidence that will be introduced later. The purpose of an opening statement is to familiarize the jury with what it will hear--and why it will hear it--not to present an argument as to why the speaker's side should win; that comes after all evidence is presented as part of the closing argument.
OR
See own recognizance.
order
A decision issued by a court. It can be a simple command--for example, ordering a recalcitrant witness to answer a proper question--or it can be a complicated and reasoned decision made after a hearing, directing that a party either do or refrain from some act. For example, following a hearing, the court may order that evidence gathered by the police not be introduced at trial; or a judge may issue a temporary restraining order. This term usually does not describe the final decision in a case, which most often is called a judgment.