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Captain Justice: Epic legal trolling reply to govt’s motion to ban the word ‘government’

Nov 03, 20134 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSecurity

A Tennessee prosecutor, the government, filed a motion to ban the words "the government" from trial, so the defense attorney shot down the First Amendment violation before indulging in some epic legal trolling.

Do the words “the government” bring something derogatory to mind? Yes, according to the Assistant District Attorney General of Tennessee who filed a motion [pdf] to ban the State’s attorney from referring to her as “the government” during a trial. That brings us to something too good not to share, the brilliant, funny and trolling reply filed by defense attorney Drew Justice.

Perhaps “the government” is unaware of the First Amendment? Justice immediately shot down the government’s citation-free argument:

The government has moved to ban the word “government.” The State of Tennessee offers precisely zero legal authority for its rather nitpicky position, and the defense can find none. The Plaintiff has failed to carry its burden on this motion. Moreover, the Plaintiff’s proposed ban on speech would violate the First Amendment. The motion should be denied.

Then Justice did some creative legal trolling:

Should this Court disagree, and feel inclined to let the parties basically pick their own designations and ban words, then the defense has a few additional suggestions for amending the speech code. First, the Defendant no longer wants to be called “the Defendant.” This rather archaic term of art, obviously has a fairly negative connotation. It unfairly demeans, and dehumanizes Mr. Donald Powell.

The word “defendant” should be banned. At trial, Mr. Powell hereby demands he be addressed only by his full name, preceded by the title “Mister.” Alternatively, he may be called simply “the Citizen Accused.” This latter title sounds more respectable than the criminal “Defendant.” The designation “That innocent man” would also be acceptable.

On a roll, Justice continued:

Moreover, defense counsel does not wish to be referred to as a “lawyer,” or a “defense attorney.” Those terms are substantially more prejudicial than probative. See Tenn. R. Evid. 403. Rather, counsel for the Citizen Accused should be referred to primarily as the “Defender of the Innocent.” This title seems particularly appropriate, because every Citizen Accused is presumed innocent. Alternatively, counsel would also accept the designation “Guardian of the Realm.”

Further, the Citizen Accused humbly requests an appropriate military title for his own representative, to match that of the opposing counsel. Whenever addressed by name, the name “Captain Justice” will be appropriate. While less impressive than “General,” still, the more humble term seems suitable. After all, the Captain represents only a Citizen Accused, whereas the General represents an entire State.

Along these same lines, even the term “defense” does not sound very likeable. The whole idea of being defensive comes across to most people as suspicious. So to prevent the jury from being unfairly misled by this ancient English terminology, the opposition to the Plaintiff hereby names itself “the Resistance.”

Justice concluded:

WHEREFORE, Captain Justice, Guardian of the Realm and Leader of the Resistance, primarily asks that the Court deny the State’s motion, as lacking legal basis. Alternatively, the Citizen Accused moves for an order in limine modifying the speech code as aforementioned, and requiring any other euphemisms and feel-good terms as the Court finds appropriate.

After the court denied the government’s motion, Assistant District Attorney General Tammy Rettig couldn’t be reached for comment. However, her boss, Williamson County District Attorney Kim Helper, told USA Today, “We’re a little disappointed at the response that talked about ‘Captain Justice, Defender of the Realm,’ From my perspective, it seemed a little bit — I don’t know what the right word would be. The response did not appear to be in good faith.”

After learning about all the government-sponsored surveillance, do the words “the government” imply an insult? When not signed into Google, but running a search, autocomplete suggested:

The government autocomplete, Google results

If autocomplete could be considered the general consensus, then let’s look at Bing and Google’s autocomplete suggestions for “the government is.”

Bing and Google autocomplete results for the government is

Thank you, Captain Justice, Guardian of the Realm and Leader of the Resistance, for protecting the First Amendment with your smile-inducing and entertaining motion. Who says lawyers don’t have a sense of humor?

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.