Any written document in which the signer swears under oath or penalty of perjury that the statements in the document are true.

Background Check

The act of reviewing confidential and public information to investigate a person or entity’s criminal and civil case history. Background checks are commonly performed by employers to ensure: (1) an employee is who he or she says they are, (2) to determine that the individual does not have a damaging history (such as criminal activity) that may reflect poorly on the company, (3) to confirm information that an applicant included on their application for employment.

Case Number

A unique number the court will issue you that will be used throughout your case. Anything that you or the respondent files into the case or that the court issues or rules on the case, will include this unique case number. If you want to submit witness statements, police reports, etc. you will need to reference your case number to ensure that it is all contained within and considered for your case.

Certified Copies

A copy of a document, signed and certified as a true copy by the Clerk’s Office who has custody of the original.

Civil Action

A lawsuit brought by one party or entity against another party or entity for any of a variety of reasons. For example, to enforce, redress, or protect rights of private litigants, etc. A civil case is not a criminal prosecution, but some civil suits may result in criminal sanctions if there are violations of its terms.


An official or employee who handles the official records of a court or a system of courts, maintains files of each case, and issues routine documents. Almost every county has a clerk of the courts or County Clerk who fulfills those functions.


In the governmental system of the U.S., this term refers to an officer who in charge of the administration of the laws relating to some particular subject matter, or the management of some bureau or agency of the government (i.e. education, patents, pensions, fisheries, general land office, Indian affairs, etc.). In King County, commissioners are judicial officers who have more limited jurisdiction than judges.


Acting in accordance with a request or a command, rule or instruction.

Court Order

An order signed by a Judicial Officer directing that something be done or that there is prohibition against some act. This can range from an order that a case will be heard on a certain date to specific restraints a litigant must abide by. Examples include Domestic Violence Protection Orders or Restraining Orders.


The ruling by a judge that all or a portion of the plaintiff’s lawsuit is terminated at that point without further evidence or testimony. This judgement may be made when the judge becomes convinced that the plaintiff cannot prove their case.

Due Process

A fundamental principle of fairness in all legal matters, both civil and criminal, especially in the courts. The term aims to safeguard both private and public rights against unfairness. The universal guarantee of due process is in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” and is applied to all states by the 14th Amendment.


Every type of proof legally presented at trial (allowed by the judge), which is intended to convince the judge and/or jury of alleged facts material to the case. It can include oral testimony of witnesses, including experts on technical matters, documents, public records, objects, photographs and depositions (testimony under oath taken before trial).

Ex parte

Meaning “for one party,” this term refers to motions, hearings or orders granted on the request of and for the benefit of one party only. This is an exception to the basic rule of court procedure that both parties must be present at any argument before a judge, and to the otherwise strict rule that an attorney may not notify a judge without previously notifying the opposition.

Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO)

A civil court order that prevents individuals at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms, Concealed Pistol Licenses, or ammunition. Family, household members, and police may petition for and obtain a court order when there is demonstrated evidence that a person poses a significant danger, including danger because of a behavioral health crisis or violent behavior.


Depositing a written complaint or petition with the clerk of the court as the opening step in a lawsuit, or sharing any subsequent documents, including an answer, demurrer, motions, petitions, and orders. All of these are placed in a case file with the case number.

Findings/Findings of Fact

The determination of a factual question contributing to a decision in a case by the judge or jury after a trial of a lawsuit. A finding of fact is different from a conclusion of law, which is determined by the judge as the sole legal expert. Findings of fact and conclusions of law don’t need to be made if waived or not requested by the trial attorneys, leaving just the bare judgment in the case.


A weapon that acts from a gunpowder explosion.


Any proceeding before a judge or other magistrate (such as a hearing officer or court commissioner) without a jury in to present evidence or an argument in order to determine some issue of fact and/or law. While a trial with a judge and no jury fits the definition, a hearing usually refers to brief sessions involving a specific question prior to the trial itself, or specialized proceedings as administrative hearings.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

A U.S. law designed to provide privacy standards to protect patients’ medical records and other health information provided to health plans, doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers. These standards provide patients with access to their medical records and more control over how their personal health information is used and disclosed. State laws providing additional protections to consumers are not affected by this new rule. HIPAA took effect on April 14, 2003.


