In what’s probably the most bizarre motion I’ve seen in quite some time, the prosecution in a criminal case in Tennessee has moved to prevent the defense from using the words “the government” during trial.
Perhaps they realize the dim view that many citizens hold of “the government” these days, while failing to recognize that even when you put lipstick on a pig (or, in this case, the government), it remains a pig.
The defense attorney (aptly named Drew Justice) responded with what is without a doubt the most entertaining filing in recent memory. You can read the whole thing here, but Mr. Justice ends with the reasonable proposition that if the government gets to determine what it is called, shouldn’t the Defendant?
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 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.
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.”
I could get used to “Defender of the Innocent.”