Authors

Marc D. Falkoff

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Maybe it would be best if judges left their dictionaries on the shelf. That’s the conclusion I reached after reading an Illinois court opinion last month, in which the decision turned on the dictionary definition of a commonplace word – “presence” – whose statutory meaning was in dispute. The construction eventually adopted by the court was reasonable enough. But by relying solely on a dictionary as authority, the court reflected a troubling trend nationwide. Increasingly, dictionaries are used to make the resolution of cases appear to be the product of common sense and unchallengeable authority, rather than of policy decisions made by judges.

Publication Date

10-24-2013

ISSN

0362-6148

Department

College of Law

Language

eng

Publisher

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Included in

Law Commons

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