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[Latin, In fact.] In fact, in deed, actually.
This phrase is used to characterize an officer, a government, a past action, or a state of affairs that must be accepted for all practical purposes, but is illegal or illegitimate. Thus, an office, position, or status existing under a claim or color of right, such as a de facto corporation. In this sense it is the contrary of de jure, which means rightful, legitimate, just, or constitutional. Thus, an officer, king, or government de facto is one that is in actual possession of the office or supreme power, but by usurpation, or without lawful title; while an officer, king, or governor de jure is one who has just claim and rightful title to the office or power, but has never had plenary possession of it, or is not in actual possession. A wife de facto is one whose marriage is Voidable by decree, as distinguished from a wife de jure, or lawful wife. But the term is also frequently used independently of any distinction from de jure; thus a blockade de facto is a blockade that is actually maintained, as distinguished from a mere paper blockade.
A de facto corporation is one that has been given legal status despite the fact that it has not complied with all the statutory formalities required for corporate existence. Only the state may challenge the validity of the existence of a de facto corporation.
De facto Segregation is the separation of members of different races by various social and economic factors, not by virtue of any government action or statute.
adj. Latin for "in fact." Often used in place of "actual" to show that the court will treat as a fact authority being exercised or an entity acting as if it had authority, even though the legal requirements have not been met. (See: de facto corporation, de jure)
DE FACTO, i. e. in deed. A term used to denote a thing actually done; a president of the United States de facto is one in the exercise of the executive power, and is distinguished from one, who being legally entitled to such power is ejected from it; the latter would be a president de jure. An officer de facto is frequently considered as an officer de jure, and his official acts are of equal validity. 10 S. & R. 250; 4 Binn. R. 371; 11 S. & R. 411, 414; Coxe, 318; 9 Mass. 231; 10 Mass. 290; 15 Mass. 180; 5 Pick. 487.