What is POFP?

Why do lawyers refer to long documents as briefs and
18-year olds as infants? Why do they use so much Latin when so few of their
clients are Ancient Romans? Is it a conspiracy?

Party of the First Part has the answers! Check out the Website for the
Legalese Hall of Shame; a glossary of legal words linked to Adam Freedman's
columns; tips on writing legal documents in plain English; and more!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Tittle Tattle

Who knew that gossip used to be a legal term?

In the early 20th Century, a number of states and cities passed anti-gossip statutes, according to the Wall Street Journal. Wisconsin and Kentucky outlawed gossip, and people were duly arrested and tried for the crime. In 1923, a Justice of the Peace in Brawley, California fined a woman for gossiping, and issued the following proclamation:
Ye people of the township of Brawley will no longer tolerate ye gossips who go about spreading ill-thought and ill-feeling.

Which is a good example of archaic usage in the law, although one suspects (hopes?) the JP was being ironic with his use of "ye."