The Cracker Squire blog may be on the way of the Edsel and Oldsmobile. Its publisher cannot understand plain language.
You recall how a couple of days ago I wrote: "You know how things happen in America. They begin in California, then to New York, and then Main Street U.S.A."
Well, things have begun in California.
On Thanksgiving the ajc ran a very disturbing piece from the Los Angeles Times noting that -- hoping to make jury instructions in criminal cases more user-friendly -- the Judicial Council of California is rewriting them to replace legal jargon with common, recognizable phrases.
It seems that "the council," supposedly the policy-making arm of the California courts, approved new ''plain language'' instructions for civil cases last year, and those for criminal matters are expected to be approved next year.
I sure wish they had been accomodating enough for us civil attorneys here on the east coast to have reversed the process, that is, have done criminal instructions first. My law firm only does criminal cases when one of us are appointed in a federal case in the Southern District of Georgia, and I can assure you, it is not something we sign up for.
Anyway, I frankly I don't know if I can cope with what "the council" perceives as progress. And if I, an attorney, have trouble understanding the new mumbo jumbo, woe be the public, the non-lawyer types.
The article gives a before and after example (and the labels in bold are those of the author and not mine, I assure you):
Jargon: A witness who is willfully false in one material aspect of his or her testimony is to be distrusted in others. You may reject the whole testimony of a witness who willfully has testified falsely as to a material point, unless, from all the evidence, you believe the probability of truth favors his or her testimony in other particulars.
Plain language: If you decide that a witness deliberately lied about something important, you should consider not believing anything that witness says. Or, if you think the witness lied about some things but told the truth about others, you may simply accept the part that you think is true and ignore the rest.
P.S. For you lawyer-types:
Whereas you may have an interest in the aforesaid topic, you now therefore can go to this site and build said civil jury instructions within Word (sorry, no option for WordPerfect, the traditional wordprocessor for lawyers).