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The FindLaw Legal Dictionary -- free access to over 8260 definitions of legal terms. Search for a definition or browse our legal glossaries.



prejudice n

[Old French, from Latin praejudicium previous judgment, damage, from prae- before + judicium judgment]
1 : injury or detriment to one's legal rights or claims (as from the action of another): as
a : substantial impairment of a defendant's ability to defend [the court found no to the defendant by the lengthy delay in bringing charges]
b : tendency for a decision on an improper basis (as past conduct) by a trier of fact [whether an ex parte communication to a deliberating jury resulted in any reasonable possibility of to the defendant "National Law Journal"]
c : implied waiver of rights and privileges not explicitly retained [District Court erred in attaching to prisoner's complaint for injunctive relief "National Law Journal"]
2 : a final and binding decision (as an adjudication on the merits) that bars further prosecution of the same cause of action or motion [dismisses this case with ] [the dismissal was without ]
3 a : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics [the Constitution does not prohibit laws based on per se "R. H. Bork"]
b : an attitude or disposition (as of a judge) that prevents impartiality [that the judge before whom the matter is pending has a personal bias or …against him "U.S. Code"]
vt -diced
1 : to injure or damage the rights of by some legal action or prejudice [if it appears that a defendant or the government is prejudiced by a joinder of offenses "Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 14"]
2 : to injure or damage (rights) by some legal action or prejudice [that the denial prejudiced his right to a fair trial] [this clause does not other rights]

Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

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