Setting in a legal context means the scheduled date and time for a legal proceeding, like a trial or hearing.

[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]

Severability clause

A contract provision that keeps the remaining portions of the contract in force should a court declare one or more of its provisions unconstitutional, void, or unenforceable.

shifting the burden of proof

Shifting the burden of proof means to change the responsibility of proving or disproving a point from one party to the other party. Shifting the burden of proof is used in a variety of legal areas to allow more flexibility in courtroom...

Shocks the conscience

A phrase that can refer to any situation that seems grossly unjust to the observer. Judges often use this phrase as a test to determine which situations are so unjust or wrong that the court must intervene. If some event shocks the conscience of the...

Short cause

A short cause, also termed short-cause trial, is a case that requires only a brief trial. A short cause case usually lasts a day or less. If a short cause case lasts longer than a day, the judge may declare a mistrial and reset the case as...

shortening time

Shortening time is a court order made per the request of a party by a motion filed, allowing a motion or other legal matter to be set at a time shorter than provided by law or rules of court. Shortening time is usually granted when the time...

shotgun charge

A shotgun charge (also referred to as dynamite, nitroglycerin, third-degree or Allen charge) refers to jury instructions given by a court to a hung jury to encourage it to continue deliberating until it reaches a verdict. Since a mistrial...

Show cause order

See: order to show cause

[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]


(1.) The area in front of or next to the bench that is removed from the witness stand and the jury box. Judges will often call attorneys to speak confidentially with the judge privately so that the jury cannot hear what is discussed. (2.) To take...

SLAPP suit

Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP suit) refers to lawsuits brought by individuals and entities to dissuade their critics from continuing to produce negative publicity. By definition, SLAPP suits do not have any true legal...