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Duluth Lynchings Online Resource
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Chronology of Events

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Glossary
     
 

Acquittal
The act of declaring the innocence of a person who has been charged with a crime.

Affiant
The person who makes an affidavit.

Affidavit
A written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation, for use as evidence in court.

Appeal
The act of asking a higher court to reverse the judgment or other legal ruling by a lower court.

Appellant
A person who appeals against a court ruling.

Appellantís Brief
A document prepared by the appellant, giving a summary of the case and reasons for the appeal.

Appellate Court
A court that hears appeals of judgments from a lower court.

Arraignment
Court appearance in which defendant is formally charged with a crime and asked to enter a plea, usually "guilty," "not guilty," or "no contest."

Autopsy
Medical examination of a deceased person to determine cause of death.

Bail
The money and/or bond left with the court to ensure that an arrested person who is released from jail will show up at all required court appearances.

Bench Warrant
A warrant issued by a judge, often to command someone to appear before the judge.

Bond
Money posted, usually by a bondsman or insurance company, for a defendant who cannot afford bail. The defendant pays a portion of the bail, often ten percent, while the bond covers the remainder of the bail.

Brief
A concise statement of a clientís case.

Brief and Argument for the State
A document prepared by the state, giving a summary of the case and stating the state's position and arguments in an appeal.

Commitment Papers
Contain the legal document (warrant) committing the inmate to the correctional facility. Trial documents, sentencing records, and commitment proceedings accompany some commitment papers.

Coronerís Certificate
A certificate forwarded to the district court to be used if needed in trial. Each certificate includes the date the remains were examined, date the certificate was filed by the court, and the coronerís conclusion as to the cause of death.

Coronerís Record
Gives information not available in the coronerís report, including case number, coronerís name, and additional remarks.

Coronerís Report
Records the date, place, and cause of a personís death. It notes whether an autopsy was performed and whether an inquest was held. The report includes the deceased personís age, sex, occupation, physical appearance, former residence, and place of burial.

County Attorney
Elected official responsible for the prosecution of felony crimes. Misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, which are less serious crimes, are usually the responsibility of city attorneys, but are prosecuted by county attorneys in less populated counties.

County Coroner
Elected official responsible for investigating deaths that occurred under violent or unusual circumstances.

Criminal Calendar
Provides a record of actions filed, orders issued, and court proceedings. Calendars may include a judgeís handwritten notations and information not found in the Registers of Criminal Actions.

Criminal Journal
Provides a chronological summary of district court proceedings. Contains information regarding documents submitted, who appeared before the court, the judges and officers present, and orders and judgments issued.

Death Certificate
For every death in Minnesota, a death certificate is filed locally by the vital statistics registrar and forwarded to the state Board of Health. Each certificate records the date, place and cause of death. Also included are the deceased personís age, sex, race, marital status, former residence, and place and date of burial.

Defendant
The party charged with a crime in a criminal prosecution.

Dissent
A judge's opinion in disagreement with the majority opinion in a case examined by several judges.

District Court
1) Minnesota district courts hear all civil, criminal, family, juvenile, traffic, and ordinance violation matters. At the time of the Duluth lynchings trials, the state was divided into nineteen judicial districts. Currently the state is divided into ten judicial districts. 2) United States district courts, unlike state and local district courts, compose the lowest level of the federal court system.

Grand Jury
In criminal cases, a group of citizens designated to hear arguments and decide whether to charge an individual with a crime. A grand jury indictment is the first step, after arrest, in any formal prosecution of a felony. Grand juries are most commonly used in the federal courts.

Hung Jury
A jury that is unable to reach a verdict, usually due to a disagreement among members of the jury.

Indictment
A charge of a felony voted by a grand jury, based upon witness testimony and other evidence presented by the prosecuting attorney. To bring an indictment the grand jury does not find guilt, but only the probability that a crime was committed and the accused should be tried in court.

Indictment Record
A document formally charging one or more persons with a felony offense. Describes the alleged crime, giving the names of witnesses examined before the grand jury.

Inmate Case File
A collection of forms, reports, correspondence, and related papers documenting the incarceration and discharge of inmates from prison or parole. Includes parole and discharge data, interviews and examinations, inmateís correspondence, and a record of visits. Case files may also contain documents regarding work assignments, conduct, health, and the inmateís family situation.

Inmate History and Record
Form containing descriptive and background data of inmates. Included are case number, sentence, dates of conviction and admission, physical and mental characteristics, date and place of birth, education, religion, race, ethnicity, occupation, prior criminal history, and informatio