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The standardized heading of a legal instrument, such as a motion or a complaint, which sets forth the names of the parties in controversy, the name of the court, the docket number, and the name of the action.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. the first section of any written legal pleading (papers) to be filed, which contains the name, address, telephone number of the attorney, the person or persons the attorney represents, the court name, the title of the case, the number of the case, and the title of the documents (complaint, accusation, answer, motion, etc.). Each jurisdiction has its own rules as to the exact format of the caption. [note: there should be a sample]

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


1 seizure of a thing or a person.
2 the heading of a legal instrument.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

CAPTION, practice. That part of a legal instrument, as a 'Commission, indictment, &c., which shows where, when, and by what authority it was taken, found or executed. As to the forms and requisites of captions, see 1 Murph. 281; 8 Yerg. 514; 4 Iredell, 113; 6 Miss,. 469; 1 Scam. 456; 5 How. Mis. 20; 6 Blackf. 299; 1 Hawks, 354; 1 Brev. 169.
     2. In the English practice, when an inferior court in obedience to the writ of certiorari, returns an indictment into the K. B., it is annexed to the caption, then called a schedule, and the caption concludes with stating, that "it is presented in manner and form as appears in a certain indictment thereto annexed," and the caption and indictment are returned on separate parchments. 1 Saund. 309, n. 2. Vide Dane's Ab. Index, h.t.
     3. Caption is another name for arrest. CAPTIVE. By this term is understood one who has been taken; it is usually applied to prisoners of war. (q.v.) Although he has lost his liberty, a captive does not by his captivity lose his civil rights.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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