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5 definitions found
 for Plea
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Plea \Plea\, n. [OE. plee, plai, plait, fr. OF. plait, plaid,
     plet, LL. placitum judgment, decision, assembly, court, fr.
     L. placitum that which is pleasing, an opinion, sentiment,
     from placere to please. See Please, and cf. Placit,
     1. (Law) That which is alleged by a party in support of his
        cause; in a stricter sense, an allegation of fact in a
        cause, as distinguished from a demurrer; in a still more
        limited sense, and in modern practice, the defendant's
        answer to the plaintiff's declaration and demand. That
        which the plaintiff alleges in his declaration is answered
        and repelled or justified by the defendant's plea. In
        chancery practice, a plea is a special answer showing or
        relying upon one or more things as a cause why the suit
        should be either dismissed, delayed, or barred. In
        criminal practice, the plea is the defendant's formal
        answer to the indictment or information presented against
        [1913 Webster]
     2. (Law) A cause in court; a lawsuit; as, the Court of Common
        Pleas. See under Common.
        [1913 Webster]
              The Supreme Judicial Court shall have cognizance of
              pleas real, personal, and mixed.      --Laws of
        [1913 Webster]
     3. That which is alleged or pleaded, in defense or in
        justification; an excuse; an apology. "Necessity, the
        tyrant's plea." --Milton.
        [1913 Webster]
              No plea must serve; 't is cruelty to spare.
        [1913 Webster]
     4. An urgent prayer or entreaty.
        [1913 Webster]
     Pleas of the crown (Eng. Law), criminal actions.
        [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

      n 1: a humble request for help from someone in authority [syn:
           supplication, plea]
      2: (law) a defendant's answer by a factual matter (as
         distinguished from a demurrer)
      3: an answer indicating why a suit should be dismissed

From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0 :

  66 Moby Thesaurus words for "plea":
     adjuration, alibi, answer, apology, appeal, application, argument,
     argumentum, beseechment, bid, call, case, clamor, cons,
     consideration, counterstatement, cry, defence, defense, demurrer,
     denial, elenchus, entreaty, exception, excuse, explanation,
     extenuation, ignoratio elenchi, imploration, imploring,
     imprecation, invocation, invocatory plea, justification,
     mitigation, objection, obsecration, obtestation, out, overture,
     palliation, petition, plaidoyer, pleading, pleadings, prayer,
     pretext, pros, pros and cons, reason, rebuttal, refutation, reply,
     request, response, right, riposte, rogation, solicitation,
     special demurrer, special pleading, statement of defense, suit,
     supplication, talking point, vindication

From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856) :

  PLEA, practice. The defendant's answer by matter of fact, to the plaintiff's 
       2. It is distinguished from a demurrer, which opposes matter of law to 
  the declaration. Steph. Pl. 62. 
       3. Pleas are divided into plea dilatory and peremptory; and this is the 
  most general division to which they are subject. 
       4. Subordinate to this is another division; they are either to the 
  jurisdiction of the court, in suspension of the action; in abatement of the 
  writ; or, in bar of the action; the first three of which belong to the 
  dilatory class, the last is of the peremptory kind. Steph. Pl. 63; 1 Chit. 
  Pl. 425; Lawes, Pl. 36. 
       5. The law has prescribed and settled the order of pleading, which the 
  defendant is to pursue, to wit; 1st. To the jurisdiction of the court. 2d. 
  To the disability, &c. of the person. 1st. Of the plaintiff. 2d. Of the 
  defendant. 3d. To the count or declaration. 4th. To the writ. 1st. To the 
  form of the writ; first, Matter apparent on the face of it, secondly, Matter 
  dehors. 2d. To the action of the writ. 5th. To the action itself in bar. 
       6. This is said to be the natural order of pleading, because each 
  subsequent, plea admits that there is no foundation for the former. Such is 
  the English law. 1 Ch. Plead. 425. The rule is different with regard to the 
  plea of jurisdiction in the courts of the United States and those of 
  Pennsylvania. 1. Binn. 138; ld. 219; 2 Dall. 368; 3 Dall. 19; 10 S. & R. 
