S


Sanction

A penalty or other type of enforcement used to bring about compliance with the law or with rules and regulations.

Schedules

Lists submitted by the debtor along with the petition (or shortly thereafter) showing the debtor's assets, liabilities, and other financial information. (There are official forms a debtor must use.)

Secured creditor

A secured creditor is an individual or business that holds a claim against the debtor that is secured by a lien on property of the estate. The property subject to the lien is the secured creditor's collateral.

Secured debt

Debt backed by a mortgage, pledge of collateral, or other lien; debt for which the creditor has the right to pursue specific pledged property upon default. Examples include home mortgages, auto loans and tax liens.

Senior judge

A federal judge who, after attaining the requisite age and length of judicial experience, takes senior status, thus creating a vacancy among a court's active judges. A senior judge retains the judicial office and may cut back his or her workload by as much as 75 percent, but many opt to keep a larger caseload.

Sentence

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

Sentencing guidelines

A set of rules and principles established by the United States Sentencing Commission that trial judges use to determine the sentence for a convicted defendant.

Sequester

To separate. Sometimes juries are sequestered from outside influences during their deliberations.

Service of process

The delivery of writs or summonses to the appropriate party.

Settlement

Parties to a lawsuit resolve their dispute without having a trial. Settlements often involve the payment of compensation by one party in at least partial satisfaction of the other party's claims, but usually do not include the admission of fault.

Small business case

A special type of chapter 11 case in which there is no creditors' committee (or the creditors' committee is deemed inactive by the court) and in which the debtor is subject to more oversight by the U.S. trustee than other chapter 11 debtors. The Bankruptcy Code contains certain provisions designed to reduce the time a small business debtor is in bankruptcy.

Standard of proof

Degree of proof required. In criminal cases, prosecutors must prove a defendant's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." The majority of civil lawsuits require proof "by a preponderance of the evidence" (50 percent plus), but in some the standard is higher and requires "clear and convincing" proof.

Statement of financial affairs

A series of questions the debtor must answer in writing concerning sources of income, transfers of property, lawsuits by creditors, etc. (There is an official form a debtor must use.)

Statement of intention

A declaration made by a chapter 7 debtor concerning plans for dealing with consumer debts that are secured by property of the estate.

Statute

A law passed by a legislature.

Statute of limitations

The time within which a lawsuit must be filed or a criminal prosecution begun. The deadline can vary, depending on the type of civil case or the crime charged.

Sua sponte

Latin, meaning "of its own will." Often refers to a court taking an action in a case without being asked to do so by either side.

Subordination

The act or process by which a person's rights or claims are ranked below those of others.

Subpoena

A command, issued under a court's authority, to a witness to appear and give testimony.

Subpoena duces tecum

A command to a witness to appear and produce documents.