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LEGAL DICTIONARY - LETTER V


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VAGRANT
A tramp or homeless person.

VENDOR
The seller; the person selling.

VARIANCE 
An exception to a zoning ordinance, usually granted by a local government. For example, if you own an oddly shaped lot that could not accommodate a home in accordance with your city's setback requirement, you could apply at the appropriate office for a variance allowing you to build closer to a boundary line.

VENUE
This has the same meaning as in everyday English except that in a legal context it usually refers specifically to the location of a judicial hearing. For example, if a criminal case has a very high media profile in a particular city, the "venue" may change to another city to ensure objective witnesses (i.e. that would not have been spoiled by media speculation on the crime).

VEHICLE
Any thing that is designed to transport persons or objects. A bicycle has been held to be a vehicle.

VERDICT
The decision of a jury after a trial, which must be accepted by the trial judge to be final. A judgment by a judge sitting without a jury is not a verdict. A "special verdict" is a decision by the jury on the factual questions in the case, leaving the application of the law to those facts to the judge, who makes the final judgment. A "directed verdict" is a decision following an instruction by the judge that the jury can only bring in a specific verdict ("based on the evidence you must bring in a verdict of 'not guilty'"). A "chance verdict" (decided by lot or the flip of a coin), a "compromise verdict" (based on some jurors voting against their beliefs to break a deadlock) and a "quotient verdict" (averaging the amount each juror wants to award) are all improper and will result in a mistrial (having the verdict thrown out by the judge) or be cause for reversal of the judgment on appeal.

VERTICAL PRIVITY
A legal relationship in corporate law that exists between companies in the chain of distribution of a product. This relationship creates responsibilities between the companies involved, including being liable for defects in the product.

VIDELICET
Latin for "to wit" or "that is to say." "Viz.", which is the abbreviation of videlicet, is much more commonly used. It is often found in legal documents to advise that what follows provides more detail about a preceding general statement. For example: "The defendant committed adultery; viz., on April 15th, at approximately 10:30 pm, he had sexual intercourse with Ms Jane Doe."

VIEW ORDINANCE
A law adopted by some cities or towns with desirable vistas -- such as those in the mountains or overlooking the ocean -- that protects a property owner from having his or her view obstructed by growing trees. View ordinances don't cover buildings or other structures that may block views.

VOIDABLE
The law distinguishes between contracts which are void and those which are voidable. Some contracts have such a latent defect that they are said to be void (see definition of "void" above). Other has more minor defects to them and is voidable at the option of the party victimized by the defect. For example, contracts signed by a person when they are totally drunk are voidable by that person upon recovering sobriety.