       7.-2. Plea, in its ancient sense, means suit or action, and it is 
  sometimes still used in that sense; for example, A B was summoned to answer 
  C D of a plea that he render, &c. Steph. Pl. 38, 39, u. 9; Warr. Law 
  Studies, 272, note n. 
       8.-3. This variable word, to plead, has still another and more 
  popular use, importing forensic argument in a cause, but it is not so 
  employed by the profession. Steph. Pl. App. note 1. 
       9. There are various sorts of pleas, the principal of which are given 
      10. Plea in abatement, is when, for any default, the defendant prays 
  that the writ or plaint do abate, that is, cease against him for that time. 
  Com. Dig. Abatement, B. 
      11. Hence it may be observed, 1st. That the defendant may plead in 
  Abatement for faults apparent on the writ or plaint itself, or for such as 
  are shown dehors, or out of the writ or plaint. 2d. That a plea in, 
  abatement is never perpetual, but only a temporary plea, in form at least, 
  and if the cause revived, the plaintiff may sue again. 
      12. If the defendant plead a plea in abatement, in his plea, he ought 
  generally to give a better writ to the plaintiff, that is, show him what 
  other and better writ can be adopted; Com. Dig. Abatement, I 1; but if the 
  plea go to the matter and substance of the writ, &c., he need not give the 
  plaintiff another writ. Nor need he do so when the plea avoids the whole 
  cause of the action. Id. I 2. 
      13. Pleas in abatement are divided into those relating, first, to the 
  disability of the plaintiff or defendant; secondly, to the count or 
  declaration; thirdly, to the writ. 1 Chit. Pl. 435. 
      14.-1. Plea in abatement to the person of the plaintiff. Pleas of this 
  kind are either that the plaintiff is not in existence, being only a 
  fictitious person, or dead; or else, that being in existence, he is under 
  some disability to bring or maintain the action, as by being an alien enemy; 
  Com. Dig. Abatement, E 4 Bac. Abr. Abatement, B 3; 1 Chit. Pl. 436; or the 
  plaintiff is a married woman, and she sues alone. See 3 T. R. 631; 6 T. R. 
      15. Plea in abatement to the person of the defendant. These pleas are 
  coverture, and, in the English law, infancy, when the parol shall demur. 
  When a feme covert is sued, and the objection is merely that the husband 
  ought to have been sued jointly with her; as when, since entering into the 
  contract, or committing the tort, she has married; she must, when sued 
  alone, plead her coverture in abatement, and aver that her husband is 
  living. 3 T. R. 627; 1 Chit. Pl. 437, 8. 
      16.-2. Plea in abatement to the count. Pleas of this kind are for some 
  uncertainty, repugnancy, or want of form, not appearing on the face of the 
  writ itself, but apparent from the recital of it in the declaration only; or 
  else for some variance between the writ and declaration. But it was always 
  necessary to obtain oyer of the writ before the pleading of these pleas; and 
  since oyer cannot now be had of the original writ for the purpose of 
  pleading them, it seems that they can no longer be pleaded. See Oyer. 
      17. Plea in abatement to the form of the writ. Such pleas are for some 
  apparent uncertainty, repugnancy, or want of form, variance from the record, 
  specialty, &c., mentioned therein, or misnomer of the plaintiff or 
  defendant. Lawes' Civ. Pl. 106; 1 Chit. Pl. 440. 
      18. Plea in abatement to the action of the writ. Pleas of this kind are 
  pleaded when the action is misconceived, or was prematurely commenced before 
  the cause of action arose; or when there is another action depending for the 
  same cause. Tidd's Pr. 579. But as these matters are ground for demurrer or 
  nonsuit, it is now very unusual to plead them in abatement. See 2 Saund. 
  210, a. 
