is sometimes different in a court proceeding, in the English/American legal system. Scroll down to item number 3 here. Just to set the record straight.

I’m no defender of adultery, OR of “presidential kneepads” or thong-flashing. But the adversarial legal system has its good points, and I won’t have it lied about, or its use. This is why some news organizations have legal consultants, or even correspondents who are lawyers: everything that happens in a courtroom is important, and a layperson as reporter or commentator might miss something, or even deliberately misrepresent it, as clearly happened in the case of President Clinton’s testimony. Most of us never heard, or had explained to us, the background to the questions he was asked under oath about “sexual relations”: each of us just used our own definitions, which may or may not have been legally relevant to the particular case as it developed.

Unnecessary legalese is a blight on our language and culture. But sometimes it is necessary, or at least is present and needs to be realized when it is. The law and court proceedings have their specialized uses of terminology, just like any other specialized field from trash collection to theology.

(*-No pun intended!)