Denver County Court

Civil Common Terms


ANSWER:  Document filed by the defendant to respond to the allegations in the complaint and to state any claims against the plaintiff.

APPELLANT:  The party who appeals a lower court’s decision.

APPELLEE:  The party whom an appeal is taken against, and whose role is to respond to the appeal.

COMPLAINT:  The document that officially starts a civil action and states the basis for the plaintiff’s claim and demand for relief.

COUNTERCLAIM:  A complaint filed by the defendant, typically as part of the answer, against the plaintiff.

COURT DATE/HEARING OR TRAIL:  The date the plaintiff and defendant must appear in Court.

DEFAULT:  If the defendant does NOT appear at the time of the hearing or file an answer, the Court may enter “default” or “failure to appear/answer” which entitles the plaintiff to all relief asked for in the complaint (i.e. money, possession of property, etc.).

DEFENDANT:  The person(s), company or other entity that the case is filed against.

EXEMPLIFIED:  Copy of a court document with court seals from the out-of-state Court verifying the authenticity of the document.

FOREIGN JUDGMENT:  Any judgment, decree, or Order of a court of the United States or of any other courts; except a protection order as described in §13-14-110, C.R.S., that is entitled to full faith and credit in Colorado.

GARNISHEE:  The person(s) or company a garnishment is being served upon.

GARNISHMENT:  The procedure in which a creditor asks the Court to order a third party (garnishee) to turn over any of the debtor’s property, such as wages or bank accounts.

INTERROGATORIES:  A written set of questions, served on the judgment debtor.

JUDGMENT:  The Court’s final determination of the rights and obligations of the parties in a case.

JUDGMENT CREDITOR:  The person(s), company or other entity who has a legal right to enforce execution of a judgment entered by the Court.

JUDGMENT DEBTOR:  The person(s), company or other entity whom judgment has entered against.

MAY:  In legal terms, “may” is defined as “optional” or “can.”

MEDIATION:  A confidential, informal process in which a trained neutral third party helps people in conflict to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement.

MOTION:  A written or oral request a party makes to the Court for a specified ruling or order.

PETITION:  Document that officially commences a request or Motion before the Court, such a Petition for a Change of Name, Petition to obtain a Protection Order, and certain other civil matters.

PETITIONER:  The person filing a request or Motion with the Court, such as a Petition for Change of Name , a Petition to obtain a Protection Order, and certain other civil matters.

PLAINTIFF:  The person(s), company or other entity who filed the lawsuit.

PUBLIC NOTICE:  Document which is submitted to the local newspaper (that must meet the qualifications of a legal publication) to publish notice of a requested name change.

REGISTERED AGENT:  A person authorized to accept Service of Process for a corporation.

RESPONDENT:  The person that the Complaint/Motion is filed against.

RETURN DATE:  The date listed on the Summons by which the defendant must file an Answer and / or appear in Court.

SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT:  The document stating the judgment debtor has satisfied the judgment (i.e. paid the moneys owed in full, etc.).

SERVICE OF PROCESS:  The official means by which the defendant is notified that a lawsuit has been filed against him/her.

SHALL:  In legal terms, “shall” is defined as “required”.

SUMMONS:  Document telling the defendant when and where to appear and possibly other requirements the defendant must perform.

TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT:  A document that states the name of the judgment debtor, judgment creditor and the date and amount of the judgment.

WRIT OF ASSISTANCE:  Document directing the Sheriff to take possession of personal property.

WRIT OF RESTITUTION:  An Order issued by the Court authorizing the Sheriff to physically remove (evict) the defendant from real property (i.e. home, apartment, etc.).

TRIAL/COURT:  In civil cases a Court Trial is the trial of a lawsuit before a judicial officer who functions as both the finder of fact as well as addressing legal issues (conclusions of law).   After hearing the case, the judicial officer will enter an Order regarding the finding of fact, the conclusions of law and the final judgment (outcome) for the case.

TRIAL/JURY:  In civil cases a Jury Trial is the trial of a lawsuit before both a judicial officer and a jury selected by the parties to the case.   In Colorado, civil juries consist of six (6) individuals unless the parties agree to a smaller number of jurors; however, the number of jurors cannot be less than three (3).   In Jury Trials, the judicial officer addresses legal issues that arise during the case (conclusions of law) and the jury acts as the finder of fact.  It is the jury that will enter the final judgment (outcome) for the case.