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Legalese From A to Z: 5 Legal Terms Beginning With 'R'

Legalese From A to Z - FindLaw

Res judicata. Reciprocal negative easement. Rule against perpetuities. What do these terms have in common, beyond being words you most likely haven't heard in casual conversation lately? They're are all examples of legalese, the specialized language of law used by lawyers, judges and those in the legal field.

Each week, as part of our continuing series Legalese From A to Z, we work through some of the important bits of legalese, letter by letter. In this week's Legalese from A to Z , we take on five (more) legal terms that start with the letter "R":

  • Rape shield law. A rape shield law prevents or limits the use of an alleged rape victim's prior sexual history as evidence during a trial. For example, Nevada's rape shield law prohibits the introduction of "previous sexual conduct of the victim of the crime to challenge the victim's credibility as a witness" in a criminal sexual assault or statutory rape trial, unless the victim opens the door by testifying about her sexual conduct first.
  • Reasonable accommodation. Federal employment law requires that an employer make reasonable accommodations for an employee's disability or religion in the workplace. Unless providing an accommodation would present an "undue hardship," an employer must generally honor an employee's request for an accommodation required by his or her disability or religious beliefs.
  • Res ipsa loquitur. Translated from Latin, res ipsa loquitur means "the thing speaks for itself." In personal injury and other tort cases, res ipsa loquitur allows a plaintiff to establish a defendant's negligence using circumstantial evidence rather than having to prove that the defendant's actions were in fact negligent. Res ipsa loquitur is typically used in cases where events would not normally occur in the absence of negligence, such as botched surgeries.
  • Respondeat superior. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer may be held liable for the negligent actions of an employee. Generally, any time an employee is acting within the course of his employment, his negligence will be imputed to his employer, even when the employer otherwise played no role in the harm.
  • Robbery. Although robbery has entered the common lexicon, many people use the term robbery to incorrectly describe a burglary or other theft crime. Legally, a robbery requires the use of physical force or fear to deprive a person of her property. Without the use of force or fear, stealing something from someone else is typically considered a theft or a larceny, or, in cases where the items are stolen from a home, a burglary.

If you need help with defining a legal word or phrase, check out FindLaw's Legal Dictionary for free access to more than 8,000 definitions of legal terms. In next week's Legalese From A to Z, we'll check out five more legal terms you may not know, beginning with the letter "S."

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