error

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Error

A mistake in a court proceeding concerning a Matter of Law or fact, which might provide a ground for a review of the judgment rendered in the proceeding.

The nature of the error dictates the availability of a legal remedy. Generally speaking, mistaken or erroneous application of law will void or reverse a judgment in the matter. Conversely, errors or mistakes in facts, upon which a judge or jury relied in rendering a judgment or verdict, may or may not warrant reversal, depending upon other factors involved in the error. However, appellate decisions make a distinction—not so much between fact and law, but rather, between harmless error and reversible error—in deciding whether to let stand or vitiate a judgment or verdict.

In litigation, a Harmless Error means that, despite its occurrence, the ultimate outcome of the case is not affected or changed, and the mistake is not prejudicial to the rights of the party who claimed that the error occurred. In other words, the party claiming error has failed to convince an appellate court that the outcome of the litigation would have been different if the error had not occurred. Most harmless errors are errors of fact, such as errors in dates, times, or inconsequential details to a factual scenario.

On the other hand, error that is deemed harmful in that it biased the ultimate decision of a jury or judge, constitutes reversible error, i.e., error that warrants reversal of a judgment (or modification, or retrial). A reversible error usually refers to the mistaken application of a law by a court, as where, for example, a court mistakenly assumes jurisdiction over a matter that another court has exclusive jurisdiction over. A court may erroneously apply laws and rules to admit (or deny the admission of) certain crucial evidence in a case, which may prove pivotal or dispositive to the outcome of the trial and warrant reversal of the judgment. Occasionally, a court may charge the jury with an instruction that applies the wrong law, or with an improper interpretation of the correct law. If the party claiming error can prove that the error was prejudicial to the outcome of the case or to the party's rights, the error will most likely be deemed reversible.

An example of potential harmful or reversible error of both law and fact might involve the age of a rape victim in a criminal trial for statutory rape, (where guilt is premised upon the actual age of the victim, and not on whether the sexual conduct was consensual).

In appellate practice, a party may not appeal an error that it induced a court to make (as by petitioning or moving the court to make a ruling which is actually erroneous). Appellate decisions refer to this as an invited error and will not permit a party to take advantage of the error by having the decision overruled or reversed.

The general use of the term error is often distinct from the use of the word mistake, especially in the law of contracts. In such cases, a Mistake of Law or fact (in the making of a contract, or performance thereupon) might result in a finding of harmless or reversible error, but the terms are not transitional.

Cross-references

Clerical Error; Plain-Error Rule.

error

n. a mistake by a judge in procedure or in substantive law, during a hearing, upon petitions or motions, denial of rights, during the conduct of a trial (either granting or denying objections), on approving or denying jury instructions, on a judgment not supported by facts or applicable law, or any other step in the judicial process. If a majority of an appeals court finds an error or errors which affect the result, or a denial of fundamental rights such as due process, the higher court will reverse the lower court's error in whole or in part (the entire judgment or a part of it), and remand (send it back) with instructions to the lower court. Appeals courts often find errors which have no prejudicial affect on the rights of a party and are thus harmless error. (See: harmless error, remand)

