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!



Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Sea Sponge Defense


This story's over a year old, but just came to my attention.


Last year, the San Franciso Recorder reported on a Santa Cruz attorney who -- in his haste to file an appellate brief -- did a quick spell check search-and-replace to correct mis-spelled words. Unfortunately, spell check did not recognize the Latin term sua sponte ("voluntarily") and replaced it with the nearest substitute: sea sponge. While sua sponte is a well-known term used to describe action that a court may take of its own accord, this brief argued that "It is well settled that a trial court must instruct sea sponge on any defense, including a mistake of fact defense." The judges soaked it up.

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