An official with the authority and responsibility to preside in a court, try lawsuits and make legal rulings. The word “court” often refers to the judge, as in the phrase “the court found the defendant at fault,” or “may it please the court,” when addressing the judge. The word “bench” also refers to the judge or judges in general.


Referring to a judge, court, or the court system.

Judicial days

Days on which the court is actually in session.

Mental Health Evaluation

Mental evaluations are examinations of an individual’s mental state and capacity performed by a qualified expert.


A formal request made to a judge for an order or judgment. Motions are made in court to postpone a trial to a later date, to get a modification of an order, for temporary child support, for a judgment, for dismissal of the opposing party’s case, for a rehearing, for sanctions (payment of the moving party’s costs or attorney’s fees), or for dozens of other purposes. Most motions require a written petition, a written brief of legal reasons for granting the motion, written notice to the attorney for the opposing party, and a hearing before a judge. However, during a trial or a hearing, an oral motion may be permitted.


A formal written request to a court for an order of the court. A petition is similar to an application where a party informs the court of what they are seeking from the court and why. Any petition filed and order granted by a judge would need to be served on the responding party to the action.


The person who initiates an action with the court or who presents a petition to the court. Also known as the “moving party.”


Forbidding or restraining a specific act or activity, e.g. “the respondent is prohibited from going within 500 feet of the petitioner’s residence.” This means that it would be a violation of the terms of the order if the respondent willfully and knowingly engaged in the prohibited activity.

Protection order

Typically a type of “restraining order” that offers different types of protection to an individual by restraining or prohibiting another individual from engaging in that particular conduct. Often used in cases of spousal or partner abuse, stalking, or sexual assault cases, a protection order restricts the actions of the restrained party from harassing or approaching the other party.

Public Order

A register of the legal transactions, proceeding, rules and statutes, laws and regulations that is kept on file to be able to be referred to if needed and be accessible to and viewable by the public.


In practice, a forsaking, abandoning, renouncing, or giving over a right.


To annul or cancel a contract; particularly, nullifying a contract by the act of a party.


The person who is responding to a civil lawsuit, also referred to as the “non-moving” party. In the case of an Extreme Risk Protection Order, it is the person who is being ordered to relinquish their firearms and Concealed Pistol Licenses because of an allegation that they are a danger to themselves or others.

Return Hearing/Full Hearing

The court day that both parties have been assigned to appear and argue their case. This is the respondent’s opportunity to argue against the petition that has been filed, if they are inclined. A Judicial Officer will listen to both sides to determine whether the petitioner has met their burden and will determine whether an order should be issued or not.

Sealed Document/Sealing Order

A court order that restricts access to or disclosure of any record or document filed in a proceeding.

Search Warrant

A written order by a judge which permits a law enforcement officer to search a specific place and identifies the persons (if known) and any articles intended to be seized (often specified by type, such as “weapons,” “drugs and drug paraphernalia,” “evidence of bodily harm”).


To personally give or deliver a legal document to another person as required by law.

Service by Mail

Once authorized to do so by a Judicial Officer, it is the mailing of legal pleadings to opposing attorneys or parties, while filing the original with the court clerk with confirmation of to whom and where it was sent. Once a party has responded by filing an answer, subsequent pleadings (except orders to show cause and orders of examination) can be served upon his/her/its attorney by mail.

Service of Process

The delivery of copies of legal documents such as summons, complaint, subpoena, order to show cause (order to appear and argue against a proposed order), writs, notice to quit the premises, etc., by personal delivery to the defendant or to whomever the documents are directed.

Standards of Evidence

Proof level needed in a case established by assessing all evidence. Classified as: lowest level, intermediate level, and highest levels of proof.


A written law passed by a legislature on the state or federal level.


To turn over possession of real property, either voluntarily or upon demand.


Cessation; conclusion; end in time or existence.

Working Copies

An extra and identical copy of any documents a party is filing with the court and provided to the other party for the courts consideration. “Working copies” are turned in to the Judge prior to the scheduled hearing. The Judge or Commissioner will use these extra copies to prepare for the hearing and possibly “markup” for your case without damaging the original copies in the official court file.

Need step-by-step instructions?
See How it Works

Still have questions?
View the FAQ