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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
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columns; tips on writing legal documents in plain English; and more!

Sunday, April 6, 2008


And I think we all know what that means.

Or do we? Maryland's Court of Special Appeals recently had to consider the question of whether the term "What's up?" -- when uttered by a policeman -- constitutes a greeting, or an interrogation. The issue arose in the criminal trial of one Maurice Prioleau. Shortly after Mr. Prioleau was arrested for drug possession, a Baltimore cop addressed him by saying "What's up, Maurice?" -- to which Mr. Prioleau gave an incriminating response.

Prioleau's lawyers argued that "what's up?" amounts to a police interrogation and, therefore, that Maurice should have been given a Miranda warning before he answered. Granted, the question mark sure makes it look interrogatory, but the court sided with police, stating:

"The phrase 'what's up?' is commonly used as a greeting, especially, as the State
points out, among young people."


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