      19. Plea in avoidance, is one which confesses the matters contained in 
  the declaration, and avoids the effect of them, by some new matter which 
  shows that the plaintiff is not entitled to maintain his action. For 
  example, the plea may admit the contract declared upon, and show that it was 
  void or voidable, because of the inability of one of the parties to make it, 
  on account of coverture, infancy, or the like. Lawes, Pl. 122. 
      20. Plea in bar, is one that denies that the plaintiff has any cause of 
  action. 1 Ch. Pl. 459 Co. Litt. 303 b; 6 Co. 7. Or it is one which shows 
  some ground for barring or defeating the action; and makes prayer to that 
  effect, Steph. Pl. 70; Britton, 92. See Bar. 
      21. A plea in bar is, therefore, distinguished from all pleas of the 
  dilatory class, as impugning the right of the action altogether, instead of 
  merely tending to divert the proceedings to another jurisdiction, or suspend 
  them, or abate the particular writ. It is in short a substantial and 
  conclusive answer to the action. It follows, from this property, that in 
  general, it must either deny all, or some essential part of the averments of 
  fact in the declaration; or, admitting them to be true, allege new facts, 
  which obviate and repel their legal effect. In the first case the defendant 
  is said, in the language of pleading, to traverse the matter of the 
  declaration; in the latter, to confess and avoid it. Pleas in bar are 
  consequently divided into pleas by way of traverse, and pleas by way of 
  confession and avoidance. Steph. Pl. 70, 71. 
      22. Pleas in bar are, also divided into general or special. General 
  pleas in bar deny or take issue either upon the whole or part of the 
  declaration, or contain some new matter which is relied upon by the 
  defendant in his defence. Lawes Pl. 110. 
      23. Special pleas in bar are very various, according to the 
  circumstances of the defendant's case; as, in personal actions, the 
  defendant may plead any special matter in denial, avoidance, discharge, 
  excuse, or justification of the matter alleged in the declaration, which 
  destroys or bars the plaintiff's action; or he may plead any matter which 
  estops, or precludes him from averring or insisting on any matter relied 
  upon by the plaintiff in his declaration. The latter sort of pleas are 
  called pleas in estoppel. In real actions, the tenant may plead any matter 
  which destroys and bars the demandant's title; as, a general release. Id. 
  115, 116. 
      24. The general qualities of a plea in bar are, 1. That it be adapted to 
  the nature and form of the action, and also conformable to the count. Co. 
  Litt. 303, a 285, b; Bac. Abr. Pleas, I; 1 Roll. Rep. 216. 
       2. That it answers all it assumes to answer, and no more. Co. Litt. 303 
  a; Com. Dig. Pleader, E 1, 36; 1 Saund. 28, n. 1, 2, 3; 2 Bos. & Pull. 427; 
  3 Bos. & Pull. 174. 
       3. In the case of a special plea, that it confess and admit the fact. 3 
  T. R. 298; 1 Salk. 394; Carth. 380; 1 Saund. 28, n. and 14 u. 3 10 Johns. R. 
       4. That it be single. Co. Litt. 304; Bac. Ab. Pleas, 2 Saund. K, 1, 2; 
  Com Dig. Plead. E 2; 49, 50; Plowd. Com. 140, d. 
       5. That it be certain. Com. Dig. Pleader, E 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11; C 41; 
  this Dict. Certainty; Pleading. 
       6. It must be direct, positive, and not argumentative. See 6 Cranch, 
  126; 9 Johns. It. 313. 
       7. It must be capable of trial. 8. It must be true and capable of 
  proof. See Plea, sham. 
      25. The parts of a plea in bar may be considered with reference to, 
       1. The title of the court in which it is pleaded. 
       2. The title of the term. 
       3. The names of the parties in the margin. These, however, do not 
  constitute any part of the plea. The surnames only are usually inserted, and 
  that of the defendant precedes the plaintiff's; as, "Roeats. Doe." 
