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Parent Infant Trauma Syndrome (P.I.T.S.) - See Battered Child Syndrome  

parole - A procedure in which a parole board releases a convict on good behavior before the maximum sentence expires.  

parol evidence - Oral or verbal evidence (rather than written). The parol evidence rule limits the admissibility of parol evidence which would directly contradict the clear meaning of terms of a written contract.  

parties - The persons who are actively involved in the prosecution or defense of a legal proceeding, including the plaintiff or prosecution, the defendant and any "third party defendant".  

peremptory challenge - Each party to a suit tried to a jury has the right to peremptorily "challenge" (reject) a certain number of prospective jurors without giving a reason. By contrast, the parties have unlimited rights to challenge jurors for good cause, but the judge must approve "for cause challenges." Parties may not exercise peremptory challenges on the basis of race or gender.  

perjury - Lying while under oath.  

petition - A civil pleading filed to initiate a matter in Juvenile Court, setting forth the alleged grounds for the court to take jurisdiction of the case and asking the court to do so and intervene.  

petit jury - The ordinary jury of twelve (or fewer) persons for the trial of a civil or criminal case. So called to distinguish it from the grand jury.  

plaintiff - A person who files a lawsuit.  

plea - The defendant's formal response to a criminal charge (guilty, not guilty, nolo contendere, not guilty by reason of insanity, and guilty and mentally ill).  

plea bargaining - A process whereby the prosecutor and defense attorney negotiate a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case. The court and the defendant must approve of any settlements. For example, a guilty plea may be exchanged for a lesser charge or a sentencing recommendation, or for dismissal of one or more of the charges in a multi-count information, or for dismissal of another case.  

pleading - The formal allegations by the parties of their respective claims and defenses.  

polling the jury - A practice whereby the jurors are asked individually on the record whether they agreed, and still agree, to the verdict.  

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