‘Let’s kill all the lawyers’

I followed the EthicalEsq? weblog for a few weeks until it unfortunately closed, for health reasons, on October 11th, after only 19 weeks in existence. However, the archives are still there and still worth reading.

The last-but-two entry was on the popular quotation ‘Let’s kill all the lawyers’ and about respect for lawyers in general.

It is argued by lawyers in the USA that this quote is taken out of context and is really pro-lawyers – here is Howard Troxler of the St. Petersburg Times (link from EthicalEsq?):

bq. Lastly, for the record, so lawyers will quit accusing me of being ignorant, I am perfectly aware of the context of the original “kill the lawyers” quote. It comes from Shakespeare (2 Henry VI, Act IV, Scene 2), in which there is a conspiracy to establish a dictatorship.
The plotters are boasting about how they will make everybody bow down to them. That is when one of the conspirators chimes in, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” His goal was to destroy the law, so that the citizens would have no legal protection. I admit this freely.

However, EthicalEsq? says, this is mistaken: history and Shakespeare saw the lawyers in this case as protecting a corrupt establishment.

ATA coverage on U.S. media

The American Translators Association held its annual conference at Phoenix, Arizona two weeks ago. Large numbers of photographs are available at the ATA site.

(LATER NOTE: the photographs are of the Atlanta conference in 2002 – sorry about that)

There was also media coverage, in particular on the topic of the U.S. government’s new National Virtual Translation Center (apparently the translators are real). The director of the NVTC, Everette Jordan, gave a keynote address on the subject at the conference. Video and audio clips are available at www.atanet.org/media. Downloading is apparently recommended. To quote Kevin Hendzel on Compuserve:


1. TV interview with ATA President Tom West on Fox News TV (national) ednesday November 5.
2. TV interview with ATA PR Committee Co-Chair Kevin Hendzel, NBC TV (Phoenix) Thursday November 6.
3. TV coverage with short comments by Kevin Hendzel and Everette Jordan, including conference shots, ABC and CBS TV (Phoenix).
4. TV interview with Everette Jordan, CNN Live, Sunday morning November 8 (Phoenix).
5. TV coverage with short comments by Kevin Hendzel and Everette Jordan, CNN Headline News national and international (rebroadcast all Sunday evening.)
6. TV coverage on local CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox affiliates in 21 national markets taken from CNN coverage.



1. Radio interview on NPR Radio Marketplace (national) on Friday November 7 with Kevin Hendzel.
2. Radio interview on Radio America (national) on Saturday November 8 with Kevin Hendzel.
3. Radio coverage of conference, quotes by Everette Jordan on KFNN, KFYI and KTAR radio (Phoenix).

Abraham Lincoln didn’t go to law school

In It was good enough for Abraham Lincoln, excited utterances mentions the system whereby Americans in seven states can still become lawyers without attending law school. It’s usually called ‘reading the law’.

bq. Today, there are seven states (Vermont, New York, Washington, Virginia, California, Maine, and Wyoming) that still allow you to earn a law degree the ‘old fashioned way’—through law office study followed by passing the bar exam.

It reminds me of the system in England and Wales (now gone, I think) where you could go straight from school at the age of 18, spend five years as a trainee and then do the final exams. excited utterances also refers to the medieval system whereby barristers were ‘apprentices’ at the Inns of Court.

There is a link to an article by G. Jeffrey MacDonald in the Christian Science Monitor. The system has special interest in view of the huge cost of law school:

bq. Pressures notwithstanding, states that have preserved the “self-made lawyer” path made famous by Abraham Lincoln are standing firm in their determination to make the profession an accessible option for those daunted by the price tag for law school, which often exceeds $100,000 for three years. What’s more, the old-fashioned approach seems to open doors to low-paying but rewarding career paths that tend to end, even for idealistic graduates, as soon as the law-school loans come due.

There is interesting information on why these states in particular have kept the old system, and a list of famous American lawyers who did not go to law school.

