"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Thursday, July 17, 2008

English Only, Please

I agree with A Public Defender, who wonders why lawyers continue to use ridiculous, unnecessary legalese. One of the things we try to drill into our new prosecutors both in my office and at the basic trial advocacy course I help teach, is establishing connection and commonalities with your fact-finder. The jury does not need to hear,

"What, if anything, happened after the robber pointed a firearm at you?"

When,

"What happened after the robber pointed a gun at you?"

will do just fine.

A minor example, but there are hundreds of such useless or technical terms that can be translated into standard English.

My own theory is that lawyers like the exclusivity that comes with having their own, gnostic-like lingo to the use and understanding of which only the initiates are admitted.

Of course, sometimes it can be just a generational communication gap, such as when an elderly judge I practice in front of admonished a defendant who kept violating his probation terms,


"It's like you're just dancing around the maypole."

Now I'm thinking this street-wise criminal has never heard of a maypole, much less what they're for.


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