Wouldn’t we all like to pick our titles?


Via law professor and uber-blogger Glenn Reynolds comes this gem, which is the legal response that a Tennessee defense attorney filed when the prosecutors for the State of Tennessee filed a motion seeking to bar him or his client from referring to them as “the government.”  After arguing that the government’s request should not be approved on the basis of the law, the aptly named attorney, Drew Justice, writes:

Should this Court disagree, and feel inclined to let the parties basically pick their own designations and ban words, then the defense has a few additional suggestions for amending the speech code. First, the Defendant no longer wants to be called “the Defendant.” This rather archaic term of art, obviously has a fairly negative connotation. It unfairly demeans, and dehumanizes Mr. Donald Powell. The word “defendant” should be banned. At trial, Mr. Powell hereby demands be addressed only by his full name, preceded by the title “Mister.” Alternatively, he may be called simply “the Citizen Accused.” This latter title sounds more respectable than the criminal “Defendant.” The designation “That innocent man” would also be acceptable.

It’s worth reading the whole thing to see how Justice progresses from there to his conclusion, which begins: “WHEREFORE, Captain Justice, Guardian of the Realm and Leader of the Resistance, primarily asks that the Court deny the State’s motion, as lacking legal basis.”

  • Warrington Faust

    Part of this is the effect of television. Early in my career, I can recall DA's referring to themselves as the "state", in Massachusetts, the "Commonwealth". I did not spend much time in litigation, but I can recall a switch when the DA's began referring to themselves as the "government" . This followed the fashion in a then popular TV show. Unless one has done it, it can be hard to believe how boring repetitive litigation becomes. I think that is the source of the occasional ridiculous motion one hears of. I recall filing one in Iambic Pentameter, that was not well received.

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