Guardian and Observer digital editions (beta)

Ben Hammersley reports that the Guardian and Observer digital editions are out. You have to register to read them, but in beta they are free. There is an introductory offer so that to take the paid Guardian for one month will cost only £7. The digital editions contain all the adverts, page layouts and photographs of the real thing.
I remember the Standard in Austria doing this some time ago. Does it mean that the non-digital editions will remain free online? I like being able to see several papers.

Hammersley also reports that the Times is going to have a tabloid edition, just for London – easier to read on the tube.

The Queen cannot sue in her own courts

An article in the Independent is entitled ‘Palace wins gag against ‘Mirror’ over royal footman’ (By Robert Verkaik Legal Affairs)
The widely reported Daily Mirror reporter who got himself employed as a footman at Buckingham Palace and showed that a terrorist could have had access to all the rooms also took photographs of some of the private rooms. These were published online. It’s fascinating to see what kind of furnishings the royal family choose. However, it wasn’t clear that these photographs served an important anti-terrorist purpose.

Now the Queen has won a temporary injunction till next Monday, forbidding the Mirror to publish further such revelations.

bq. Photographs published yesterday and on Wednesday showed the private living quarters of senior members of the Royal Family, including the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. One pictured the Queen’s breakfast table shortly after it had been set by palace servants while another was of the Duke of York’s bachelor apartment.

Curses, I didn’t see them all. Missed the Queen’s breakfast table. I will have to imagine it. Just a boiled egg, I should think, maybe porridge and toast? No kippers.

bq. The Queen, who cannot bring proceedings in her own court, instructed Lord Goldsmith to ask the judge to prevent further intrusions into the daily lives of the Royal Family. That move is a rare legal procedure, last used in 1990 against another servant.

Of course the Queen can’t sue or be sued. But this is presumably just as good. She is likely to win the case, apparently. In England, proceedings in criminal courts are in the Queen’s name, and the royal court of arms is displayed in court, rather than the flag (USA) or a cross (Germany).

BBC News discussed this topic a year ago. Article on The Queen and the Law.

Later note: caches are good things. What, cereal in Tupperware containers?

Translating Miranda warnings

The ABA Journal had an article on Miranda warnings online recently. The U.S. Supreme Court will be dealing with four cases this autumn where Miranda warnings are involved.

bq. This term the court will decide whether police may intentionally question a suspect without a warning of his or her rights and then use the answers, including physical evidence revealed, in court against the suspect.

bq. Underlying those issues is the question of whether Miranda warnings represent a true right for the individual and a red light for police. Or, are the warnings just a caution sign, which may go unheeded by both the suspect and the police?

It quotes the text of the warning:

bq. Before we ask you any questions, you must understand your rights.You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions and to have him with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.
If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time. You also have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to a lawyer.
Do you understand these rights?

(There was a 1966 case, Miranda v. Arizona, where the U.S. Supreme Court established these rights: the right to remaind silent, to have an attorney present, and to have an attorney appointed if the suspect is poor – an arresting officer must advise the person being arrested – I quote Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law).

Now Taccuino di Traduzione has linked to a newspaper article in the Hollister Free Lance on the problems of getting the warning translated for non-English-speaking suspects.

If the warning is not understood properly, there can be problems with the acceptance of evidence in court.

It reminds me that some years ago a survey found that the police caution in England, the equivalent of Miranda warnings, was found to be incomprehensible to the majority of the population. It was somewhat simplified then.

The Oxford Dictionary of Law gives the wording of the English caution:

bq. You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.

Of course, the reduction of the right of silence is rather shameful and came in a few years ago.

