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Interesting Legal Metaphors

Interesting Legal Metaphors

In the practice of law, an attorney will come across Latin phrases or arguments peppered with legalese and metaphors. It happens somewhat often. In addition to Latin phrases and other complex terminology a lawyer is required to read through, digest, and respond to, the practice of law will see common phrases and metaphors that have legal implications. Here are three metaphors that have legal meanings:

“Another bite at the apple”

The phrase “another bite at the apple” means counsel is merely attempting to make the same argument as he or she has previously made in the case. This often occurs when counsel has already argued the point and lost, and then continues to reassert the same argument. You will see this phrase a lot in conjunction with motions for reconsideration. A motion for reconsideration is filed when a party to the suit does not agree with the judge’s ruling and wants the judge to reconsider his or her ruling. The party opposing the motion for reconsideration will sometimes state that the opposing party is just attempting “another bite at the apple.” Simply put, “another bite at the apple” means counsel is not arguing anything new, counsel is just seeking another opportunity to argue his or her same point.

“Going fishing”

Next, the phrase “going fishing” is most frequently used during the discovery phase of litigation. “Going fishing” means counsel’s discovery request is not tailored to any specific topic and counsel is just throwing a request out in hopes of finding something material when receiving a response. The phrase is often used in discovery responses by counsel. Thus, when counsel receives a broad discovery request, he or she may respond that opposing counsel is simply “going fishing” for information.

“Fruit of the poisonous tree”

The phrase “fruit of the poisonous tree” is most commonly used in criminal proceedings rather than civil litigation. “Fruit of the poisonous tree” is when an original piece of evidence is gathered in an illegal manner, making subsequent evidence, which stems from the original piece of evidence, also “poisoned” or unlawful. With that stated, there are exceptions to the “fruit of the poisonous tree” rule that vary depending on the circumstances. Although normally referred to in a criminal context, the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine is a well-known legal metaphor.

Each of the above metaphors differs in context and meaning, but are common legal metaphors known amongst legal professionals.

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