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A term quoted in yesterday's discussion leads to our new theme for the week.

in flagrante delicto – caught red-handed, in the act of committing a misdeed (more frequently applied to being caught in the midst of sex, or in other embarrassing but non-criminal situations)
[Latin, "while the crime is blazing"]

Here are three recent quotes, including for balance one which does not involve sex. The first quote, interestingly, uses our term to mean "having sex" rather than "caught having sex".
    The routine of the English 5 o'clock tea party is believed to have been introduced to Britain by the Portuguese wife of King Charles II, Catherine of Braganza. Despite official reports that it was because she simply liked a pick-me-up refreshment, a local tells me it was to keep track of her horny husband. Catherine would gather her ladies-in-waiting together over a cuppa; whoever wasn't there was, she presumed, in flagrante delicto with the king.
    – WA today (Australia), March 15, 2009

    There was a time, growing up, when getting in flagrante delicto by your parents was quite possibly the most embarrassing thing imaginable. For those of us of a certain age, however, there is now a far more terrifying prospect: getting caught in the act by one of your grown-up children.
    – Daily Mail, May 15, 2009

    [in European football] At the moment, an offender caught in flagrante delicto – that is, by a referee in the very moment of perpetration – is punished with a caution, while those charged in retrospect, through a review of video evidence, are given a suspension that equates to a red card.
    – Scotsman, Sept 5, 2009
 
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Two principles for construing unclear language. The later rule is a sub-case of the former. Each term is obscure, but the later is somewhat less so.

noscitur a sociis [Latin, "it is known by its associates"] – principle that unclear/ambiguous wording should be determined by considering the words with which it is associated in the context

ejusdem generis [Latin, "of the same kind"] – principle that in a list with specific items plus a catch-all clause, the catch-all applies only to items like the specifics
[E.g., in a law covering "automobiles, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and other vehicles", the specifics imply that the term "other vehicles" does not include airplanes or bicycles; it is limited to powered land transport]
    The question in this case is whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission possesses the legal authority to require federal agencies to pay compensatory damages when they discriminate in employment. §717(b) provides that "the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shall have authority to enforce through appropriate remedies, including reinstatement or hiring of employees with or without back pay." The interpretive canons of noscitur a sociis and ejusdem generis suggest the appropriate remedies authorized by §717(b) are remedies of the same nature as reinstatement, hiring, and backpay -- i.e., equitable remedies [but not damages].
    – US Supreme Court, West v. Gibson (1999) (Court opinion and dissenting opinion; ellipsis omitted)

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de minimis – [Latin, "not enough to be considered"] – so minor as to be disregard
Often referring to the principle, "De minimis non curat lex" ("The law does not concern itself with trifles," or, more colloquially, "We don't sweat the small stuff.")
    The jury also awarded $5,000,000 in punitive damages against Jay. [H]owever, the trial court reduced the punitive damages awards to $1 each. Jay now appeals the $2 punitive damages award against him. We will not resolve an appeal from such a de minimis award.
    – Wisconsin Court of Appeals, Northern Air Services v. Link (2009)

    An effeminate lawyer named Rex
    Had a minuscule organ of sex.
    When charged with exposure,
    He pled, with composure,
    "De minimis non curat lex."
 
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ex parte – [Latin, "from a side"] 1. law: a. of a hearing: with one side present, but the other side absent (as in an emergency) b. of a communication: between a lawyer and the opposing party, bypassing the latter's lawyer (almost always improper)
2. from a one-sided or partisan point of view
    [A]n elderly person who has been the victim of abuse may petition the circuit court for relief if the person is in immediate and present danger of further abuse from the abuser. [T]he circuit court shall hold an ex parte hearing in person or by telephone on the day the petition is filed or on the following judicial day.
    – Oregon Statutes, ch. 124 §§124.010, 124.020 (ellipses omitted)
 
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    Even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked.
    – attributed to U.S. jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes
In a nutshell, that is the difference between crime and an accident. It's a matter of intent.

mens rea – [Latin, "guilty mind"] criminal intent
[Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea; "The act does not make a person guilty unless the mind be also guilty".]

Usually but not always, an injurious act is a crime only if injury was intended. Various crimes require various degrees of "intent": was the act taken in order to injure (purposefully)? or for other reasons, but knowing that it would injure (knowingly)? or knowing that it might well injure (recklessly)?
    Sarah was defending in a shoplifting case. Her client was an old lady who had been stopped by a store detective outside a small supermarket. Inside her shopping bag was a packet of bacon, which had not been paid for. Also inside the shopping bag were eggs, milk and bread, all of which had been paid for. Sarah's client claimed that she had taken the bacon by mistake, in a fit of absent-mindedness. The supermarket, however disagreed.
    . . .It was the prosecution's case that the bacon had been found concealed underneath the old lady's library book, this being clear evidence of mens rea in a deliberate, malicious and diabolically cunning criminal act in direct contravention of the Theft Act of 1968.
    – Megan Stark, A Game of Proof‎

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per stirpes – [Latin, "by stems"; used to specify how to distribute a deceased person's estate] the share of any deceased recipient to be subdivided equally among his/her children

For example, rich old Jack dies with a three-branched family tree: sons Abe, Bob, and Carl – all three of whom predeceased Jack, leaving him with seven grandchildren, very much alive (Abe's child, Bob's twins, and Carl's quadruplets).

How should Jack's estate be divided? If Jack willed it in equal shares to his sons and their descendants per stirpes, that mean to treat each "branch" equally: ⅓ to Abe's child, ⅓ to split between Bob's twins (one-sixth each), and ⅓ to split among Carl's quads (one-twelfth each).

If instead Jack willed "… and their descendants per capita", it means to treat the seven grandchildren equally, one-seventh to each.
 
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And if Jack had any brains he would already have spent half of his estate on wine and women and then squandered the remainder.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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