error

noun aberrance, aberrancy, aberration, delusion, deviation, distorted conception, erratum, erroneous statement, error, false conception, false impression, fault, flaw, inaccuracy, incorrect belief, injustice, lapse, malapropism, misbelief, miscarriage of justice, miscomputation, misconception, misconjecture, miscount, misguidance, misinterpretation, misjudgment, misprint, misreckoning, misstatement, mistaken belief, mistaken judgment, mistranslation, misunderstanding, misuse of words, oversight, peccatum, poor judgment, slip, unfactualness, wrong course, wrong impression, wrongness
Associated concepts: assignment of error, clerical error, connession of error, coram nobis, error apparent on the record, error of fact, error of judgment, error of law, fatal errors, fundamental error, harmful error, immaterial error, judicial error, legal error, manifest error, obvious error, plain error, prejudicial error, presentation of error, reversible error, substantial error, technical error, writ of error
Foreign phrases: De fide et officio judicis non recipitur quaestio, sed de scientia, sive sit error juris, sive facti.The good faith and honesty of a judge are not to be quessioned, but his knowledge, whether it be in error of law or fact, may be. Praesentia corporis tollit errorem nominis; et veritas nominis tollit er rorem demonstrationis. The presence of the body cures an error in the name; and the accuracy of the name cures an error of description. Veritas nooinis tollit errorem demonstrationis. Correctness of the name cures error in the description. Veritas demonstratioois tollit errorem nominis. Correctness of the description cures the error of the name. Error qui non resistitur approoatur. An error which is not resisted or opposed is waived. Error fucatus nuda veritate in multis est probabilior; et saepenumero rationibus vincit veritatem error. Error arttully disguised is, in many instances, more probable than naked truth; and frequently error overwhelms truth by arguuentation. Non videntur qui errant consentire. Those who err are not deemed to consent. Falsa orthographia, sive falsa grammatica, non vitiat concessionem. Bad spelling or grammar does not vitiate a deed. Vitium clerici nocere non debet. Clerical errors ought not to prejudice. Communis error facit jus. Common error makes the law. Tutius erratur ex parte mitiori. It is safer to err on the side of leniency. In generalibus versatur error. Error thrives on generalities. Error juris nocet. An error of law works an injury. Nihil facit error nominis cum de corpore constat. An error in the name is of no consequence when there is certainty as to the person. Tutius semper est errare acquietando, quam in puniendo; ex parte miseric ordiae quam ex parte justitiae. It is always safer to err in acquitting than in punishing; on the side of mercy rather than on the side of justice. Negatio connlusionis est error in lege. The denial of a conclusion is error in law. Errores ad sua principia referre, est refellere. To refer errors to their sources is to refute them.
See also: blame, delinquency, expiration, failure, fallacy, fault, flaw, indiscretion, lapse, misapplication, misconduct, miscue, misdoing, misestimation, misjudgment, misstatement, mistake, onus, oversight, tort, transgression

error

see MISTAKE.

ERROR. A mistake in judgment or deviation from the truth, in matters of fact and from the law in matters of judgment.
     2.-1 Error of fact. The law has wisely provide that a person shall be excused, if, intending to do a lawful act, and pursuing lawful means to accomplish his object, he commit an act which would be criminal or unlawful, if it were done with a criminal design or in an unlawful manner; for example, thieves break into my house, in the night time, to commit a burglary; I rise out of my bed, and seeing a person with a drawn sword running towards my wife, I take him for one of the burglars, and shoot him down, and afterwards find he was one of my friends, whom, owing to the dimness of the light, I could not recognize, who had lodged with me, rose on the first alarm, and was in fact running towards my wife, to rescue her from the hands of an assassin; still I am innocent, because I committed an error as to a fact, which I could not know, and had, no time to inquire about.
     3. Again, a contract made under a clear error is not binding; as, if the seller and purchaser of a house situated in Now York, happen to be in Philadelphia, and, at the time of the sale, it was unknown to both parties that the house was burned down, there will be no valid contract; or if I sell you my horse Napoleon, which we both suppose to be in my stable, and at the time of the contract he is dead, the sale is void. 7 How. Miss. R. 371 3 Shepl. 45; 20 Wend. 174; 9 Shepl. 363 2 Brown, 27; 5 Conn. 71; 6 Mass. 84; 12 Mass. 36. See Sale.
     4. Courts of equity will in general correct and rectify all errors in fact committed in making deeds and contracts founded on good considerations. See Mistake.
     5.-2. Error in law. As the law is, or which is the same thing, is presumed to be certain and definite, every man is bound to understand it, and an error of law will not, in general, excuse a man, for its violation.
     6. A contract made under an error in law, is in general binding, for were it not so, error would be urged in almost every case. 2 East, 469; see 6 John. Ch. R. 166 8 Cowen, 195; 2 Jac. & Walk. 249; 1 Story, Eq. Jur. 156; 1 Younge & Coll. 232; 6 B. & C. 671 Bowy. Com. 135; 3 Sav. Dr. Rom. App. viii. But a foreign law will for this purpose be considered as a fact. 3 Shepl. 45; 9 Pick. 112; 2 Ev. Pothier, 369, &c. See, also, Ignorance; Marriage; Mistake.
     7. By error, is also understood a mistake made in the trial of a cause, to correct which a writ of error may be sued out of a superior court.

