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Legal Terms Glossary -H-


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Habeas corpus – The name of a writ having for its object to bring a person before a court.

Harmless error – An error committed during a trial that was corrected or was not serious enough to affect the outcome of a trial and therefore was not sufficiently harmful (prejudicial) to be reversed on appeal.

Headnote – A brief summary of a legal rule or significant facts in a case, which along with other headnotes, precedes the printed opinion in reports.

Hearing – A formal proceeding (generally less formal than a trial) with definite issues of law or of fact to be heard. Hearings are used extensively by legislative and administrative agencies.

Hearsay — Statements by a witness who did not see or hear the incident in question but heard about it from someone else. Hearsay is usually not admissible as evidence in court.

Hostile witness – A witness whose testimony is not favorable to the party who calls him or her as a witness. A hostile witness may be asked leading questions and may be cross-examined by the party who calls him or her to the stand.

Hung jury – A jury whose members cannot agree upon a verdict.

Hydroplaning – The term hydroplaning is commonly used to refer to the skidding or sliding of a cars tires across a wet surface. Hydroplaning occurs when a tire encounters more water than it can scatter. Water pressure in the front of the wheel pushes water under the tire, and the tire is then separated from the road surface by a thin film of water and loses traction. The result is loss of steering, braking and power control. Rubber tires have tread (grooves) that are designed to channel water from beneath the tire. This creates higher friction with the road surface and can help prevent or minimize instances of hydroplaning.