a public defender posts about legalese
Good post at a public defender about legalese:
I’ve always been fascinated with legal terms, phrases and concepts. But then again, I’m a geek. Most people that come into contact with the legal system are not (read: defendants and jurors).
So why is everything that we say in a courtroom so confusing…so obstructionist…so difficult to listen to and understand?
Over the last few years, reading transcripts, watching trials, being on trial, talking to clients, I’ve become more and more convinced that most of the things that come out of lawyers’ and judges’ mouths are superfluous.
Jury instructions are long, painful, meandering and - above all - repetitive. Plea canvasses are meaningless. Questions to witnesses are drawn out and even those on direct are often longer than the responses elicited.
I particularly would like to see jury instructions revised for clarity. Some of them are abominations of English that confuse jurors more than help them.