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specific performance - A mandatory order in equity. Where monetary damages would be inadequate compensation for the breach of a contract, the contractor will be compelled to perform specifically what the contract called for.  

standard of proof - There are essentially three standards of proof applicable in most court proceedings. In criminal and delinquency cases, the offense must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest standard. In civil cases and neglect and dependency proceedings, the lowest standard applies by a mere preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). In some civil cases, and in juvenile proceedings such a permanent termination of parental rights, an intermediate standard applies: proof by clear and convincing evidence.  

stare decisis - The doctrine that, when a court has once laid down a principle of law applicable to a certain set of facts, it will adhere to that principle and apply it to future cases where the facts are substantially the same. This is a defining characteristic of the common law system followed in the U.S., Great Britain, and a few other nations.  

status offense - Refers to misbehavior which would not be criminal if committed by an adult (e.g., truancy, runaway, etc.), but is defined as an offense when committed by a minor because of the minor's status.  

statute - A law passed by the state legislature.  

statute of limitations - A certain time allowed by statute in which litigation must be brought. In criminal cases, prosecution is barred if not brought within the statute of limitations.  

stay - A stopping or arresting of a judicial proceeding by order of a court (e.g., a stay of enforcement of a judgment).  

stipulation - An agreement by attorneys on opposite sides of a case as to any matter pertaining to the proceedings or trial. It is not binding unless agreed to by the parties, and most stipulations must be in writing.  

subpoena - An official order to appear in court (or at a deposition) at a specific time. Failure to obey a subpoena to appear in court is punishable as a contempt of court.  

subpoena duces tecum - A special form of subpoena which commands a witness to produce certain documents or records in a trial or at a deposition.  

substantive law - The law dealing with rights, duties and liabilities, as contrasted with procedural law, which governs the technical aspects of enforcing civil or criminal laws.  

summons - A notice to the named person that an action has been commenced against him in court and that he is required to appear, on the day named, and answer the complaint.  

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