Duluth Lynchings Online Resource
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  2. Timeline
  3. Oral Histories
  4. People
  5. Glossary
  6. Additional Resources
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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 information about family and acquaintances.

Inmate Medical Case File
A collection of forms, reports, correspondence, and related papers documenting an inmateís physical and mental condition upon entering the correctional facility and during incarceration. Includes physical and mental examinations, illnesses suffered during incarceration, and medical history of the inmate.

Inmate Medical Record Sheets
Document each inmateís physical and mental condition upon entering the correctional facility and during incarceration. Includes physical and mental examinations, illnesses suffered during incarceration, and medical history of the inmate.

Inmate Register Sheets
Forms containing descriptive and background data of inmates. Included are case number, crime, sentence, dates of conviction and admission, physical and mental characteristics, date and place of birth, education, occupation, prior criminal history, and information about family and acquaintances.

Inquest
An investigation or hearing held by the coroner to determine cause of death.

Judgment Books
A record of judgments issued by a court. Includes case number, names of respondents and appellants, and date of the judgment.

Jurisdiction
The authority given by law to a court to try cases and rule on legal matters within a particular geographic area and/or over certain types of legal cases.

Jury
In a criminal trial, a group of citizens called to hear a trial and decide the guilt or innocence of the defendant.

Minutes
A detailed record of the proceedings of a court, department or other group.

Motion
A formal request to a judge or court to perform a certain act favorable to the requester.

Opinion
A formal decision that includes a detailed explanation of the legal principles involved.

Pardon
A release or permanent reprieve from legal penalties or punishments.

Pardon Application
A form or letter formally requesting a pardon. The application gives the grounds on which the pardon is being sought. Included are letters and affidavits expressing support or opposition to the application. Also contained are recommendations by various officials such as the trial judge, attorneys, and parole officers.

Pardon Application Register
A record of each inmateís application for a pardon. Forms include case number, date of conviction, crime, where imprisoned, length of sentence; dates the application was considered by the board, and results of the application.

Pardon Calendar
A summary of the consideration of a pardon application by the Board of Pardons. Contains brief statements from various officials, including the trial judge, prosecuting attorney, and the state parole agent.

Parole
The conditional release of a prisoner, obligating the prisoner to meet certain requirements to avoid being returned to jail.

Party
Anyone who is directly involved in a legal proceeding, including the plaintiff or prosecutor and the defendant.

Prosecution
In criminal law, refers to the government attorney charging and trying a case against a person accused of a crime.

Prosecutor
A generic term for the government's attorney in a criminal case.

Register
A general record of the formal proceedings at a specific court, department, or institution.

Register of Actions
Provides a chronological list of actions taken in court. It gives dates of orders, opinions, and judgments issued. Included are dates and notations concerning petitions, briefs, notices and letters filed by attorneys.

Register of Criminal Actions
Provides a chronological record of court actions, filings, and court proceedings. It gives the case number, names of the defendants and attorneys, and explanations for each action, filing, and court proceeding.

Respondent
1) The defendant in a lawsuit. 2) The party who must respond to an appeal issued by the losing party in the lower court (the appellant).

Self-incrimination
The act of making statements or producing evidence that tends to prove that oneself is guilty of a crime. The 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects persons from self-incrimination.

Sentence
The punishment ordered by a court for a defendant convicted of a crime.

Statistical Record
Forms containing descriptive and background data of inmates. Included are case number, crime, sentence, dates of conviction and admission, physical and mental characteristics, date and place of birth, education, religion, race, ethnicity, occupation, prior criminal history, and information about family and acquaintances.

Stipulation
A condition or requirement included as part of an agreement or contract.

Subpoena
A command to appear in court or before a legal entity to testify.

Supreme Court
1) The Minnesota Supreme Court hears appeals of decisions by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the Workers' Compensation Court and the Tax Court. Before the creation of the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 1983, the Supreme Court also heard appeals from Minnesota district courts. 2) The United States Supreme Court, the highest court in the nation, hears appeals of judgments by federal appellate courts, among other duties.

Supreme Court Record
A document submitted to the state Supreme Court when a case is being appealed. It gives a summary of lower court proceedings for review by the state Supreme Court. In the case of Max Mason, this document summarizes proceedings from the district court. It includes the indictment, selections of testimony, trial judge's instructions to the jury, statement of the verdict, motion for a new trial, order denying motion, and notice of appeal.

Syllabus
A brief statement summarizing a court opinion.

Trial Transcript
A lengthy document consisting of witness testimony, examination of the defendant prior to sentencing, and the delivery of the sentence. It is not a complete record of trial proceedings. The dates given for the transcripts indicate the date they were filed at the district court, not the dates of the trials.

 
 
  1. Statement of Purpose
  2. Timeline
  3. Oral Histories
  4. People
  5. Glossary
  6. Additional Resources

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