SLAPP suit
A Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, in which a corporation or developer sues an organization in an attempt to scare it into dropping protests against a corporate initiative. SLAPP suits typically involve the environment--for example, local residents who are petitioning to change zoning laws to prevent a real estate development might be sued in a SLAPP suit for interference with the developer's business interests. Many states have "anti-SLAPP suit" statutes that protect citizens' rights to free speech and to petition the government.
small claims court
A state court that resolves disputes involving relatively small amounts of money -- usually between $2,000 and $10,000, depending on the state. Adversaries usually appear without lawyers -- in fact, some states forbid lawyers in small claims court -- and recount their side of the dispute in plain English. Evidence, including the testimony of eye witnesses and expert witnesses, is relatively easy to present because small claims courts do not follow the formal rules of evidence that govern regular trial cases. A small claims judgment has the same force as does the judgment of any other state court, meaning that if the loser -- now called the "judgment debtor" -- fails to pay the judgment voluntarily, it can be collected using normal collection techniques, such as property liens and wage garnishments.
small entity
According to the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), a for-profit company with 500 or fewer employees, a nonprofit organization or an independent inventor. The PTO charges small entities half the fees charged large entities for filing a patent application and for issuing and maintaining the patent.
Social Security
& Retirement Changing Your Name Parenting & Adoption Marriage & Living Together Divorce & Child Custody Health Care & Elder Care Immigration & Green CardsRenters’ Rights Employee Rights Consumer Rights Go to Court or Mediate Personal Injury Criminal Law Traffic TicketshomeGLOSSARY Social Security The general term that describes a number of related programs, including retirement, disability, dependents and survivors benefits. These programs provide workers and their families with some monthly income when their normal flow of income shrinks because of retirement, disability, or death.
sole custody
An arrangement whereby only one parent has physical and legal custody of a child and the other parent has visitation rights.
sole proprietorship
A business owned and managed by one person (or for tax purposes, a husband and wife). For IRS purposes, a sole proprietor and her business are one tax entity, meaning that business profits are reported and taxed on the owner's personal tax return. Setting up a sole proprietorship is cheap and easy since no legal formation documents need be filed with any governmental agency (although tax registration and other permit and license requirements may still apply). Once you file a fictitious name statement (assuming you don't use your own name) and obtain any required basic tax permits and business licenses, you'll be in business. The main downside of a sole proprietorship is that its owner is personally liable for all business debts.
sound mind
A requirement for anyone making a legal document, such as a will or healthcare directive. For example, although he can be eccentric or forgetful, a person writing a will must know what he owns, the identities of his family and close friends, and how the will distributes his property. If a person isn't of sound mind, and someone later challenges the validity of the document in a lawsuit, the judge could rule that the document is invalid and has no legal effect. (Such lawsuits are quite rare.)
sound recording copyright
A right in a work resulting from the fixation of a series of musical or other sounds (including narration or spoken words). A sound recording copyright protects the way that the composition is performed. The performer, producer, or recording company usually claims copyright in a sound recording.
Internet slang for unsolicited bulk email, primarily unsolicited commercial email (UCE). Spam has been linked with fraudulent business schemes, chain letters, and offensive sexual and political messages.
special administrator
(1) In the law of wills and estates, a person appointed by the court to take charge of only a designated portion of an estate during probate. For example, a special administrator with particular expertise on art might be appointed to oversee the probate of a wealthy person's art collection, but not the entire estate. (2) A person appointed to be responsible for a deceased person's property for a limited time or during an emergency, such as a challenge to the will or to the qualifications of the named executor. In such cases, the special administrator's duty is to maintain and preserve the estate, not necessarily to take control of the probate process
special damages
See damages.
special power of attorney
See power of attorney.
See damages.
specific bequest
A specific item of property that is left to a named beneficiary under a will. If the person who made the will no longer owns the property when he dies, the bequest fails. In other words, the beneficiary cannot substitute a similar item in the estate. Example: If John leaves his 1954 Mercedes to Patti, and when John dies the 1954 Mercedes is long gone, Patti doesn't receive John's current car or the cash equivalent of the Mercedes. See ademption.
specific intent
An intent to produce the precise consequences of the crime, including the intent to do the physical act that causes the consequences. For example, the crime of larceny is the taking of the personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the other person of the property. A person is not guilty of larceny just because he took someone else's property; it must be proven that he took it with the purpose of keeping it permanently.