ERROR, WRIT OF. A writ of error is one issued for a superior to an inferior court, for the purpose of bringing up the record and correcting an alleged error committed in the trial in the court below. But it cannot deliver the body from prison. Bro. Abr. Acc. pl. 45. The judges to whom the writ is directed have no power to return the record nisi judicium inde redditum sit. Nor can it be brought except on the final judgment. See Metcalf's Case, 11 Co. Rep. 38, which is eminently instructive on this subject. Vide Writ of Error.

References in classic literature ?
It was English history: among the readers I observed my acquaintance of the verandah: at the commencement of the lesson, her place had been at the top of the class, but for some error of pronunciation, or some inattention to stops, she was suddenly sent to the very bottom.
It is my comfort, that errors of this kind will escape the general class of readers, and that I may share in the ill-deserved applause of those architects, who, in their modern Gothic, do not hesitate to introduce, without rule or method, ornaments proper to different styles and to different periods of the art.
And it is highly probable, that such travellers, who shall hereafter visit the countries described in this work of mine, may, by detecting my errors (if there be any), and adding many new discoveries of their own, justle me out of vogue, and stand in my place, making the world forget that ever I was an author.
One's days were too brief to take the burden of another's errors on one's shoulders.
So, from first to last, the story of the telephone in Great Britain has been a "comedy of errors.
Respect for his ancestors excites, in the breast of man, interest in their history, attachment to their characters, concern for their errors, involuntary pride in their virtues.
Lothario said, too, that every married man should have some friend who would point out to him any negligence he might be guilty of in his conduct, for it will sometimes happen that owing to the deep affection the husband bears his wife either he does not caution her, or, not to vex her, refrains from telling her to do or not to do certain things, doing or avoiding which may be a matter of honour or reproach to him; and errors of this kind he could easily correct if warned by a friend.
For I found myself involved in so many doubts and errors, that I was convinced I had advanced no farther in all my attempts at learning, than the discovery at every turn of my own ignorance.
If my poor Flatland friend retained the vigour of mind which he enjoyed when he began to compose these Memoirs, I should not now need to represent him in this preface, in which he desires, firstly, to return his thanks to his readers and critics in Spaceland, whose appreciation has, with unexpected celerity, required a second edition of his work; secondly, to apologize for certain errors and misprints (for which, however, he is not entirely responsible); and, thirdly, to explain one or two misconceptions.
Which errors, had he lived, were not enough to injure him had he not made a sixth by taking away their dominions from the Venetians; because, had he not aggrandized the Church, nor brought Spain into Italy, it would have been very reasonable and necessary to humble them; but having first taken these steps, he ought never to have consented to their ruin, for they, being powerful, would always have kept off others from designs on Lombardy, to which the Venetians would never have consented except to become masters themselves there; also because the others would not wish to take Lombardy from France in order to give it to the Venetians, and to run counter to both they would not have had the courage.
To have his errors made public might ruin him for ever.
There were errors of orthography, there were foreign idioms, there were some faults of construction, there were verbs irregular transformed into verbs regular; it was mostly made up, as the above example shows, of short and somewhat rude sentences, and the style stood in great need of polish and sustained dignity; yet such as it was, I had hitherto seen nothing like it in the course of my professorial experience.