       4. The commencement which includes the statement of, 1. The name of the 
  defendant; 2. The appearance; 3. The defence; see Defence; 4. The actio non; 
   see Actio non. 
       5. The body, which may contain, 1. The inducement; 2. The protestation; 
  3. Ground of defence 4. Qua est eadem; 5. The traverse. 
       6. The conclusion. 
      26. Dilatory pleas are such as delay the plaintiff's remedy, by 
  questioning, not the cause of action, but the propriety of the suit, or the 
  mode in which the remedy is sought. 
      27. Dilatory pleas are divided by Sir William Blackstone, into three 
  kinds: 1. Pleas to the jurisdiction of the court; as, that the cause of 
  action arose out of the limits of the jurisdiction of the court, when the 
  action is local. 2. Pleas to the disability of the plaintiff, or, as they 
  are usually termed, to' the person of the plaintiff; as, that he is an alien 
  enemy. 3. Pleas in abatement of the writ, or count; these are founded upon 
  some defect or mistake, either in the writ itself; as, that the defendant is 
  misnamed in it, or the like; or in the mode in which the count pursues it; 
  as, that there is some variance or repugnancy between the count and writ; in 
  which case, the fault in the count furnishes a cause for abating the writ. 2 
  Bl. Com. 301 Com. Dig. Abatement, G 1, 8; Id. Pleader, C 14, 15; Bac. Ab. 
  Pleas, F 7. 
      28. All dilatory pleas are sometimes called pleas in abatement, as 
  contradistinguished to pleas to the action; this is perhaps not strictly 
  proper, because, though all pleas in abatement are dilatory pleas, yet all 
  dilatory pleas are not pleas in abatement. Gould on Pl. ch. 2, Sec. 35; vide 
  1 Chit. PI, ch. 6; Bac. Ab. Abatement, 0; 1 Mass 358; 1 John. Cas. 101. 2. A 
  plea in discharge, as distinguish ed from a plea in avoidance, is one which 
  admits the demand, and instead of avoiding the payment or satisfaction of 
  it, shows that it has been discharged by some matter of fact. Such are pleas 
  of payment, release, and the like. 
      30. A plea in excuse, is one which admits the demand or complaint stated 
  in the declaration, but excuses the non-compliance of the plaintiff's claim, 
  or the commission of the act of which he complains, on account of the 
  defendant having done all in his power to satisfy the former, or not having 
  teen the culpable author of the latter. A plea of tender is an example of 
  the former, and a plea of son assault demesne, an instance of the latter. 
      31. A foreign plea is one which takes the cause out of the court where 
  it is pleaded, by showing a want of jurisdiction in that court. 2 Lill. Pr. 
  Beg. 374; Carth. 402. See the form of the plea in Lill. Ent. 475. 
      32. A plea of justification is one in which the defendant professes 
  purposely to have done the acts which are the subject of the plaintiff's 
  suit, in order to exercise that right which he considers he might in point 
  of law exercise, and in the exercise of which he conceives himself not 
  merely excused, but justified. 
      33. A plea puis darrein continuance. Under the ancient law, there were 
  continuances, i. e. adjournments of the proceedings for certain purposes, 
  from one day or one term to another; and, in such cases, there was an entry 
  made on the record, expressing the ground of the adjournment, and appointing 
  the parties to reappear at a given day. 
