Definition of Error

A mistaken judgment or incorrect belief as to the existence or effect of matters of fact, or a false or mistaken conception or application of the law. Such a mistaken or false conception or application of the law to the facts of a cause as will furnish ground for a review of the proceedings upon a writ of error. A mistake of law, or false or irregular application of it, such as vitiates the proceedings and warrants the reversal of the judgment.

Error is also used as an elliptical expression for “writ of error”; as in saying that error lies; that a judgment may be reversed on error. See Writ of error.

See also Ignorance; Mistake; Plain error rule.

Assignment of errors. A specification of the errors upon which the appellant will rely in seeking to have the judgment of the lower court reversed, vacated, modified, or a new trial ordered. See e.g. Fed.R.App. P. 28.

Clerical error. See Clerical error.

Error apparent of record. Plain, fundamental error that goes to the foundation of the action irrespective of the evidence; an obvious misapprehension of the applicable law. Parks v. Parks, 68 App.D.C. 363, 98 F.2d 235, 236.

Fundamental error. In appellate practice, error which goes to the merits of the plaintiffs cause of action, and which will be considered on review, whether assigned as error or not, where the justice of the case seems to require it. Error of such character asto render judgment void. Error in law apparent on the face of the record; e.g. court lacked jurisdiction. See Reversible error, infra. See also Plain error rule.

Harmful error. Error which more probably than improbably affected the verdict or judgment prejudicially to the party complaining. See Fundamental error; Reversible error, this topic. See also Plain error rule.

Harmless error. In appellate practice, an error committed in the progress of the trial below, but which was not prejudicial to the rights of the party assigning it, and for which, therefore, the court will not reverse the judgment, as, where the error was neutralized or corrected by subsequent proceedings in the case, or where, notwithstanding the error, the particular issue was found in that party’s favor, or where, even if the error had not been committed, he could not have been legally entitled to prevail. Error which is not sufficient in nature or effect to warrant reversal, modification, or retrial. Fed.R.Crim.P. 52 provides: “Any error, defect, irregularity or variance which does not affect substantial rights shall be disregarded."

Invited error. In appellate practice, the principle of “invited error” is that if, during the progress of a cause, a party requests or moves the court to make a ruling which is actually erroneous, and the court does so, that party cannot take advantage of the error on appeal or review.

Reversible error. In appellate practice, such an error as warrants the appellate court in reversing the judgment before it; substantial error, that which reason-ably might have prejudiced the party complaining. See Fundamental error, supra. See also Plain error rule.

That's the definition of Error in Black's Law Dictionary 6th Edition. Courtesy of