At the 1999 conference of the IAFL, the International Association of Forensic Linguistics, there was a symposium on the caution. Here is the abstsract of the contribution by Roger Shuy, of Georgetown University, Washington DC:

bq. The Role of Forensic Linguistics in the Rise and Decline of Miranda Warnings in the United States
Beginning with a description of the historical development of Miranda Warnings in 1966, this paper will address the resulting controversies about how the Miranda vs. Arizona Supreme Court ruling should be interpreted and carried out. It is not surprising to linguists, who know that language is central to law on virtually all levels, that these disputes are linguistic ones. In the case of Miranda, most salient are the language of the police as well as the warning itself, the language context in which the warning is given, and the language contributions of the suspect, all of which combine to make meaning in a holistic manner. From its very beginning, Miranda has placed unwanted burdens on law enforcement and it is perhaps natural that the past three decades display many instances of how it is being subverted, if not ignored. Since many of the efforts to oppose, change, or abandon Miranda contain arguments which are clearly within the domain of linguistic analysis, this paper argues for linguists to add their expertise to the debate.

German words of the year / Wort des Jahres auch in der Schweiz

Bruno Aeschbacher reports, on the swisstrans list (Yahoo) that for the first time, Switzerland is voting on a work of the year.
A website lets Swiss vote, and it also has an archive of words of the year in the past, in Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein. Actually, there is Wort des Jahres (word of the year) and Unwort des Jahres (antiword of the year), and it’s hard to tell the difference. I suppose they are voted on for different bodies. Some words are puzzling – what was the Senfverbot (mustard ban) in Liechtenstein in 2002? The site itself explains: since the football stadium in Vaduz was built, no mustard was supplied with the grilled sausages, and a newspaper used the headline, ‘Wann fällt das Senfverbot, Herr Bürgermeister?’ (When will the mustard ban be lifted, Mr Mayor?) Apparently the reason was to reduce the cleaning effort.

German Internet competition

Handakte WebLAWg also reports on a recent competition for German Internet projects. One of the three winners was a translation company, www.24translate.de. At the time this was first announced, there was some discussion of it on the pt Yahoo list. Carob (Not a Blog) reported it too (scroll down to the heading ‘German Internet Award’ (date is not given). But I didn’t get round to it. I do agree with his last point too, that the market is like that.

Translators were mystified as to what was new or exciting about the website. Probably the award was given for the services themselves, which also don’t appear to be unique. I’ll quote a chunk of Robin’s Carob report – it was some time ago. Mind you, I don’t know what approach these non-blogs take to attributed copying…

bq. There is talk about this award being an insult to freelance translators, as 24translate appear to focus on rapid turnaround, low prices and, patently most egregious of all, ‘for information only’ quality.

bq. For example, they are cited as having prices that suggest their translators earn a pittance, and as having a clause in their standard terms excluding any warranty that their translations will permit of or be suited to their intended purpose (daß die jeweilige Übersetzung für den Verwendungszweck des Auftraggebers zulässig und geeignet ist).

bq. Personally, I don’t see a problem here, or at least, not a new one. There is a market for cheap, fast translations, and if translation users wish to buy from someone in that market, fine — as long as they know what they are getting. In other words, it comes down to us: to educate our customers, and to sell on quality rather than price.

Bayern’s new bank

It’s been really noisy here all day, with music and a loudspeaker droning on. I had to go out and what did I see? A tent and stand labelled Bayern’s new bank (at first I thought it meant Bavaria’s new bank).


This is the Hypovereinsbank offering a savings bank card with interest rates linked to the performance of the FC Bayern football team. With every tenth home goal in the Bundesliga, the interest rate rises by 0.1% until the end of the season, and if the team win the cup, as it were, you will get 5% Zinsaufschlag (interest markup?) in the calendar month following the win.

I just hope the people who say the children outside are loud in summer make a few complaints about this din!

bq. Die Bayern gehen auf Torejagd und Sie profitieren davon
Mit der FC Bayern SparKarte freuen Sie sich über alle Heimtreffer der Bayern doppelt. Der Zinssatz steigt mit jedem 10. Bundesliga-Heimtor um 0,1% p.a. bis zum Saisonende.
Und wenn die Bayern zum 19. Mal Deutscher Meister werden, bekommen Sie 5% p.a. Zinsaufschlag im nächsten Kalendermonat nach der Meisterschaft.