      34. In the interval between such continuance and the day appointed, the 
  parties were of course out of court, and consequently not in a situation to 
  plead. But it sometimes happened, that after a plea had been pleaded, and 
  while the parties were out of court, in consequence of such continuance, a 
  new matter of defence arose, which did not exist, and which the defendant 
  had consequently no opportunity to plead, before the last continuance. This 
  new defence he was therefore entitled, at the day given for his 
  reappearance, to plead as a matter that had happened after the last 
  continuance, puis darrein continuance. In the same cases that occasioned a 
  continuance in the ancient common law, but in no other, a continuance shall 
  take place. At the time indeed, when the pleadings are filed and delivered, 
  no record exists, and there is, therefore, no entry at that time, made on 
  the record, of the award of a continuance; but the parties are, from the day 
  when, by the ancient practice, a continuance would have been entered, 
  supposed to be out of court, and the pleading is suspended, till the day 
  arrives to which, by the ancient, practice, the continuance would extend. At 
  that day, the defendant is entitled, if any new matter of defence has arisen 
  in the interval, to plead it according to the ancient plan, puis darrein 
      35. A plea puis darrein continuance is not a departure from, but is a 
  waiver of the first plea, and is always headed by way of substitution for 
  it, on which no proceeding is afterwards had. 1 Salk. 178; 2 Stran. 1195 
  Hob. 81; 4 Serg. & Rawle, 239. Great certainty is requisite in pleas of this 
  description. Doct. Pl. 297; Yelv. 141; Cro. Jac. 261; Freem. 112; 2 Lutw. 
  1143; 2 Salk. 519; 2 Wils. 139; Co. Entr. 517 b. It is not sufficient to say 
  generally that after the last continuance such a thing happened, but the day 
  of the continuance must be shown, and also the time and place must be 
  alleged where the matter of defence arose. Id. ibid.; Bull. N. P. 309. 
      36. Pleas puis darrein continuance are either in bar or abatement; Com. 
  Dig. Abatement, I 24; and are followed, like other pleas, by a replication 
  and other pleadings, till issue is attained upon them such pleas must be 
  verified on oath before they are allowed. 2 Smith's R. 396; Freem. 352; 1 
  Strange, 493. 
      37. A sham plea is one which is known to the pleader to be false, and is 
  entered for the purpose of delay. There are certain pleas of this kind, 
  which, in consequence of their having been long and frequently used in 
  practice, have obtained toleration from the courts; and, though discouraged, 
  are tacitly allowed; as, for example, the common plea of judgment recovered, 
  that is, that judgment has been already recovered by the plaintiff, for the 
  same cause of action. Steph. on Pleading, 444, 445; 1 Chit. Pl. 505, 506. 
      38. Plea in suspension of the action. Such a plea is one which shows 
  some ground for not proceeding in the suit at the present period, and prays 
  that the pleading may be stayed, until that ground be removed. The number of 
  these pleas is small. Among them is that which is founded on the nonage of 
  the parties, and termed parol demurrer. Stephen on Pleading, 64. See, 
  generally, Bac. Abr. Pleas, Q; Com. Dig. Abatement, I 24, 34; Doct, Pl. 297; 
  Bull. N. P. 309; Lawes Civ. Pl. 173; 1 Chit. Pl. 634,; Steph. Pl. 81; Bouv. 
  Inst. Index.  

From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856) :

  PLEA, chancery practice. "A plea," says Lord Bacon, speaking of proceedings 
  in courts of equity, "is a foreign matter to discharge or stay the suit." 
  Ord. Chan. (ed. Beam.) p. 26. Lord Redesdale defines it to be "a special 
  answer showing or relying upon one or more things as a cause why the suit 
  should be either dismissed, delayed or barred." Mitf. Tr. Ch. 177; see Coop. 
  Eq. Pl. 223; Beames' Pl. Eq. 1. A plea is a special answer to a bill, and 
  differs in this from an answer in the common form, as it demands the 
  judgment of the court in the first instance, whether the matter urged by it 
  does not debar the plaintiff from his title to that answer which the bill 
  requires. 2  Sch. & Lef. 721. 
       2. Pleas are of three sorts: 1. To the jurisdiction of the court. 2. To 
  the person of the plaintiff. 3. In bar of the plaintiff's suit. Blake's Ch. 
  Pr. 112. See, generally, Beames' Elem. of Pleas in Eq.; Mitf. Tr. Cha. oh. 
  2, s. 2, pt. 2; Coop. Eq. Pl. ch. 5; 2 Madd. Ch. Pr. 296 to 331; Blake's Ch. 
  Pr. 112 to 114; Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t. 

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