The local laws dividing cities or counties into different zones according to allowed uses, from single-family residential to commercial to industrial. Mixed-use zones are also used. Zoning ordinances control the size, location, and use of buildings…

Zero Tape

A tape that is printed out when a voting machine is first set up at a polling place. It is called a zero tape because it should register zero votes for each candidate or question.

Zealous Witness

A witness who gives testimony clearly biased toward the party that called him or her to testify.


The short name for a 1993 class-action case called Zambrano v. INS. Plaintiffs were undocumented people who had applied or tried to apply for amnesty (legalization) under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) but were denied or…

Youthful Offender

Someone under the age of 18 accused of a crime, who is processed through a juvenile court and juvenile detention or prison facilities instead of regular court, jail, and prison. Courts may have the latitude to try some young defendants as adults,…

Youngstown Steel V. Sawyer (1952)

A U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that President Harry S. Truman's seizure of strike-bound steel plants in order to provide materials for the Korean War could not be based on inherent presidential powers, but had to be authorized…

Yellow-Dog Contract

An agreement in which an employer forbids an employee to join a labor union. Yellow-dog contracts are unenforceable.

Wrongful Termination In Violation Of Public Policy

A legal claim that an employee has been illegally fired for reasons that most people would find morally or ethically repugnant. In many states, for example, an employee can sue for wrongful termination in violation of public policy after being…

Wrongful Termination

A legal claim that an employee has been fired for an illegal reason, such as discrimination, breach of contract, or in violation of public policy. (See also: wrongful termination in violation of public policy)

Wrongful Death

A death caused by the wrongful act of another, either accidentally or intentionally. A claim for wrongful death is made by a family member of a deceased person to obtain compensation for having to live without that person. The compensation is…


A tax-deductible expense, usually referring to depreciating the cost of an asset used in business or taking a Section179 expense for that asset.

Writ Of Prohibition

An appellate court's written order to prohibit a lower court from acting because it does not have jurisdiction to do so.

Writ Of Execution

A court order to a sheriff to enforce a judgment, by seizing real or personal property of a judgment debtor, in order to obtain funds to pay the winning plaintiff the judgment amount.

Writ Of Coram Nobis

(kor-m-noh-bis) A Latin term that describes a request to a judge to reopen and reconsider a matter that has already been decided. The basis for the request is a claim that the decision is based on a mistake of fact, which can now be rectifi…

Writ Of Attachment

A court order directing a sheriff (or other law enforcement officer) to seize property of a defendant that will satisfy a judgment against that person.