What free speach is in a name?

LawyerCartoonEspecially for attorneys, government officials and staff who read Tulsa Today, we share a special bit from TechDirt.com that could well win our legal humor award for the year.  It is apparently true that a government lawyer asked a court to bar the opposition from referring to them as “the government.”

TechDirt presents it from the “captian-justice department” to best set a tone of pure irony.

TechDirt continues:

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.

StupidChallengeIt 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.

Click here for more on this story at TechDirt.com.

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