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guardian - A guardian has the authority to consent, on behalf of an infant, child or incompetent, to marriage, enlistment in the armed forces, or major medical, surgical, or psychiatric treatment. Includes legal custody.   


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habeas corpus - Latin phrase meaning "you have the body"; A civil proceeding used to review the legality of a prisoner's confinement in criminal cases. Habeas corpus actions are commonly used as a means of reviewing state or federal criminal convictions. The petitioner alleges the convictions violated state or federal constitutional rights. State habeas proceedings start in state District Court; federal habeas proceedings start in federal District Court. Lower court decisions may be appealed to appellate courts.  

harmless error - An error committed by a lower court during a trial, but not prejudicial to the rights of the party and for which the appellate court will not reverse the judgment.  

hearing - A formal proceeding (generally less formal than a trial) with definite issues of law or of fact to be heard.  

hearing de novo - A full new hearing.  

hearsay - Second-hand evidence, generally consisting of a witness's testimony that he/she heard someone else say something.  

holographic will - A will entirely written, dated and signed by the testator in his/her own handwriting.  

hostile witness - A witness who displays antagonism toward the party who called him to testify, or who is a witness for the opposing party. The examining party is allowed to conduct direct examination as if it were cross-examination.  

hung jury - A jury which cannot agree on a final verdict. If a jury is hung, the court declares a mistrial and the case may be re-tried.  

hypothetical question - A form of question generally used for expert witnesses. The examiner states a factual foundation (often based on disputed facts) and asks the expert to draw conclusions based on the hypothetical foundation. The hypothetical question includes only facts already in evidence.   



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