My maternal grandfather was a lawyer. When he and my grandmother had a little tiff, she would sometimes say, "Go tell your lies in court." They would soon make up, but a statement like that is perhaps an occupational hazard to any married lawyer.
A lawyer's reputation for fine analysis of words is well-deserved. The outcome of a case often depends on the precise meaning of a single word. No wonder lawyers are deeply interested in words. Almost all the staff members of some law offices are AWAD subscribers. Many lawyers are well-known novelists and authors of books on language usage.
This week we look at terms from the world of law.
[plural gravamens or gravamina (-VAM-uh-nuh)]
The essence or the most serious part of an accusation.
[From Latin gravamen (trouble, grievance), from gravare (to burden or to weigh upon).]
(fors ma-ZHOOR) noun
1. An unforeseeable and uncontrollable event (for example, a war or a strike) that exempts a party from a contract2. Superior force.
[From French, literally superior force.]
A method of dividing an estate in which each branch of the descendants of a deceased person receives an equal share.
[From Latin, literally "by roots" or "by stocks".]
A person summoned as a prospective juror.
[From Latin venire (to come), truncation of the term venire facias ("you should cause to come", directing a sheriff to summon people to serve as jurors) + man.]
(STAYR-ee di-SY-sis) noun
The legal principle of following precedents in deciding a case, the idea that future decisions of a court should follow the example set by the prior decisions.
[Latin for "let the decision stand".]