American Dictionary of the English Language, Vol. 2

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Author: Noah Webster

Plea

PLEA, n. [L. lis, litis.]

1. In law, that which is alleged by a party in support of his demand; but in a more limited and technical sense, the answer of the defendant to the plaintiff’s declaration and demand. That which the plaintiff alleges in his declaration is answered and repelled or justified by the defendant’s plea. Pleas are dilatory, or pleas to the action. Dilatory pleas, are to the jurisdiction of the court, to the disability of the plaintiff, or in abatement. Pleas to the action are an answer to the merits of the complaint, which confesses or denies it. Pleas that deny the plaintiff’s complaint or demand, are the general issue, which denies the whole declaration; or special pleas in bar, which state something which precludes the plaintiff’s right of recovery.

2. A cause in court; a lawsuit, or a criminal process; as the pleas of the crown; the court of common pleas.

The supreme judicial court shall have cognizance of pleas real, personal and mixed.

3. That which is alleged in defense or justification; an excuse; an apology; as the tyrant’s plea.

When such occasions are,

No plea must serve; ’tis cruelty to spare.

4. Urgent prayer or entreaty.

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