Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Court Vocabulary 1

Court Vocab 1

1. Brief : Document listing facts, law pertinent to court case
2. Certiorari : Writ from higher court requesting lower court case records
3. Common Law : Based on court decisions, tradition rather than statutes
4. Contempt : Act harmful to authority, dignity, operations of a court
5. Continuance : Postponement or adjournment of trial until a later date
6. Cross-examine : To question a witness already questioned by opposite side
7. Demurrer : Plea that even if charges are true, they do not constitute a crime
8. Deposition : Statement made under oath by person unable to appear in court
9. Equity : System of justice applied to circumstances not covered by law
10. Estoppel : Restraining a person from contradicting previous testimony
11. Executor : Person named to carry out provision of a will
12. Extradition : Surrender of fugitive by one state to another for prosecution
13. Felony : Serious crimes punishable by death or imprisonment
14. Habeas Corpus : Ordering detained person to court to review legality of restraint
15. Homicide : Slaying or killing a human being
16. Indictment : True Bill by grand jury when sufficient evidence for trial exists
17. Injunction : Court order commanding some action or cessation of an action
18. Inquest : Inquiry held into cause of violent or suspicious death
19. Intestate : Death in which deceased did not leave a will
20. Judgment : Decision, orders or decrees resulting from court decisions
21. Jurisdiction : Extent of authority or control of a court
22. Lien : Claim or charge on property for payment of a debt
23. Mandamus : Order commanding public official to perform duties required by law

Sequence of Tenses

Sequence of Tenses
Armey said Johnson sold 3 ounces of cocaine Thursday evening to two undercover police officers.
Armey said Johnson had sold 3 ounces of cocaine Thursday evening to two undercover police officers.

The following is from Towards a Working Grammar for Journalists

In straight news writing, use the past tense for attribution.
The moment a word is spoken, it exists in the past. Present tense sounds stylish but requires skill in order to use it properly. Once you start in present tense, be consistent. Do not switch tenses:

  • The state is in serious trouble, Mr. Smith says.
  • Speaking to a public meeting last night, Mr. Smith said the ingredients were . . . 

  • The state is in serious trouble, Mr Smith said.
  • Speaking to a public meeting last night, Mr Smith said . . .

In reported speech, the verb said is the governing verb and, therefore, controls the tenses of any subordinate verbs.

In reported speech, when the verb said is in the past tense, the primary tenses of subordinate verbs must be changed to secondary tenses. Accordingly, present is changed to past, perfect to past perfect, future to conditional, and future perfect to conditional perfect. This is called following
the sequence of tenses. Thus:

  • He said he was old but energetic.
  • She said she had aged but she had not lost her energy.
  • He said he would go but he would be late.
  • She said she would have lost her patience by then.
  • He said he thought the war was immoral.

Some newspapers do not use the sequence of tenses, although it is grammatically correct. They take the position that, while attribution normally will be in the past tense, verbs within the attributed statement may well be in present tense. They would argue, for example, that someone’s
opinion, expressed to a reporter on a given day, continues to exist:

  • She said she thinks the war is immoral.

Documents, which continue to exist after a reporter reads them, should be cited in present tense, and, when possible, the use of the imprecise said should be avoided:

  • Court records show that Smith had been arrested twice before on assault charges.

The timeless phrase according to also may be used when writing about records.

  • According to the accident report, Smith was driving along Main Road when his car’s brakes failed.

Here is a good explanation of tense sequence:
Here is a quiz on Sequence of Tenses

This is a nice explanation and shows how some publications are more conservative about this than others from “After Deadline” – a regular column on NYT style questions http://topics.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/after-deadline/

Sequence of Tenses
Several readers were puzzled last week by my criticism of the grammar in this sentence:
On Wednesday, the city of Copenhagen said that Mr. Eliasson will create a bridge there, called Cirkelbroen …

I said it should be “would create,” and indeed, that fix was made for print editions. But some commenters disagreed, thinking that “would” is only appropriate to convey a conditional sense or to indicate uncertainty.

The Times’s style, unlike that of some news organizations, is to adhere to the formal rules on tense sequences. So, for example, a verb that is present tense in a direct quotation shifts to past tense in an indirect quotation after a past-tense verb: I am going to the store becomes He said he was going to the store, not He said he is going to the store.

In such constructions, the future-tense “will” becomes “would” after a past-tense verb. In these cases, “would” is not acting as a conditional (He would go to the store if he needed something) but simply as the past-tense form of “will.”

Game Film Week 4

Parentheses vs. Brackets
This came up in class. You normally use parentheses (99.999% of the time) when you are inserting info.  You would use a bracket (and this is rare [but it could happen]) when you want to insert a parentheses inside a parentheses.

Word Usage
John James Johnson, 27, died instantly,
John James Johnson, 27, was killed instantly,
I like to say that all words carry freight – some more than others. In this case – do you see how “was killed” could imply that someone killed him – which is why I would suggest the much more neutral “died.”

Punctuation and Pronoun Agreement and Capitalization
Armey would not speculate on the reason for Johnson’s death and the Police Department said they would refer any questions to the District Attorney. think about it

Essential or Non-Essential
An accused drug dealer, who had just been arrested and handcuffed by police, fell from the 10th-floor balcony of his hotel room Friday morning.  The writer here is saying that this clause is nonessential – which can be argued is true. But this is one of those areas where the very relevance of this info is so important to the lede and story that I would make it essential and remove the commas.

Support for Lead or Hed
A man jumped to his death from the 10th floor balcony of his hotel room early Friday morning after being arrested and handcuffed by the police.  Did he jump? With headlines and leads we always need to ensure the text of story supports the hed or lede.

Which is correct?
1.   a 3-foot wide patio
2.   a 3-foot-wide patio
3.   a 3-feet wide patio
4.   a 3-feet-wide patio
5.   a 3 foot wide patio
6.   a 3 foot wide patio

AP Style
Which is correct?
1.   Johnson had sold 3 ounces of cocaine
2.   Johnson had sold 3 ozs. of cocaine
3.   Johnson had sold three ozs. of cocaine
4.   Johnson had sold three ounces of cocaine

See link on Sequence of Tenses

Parentheses vs. Brackets

You normally use parentheses (99.999% of the time) when you are inserting info. You would use a bracket (and this is rare [but it could happen]) when you want to insert a parentheses inside a parentheses.