Color Law and Legal Definition

Color refers to the appearance of a legal claim to a right, authority, or office. For example color of title, under color of state law.

Color also refers to a common law pleading whereby an apparent, but legally insufficient, right or ground of action, is admitted in a defendant's pleading to exist for the plaintiff. A plaintiff’s apparent right or title to property the existence of which is pleaded by the defendant and then attacked as defective, as part of a confession and avoidance to remove the case from the jury by turning the issue from one of fact to one of law. There are two types of pleadings; express color and implied color. Express color refers to a defendant’s admission that the plaintiff has an apparent right to something coupled with an assertion that the plaintiff's right is legally inferior to the defendant's right to the same thing. This pleading was typically used in cases of trespass to land by making fictitious allegations that put the plaintiff's ownership of the land in question. Implied color refers to a defendant's tacit admission of a plaintiff's prima facie case by failing to deny it.