Judge: Legal jargon used for efficiency purposes

According to District Judge Doug Kirkley, legal jargon can be compared to one learning a whole new language.

Legal jargon can be confusing for those who aren't used to it, but court officials say there's a reason to it all.

District Judge Doug Kirkley said the language they use while handling court procedures is for efficiency purposes.

"Everything that we rule on or everything that we decide, even if it's a continuous, has to be put into the court file and these days it's now electronically inputed," said Kirkley.

The judge said the majority of legal matters are time sensitive and everyone who is charged with a crime has a right to a speedy trial.

"We need to do this within a certain period of time and lets say it's an application to revoke - once it's filed and that person is arraigned, that state has an obligation to put on the evidence. The judge makes sure that it's put on within 20 days and the defendant may not be ready to do that," he said.

Kirkley said the courts will make sure they are protecting one's constitutional rights and that everything has been done accordingly to ensure that person's liberty isn't taken away.

"It may be one line, but we've condensed a whole paragraph to just a line. It's not to try to trick anyone. It's that we try to do things efficiently because we need to make sure to document everything. And if we don't, then we could lose some right to compel them back," he said.

Students in law school begin their education with a legalese course and Kirkley said it's important for lawyers and judges to stay refreshed on legal jargon, as laws are changing or being developed daily.

"Every law school student starts with a class called Legal Research and Writing and that will deal with legalese, or legal jargon, and how to find cases or statutes which deal with legal jargon," Kirkley said. "It's a continuing learning experience because we use Latin, we use specific words that are defined in what is called the 'Black's Law Dictionary.'"

Black's Law Dictionary provides a pronunciation guide for many legal terms that are derived from a Latin root word.

Kirkley added that he's on a legal education committee for judges and they are always looking at news laws that are in the works.

"This word was used, which is an adverb, it's a legal term and it's 'Sine Die.' I had to go look it up and it's adjourning a meeting with no appointed date to resume. My point is, I'm learning these terms and it's a different language as you can tell," said Kirkley.

Take a look

To view the glossary of legal terms, visit https://www.uscourts.gov/glossary.

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