Government Asks Court To Bar Opposing Lawyer From Calling It 'The Government'; Hilarity Ensues

from the captain-justice dept

Reader Willard Seehorn sends in a fantastic example of both ridiculous government requests in a legal matter, as well as one of the best snarky responses to such an overreach. It starts with a Tennessee state Assistant District Attorney General who, in the midst of a case, asked the court to order the defense counsel to refrain from referring to the prosecution as “the government.” You can understand why certainly, seeing as how in the present consciousness, the Americans on the jury might associate “the government” with “the government that is doing all that crap they hate on an ongoing basis.” The ADAG made this case explicitly, stating that use of the term was inherently derogatory coming from the defense council, Drew Justice. Well, Justice replied to the court in the most wonderful way imaginable.

Justice noted in his response that the court had no authority to ban the term’s use in the courtroom and that doing so would be a first amendment violation. However, should the court disagree, he had some requests:

First, the Defendant no longer wants to be called “the Defendant.” This rather archaic term of art obviously has a fairly negative connotation…. At trial, Mr. P. hereby demands to 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.

Moreover, defense counsel does not wish to be referred to as a “lawyer,” or a “defense attorney.” Those terms are substantially more prejudicial than probative. See Tenn. R. Evid. 403. Rather, counsel for the Citizen Accused should be referred to primarily as the “Defender of the Innocent.” This title seems particularly appropriate, because every Citizen Accused is presumed innocent. Alternatively, counsel would also accept the designation “Guardian of the Realm.” Further, the Citizen Accused humbly requests an appropriate military title for his own representative, to match that of the opposing counsel. Whenever addressed by name, the name “Captain Justice” will be appropriate.

It appears the snark is strong with Captain Justice. Perhaps some will say that such an obviously sarcastic and ridiculous response is unbecoming of an officer of the court. To hell with those people. How else is a sane person supposed to respond to an equally ridiculous request from the prosecutor? Not wanting to be referred to as “the government” when you are “the government” is silly. Captain Justice’s sign off sums the request up nicely.

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. Alternatively, the Citizen Accused moves for an order in limine modifying the speech code as aforementioned, and requiring any other euphemisms and feel-good terms as the Court finds appropriate.

Hopefully the court will act sanely and not try to muzzle an attorney over such a specious claim. On the other hand, reading about the ongoing adventures of Captain Justice would be rather entertaining.

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Comments on “Government Asks Court To Bar Opposing Lawyer From Calling It 'The Government'; Hilarity Ensues”

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21 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Judge apparently agreed

Or at least that’s what I assume from the line ‘That was probably enough to win (and he did win)’ in the source article.

Also, you missed out the line that explains the ‘Resistance’ bit, which I thought was pretty good.

Along these same lines, even the term “defense” does not sound very likeable. The whole idea of being defensive comes across to most people as suspicious. So to prevent the jury from being unfairly misled by this ancient English terminology, the opposition to the Plaintiff hereby names itself “the Resistance.”

Honestly I would love it if the judge had a sense of humor, and both granted the AG’s request, and the defense lawyer’s request, as the resulting ruling between ‘Captain Justice, Guardian of the Realm and Leader of the Resistance vs. General R’ would be the stuff of legendary court-room comedy, if for no other reason than the names in the ruling.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

Upon checking out Techdirt this morning, I don’t usually laugh at the absurdity of the articles posted on here and while I’m a very verbal person, when I read THIS article, I laughed so hard, I fell out of my chair, hard heart palpitations and Jesus fell from my roof because HE also found it hilarious.

Jesus told me that the lawyer was an idiot and that Justice was such a moron that he makes Prenda Law look like angels.

Aztecian says:

Take THAT, Perry Mason!

I’m in.

I take back all of the bad things I’ve ever said about courts and lawyers and all that stuff.

Today, Captain Justice! Tomorrow, Irony Man, Sometime next week or so, The World!

Next Summer, “The Adjourners!”

(and every damn bit of it should be copyrighted, trademarked, patented, and non-disclosed for ever and ever amen”

Richard (profile) says:

F E Smith

Ah a lawyer in the tradition of F E Smith

” Judge: Are you trying to show contempt for this court, Mr Smith?
Smith: No, My Lord. I am attempting to conceal it.

Judge: Have you ever heard of a saying by Bacon ? the great Bacon ? that youth and discretion are ill-wedded companions?
Smith: Yes, I have. And have you ever heard of a saying of Bacon ? the great Bacon ? that a much-talking judge is like an ill-tuned cymbal?

Smith (to witness): So, you were as drunk as a judge?
Judge (interjecting): You mean as drunk as a lord?
Smith: Yes, My Lord.

Master of the Rolls: Really, Mr Smith, do give this Court credit for some little intelligence.
Smith: That is the mistake I made in the Court below, My Lord.”

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:F._E._Smith,_1st_Earl_of_Birkenhead

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Substitutions

I have one to add to his list. I got this from an advertising class segment where we were learning about powerful words that either mean nothing or don’t mean what people think. This one stuck so hard that to this day when I hear it, my mind translates it automatically:

“Virtually” means “not in fact”

As in, for example, the old slogan “leaves your dishes virtually spotless.”

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