Statutory Citations in Newspapers: Why Not?

Medicine and Law rather more closely resemble illnesses in US society and certain others, than remedies. As controlling things approaching citizens’ access to life and liberty, and on a lesser level health and property, it is very easy for the practitioners within the reigning professions to rule with iron hands, whatever the form of government those citizens impose upon themselves. In fact, it appears that, in more democratic nations, physicians and attorneys at law merely usurp the power that is decreaseded in the heads of state therein – leaving such other citizens as are not in a position to wield wealth, really in little better a situation than they’d be in in more totalitarian regimes.

Law and medicine, as known today, at least in the US, are much more word-centered than are other pursuits, short of those of full-time authorship and journalism. As tossed between professionals with inordinate power and persons of low power and tendencies toward mob emotionalism, words can be the work of the devil. Let us drop medicine at this juncture and treat only of one aspect of law, in which this claim of mine is well illustrated – and ask the above titular question here.

All professionals love to try to make their work esoteric from the masses, for reasons of ego, income and whatever else; but law, by nature, once it should become an inhouse thing, no longer can serve its social function – because the public must know the law to be responsible citizens, and only in such case can the law work to the society as a whole’s advantage. Thus all the words or other designations of the law, presumed to be a set of codes by convention of the society as a whole, must be directly understandable by the public in theirterms, albeit divorced from the tendency of the simpler portion of the public to let words drift along with not necessarily appropriate emotions.

Avoiding the issue of the use of common English in the law (with which the English appear to be more compliant today than are North Americans), let’s center on the interface of law and the public as it occurs in newspapers. I have asked the title question here of journalists but have not yet done so of lawyers.

Journalists consistently spout that the public can’t handle numbers; but today, popular society is inundated with numerical specifications of computers and many other devices. It is, for reporters, at least, I conclude, too much of a hassle for them to relate to legal codes. So journalists ramble on in reporting crimes and other legal matters with rubbery words, in the absence of code citations, without our being able to tell, sometimes, very much at all what some quarrel between an individual and society is really about, or maybe just a quarrel between that person and law enforcement. Words like ‘assault’, ‘molest’, ‘violence’, ‘serious’, ‘deadly weapon’, etc. have become almost meaningless these days. No doubt attorneys like it that way. The more confusion, the more jobs attorneys can find to support themselves. I do know that politicians just love it that way, because they can get elected almost solely on screaming with such words about how they will, if elected, get new laws passed killing all misdemeanants six ways at once for breathing second-hand weed or whatever, while having nothing intelligent to say about preventing actual damage to the public or hanging government together more efficiently. And every time significant crimes or civil suits are reported in newspapers, knee-jerk bills are composed by simple-minded legislative clerks and never made consistent with the many other related laws, until decades after they’re passed into law – at which time all kinds of such cycles are overlapping. Of course, again, this in no way hurts the legal profession. . .but it does cause all the rubber words to bounce around through further iterations, until law, as applied in the US at least becomes nothing but a means of support for attorneys, judges, police agencies, and the vast array of support personnel in their organizations. . .while nobody knows what the laws are, and less and less people care – not the least of which are attorneys at law. And law libraries split their sides with the bleached carcasses of our continent’s once extensive forestlands.

So, what say attorneys and others here about the nationwide, at least US, taboo on pinning down in print what exact federal, state or local codes are being charged, or are officially cited as applicable to any given dispute reported in a news article? Often, the only vernacular verbal descriptions leave one without even knowing whether a charge is an infraction or a capital offense.

Ray

I got lost after ‘decreasded’. Great post, though.

Heehee, I misspelled his misspelling! No more trolling for me tonight.

Oh, well, two wrongs make a right, don’t they? But then my wrong only resulted from my trying to make my post “righter” by changing that word. . .but forgetting that I had left the past-tense ending there and didn’t need a new one. (Shoulda used numbers, I guess. :wink: )

Ray

Hey, why do posts previous to my last say “1:XX am CDT”, but then my last, posted only a few minutes later, say “2:XX am CDT (12:XX am PDT)”?

Ray

Erm, I’m not sure what exactly the question was anymore, great post though. If you are asking on opinions as to why offenses are not described exactly by the press, I’d say that it is exactly because most people don’t understand the minutae of the law, the difference between second degree murder and manslaughter for instance, and more to the point, most people don’t care that much.

I know that personally I’m fine with hearing on the news that somebody has been shot without knowing exactly what the technical nature of the crime that the perp is going to be charged with is. However I really don’t like the dumbing down of the media, assuming that everybody watchin is stupid and that things need to be made black and white before Joe Public will be able to understand, which leads to a very quick polarisation of opinion on the issues of the day, making it all the easier for politicians to make capital with soundbites and knee-jerk legislation, rather than real solutions.

Have I posted an answer to totally the wrong question here?


It only hurts when I laugh.

The Illuminati must be screwing with the clock again.

I think you’re looking for a complicated answer to a simple question. I’ve worked in print media for many years, some of the best as a police reporter for a major newspaper, and I can tell you that we didn’t provide the specifics you want for two reasons: a)most people don’t care. b)most readers would not understand.
Like or it or not, newspapers are products that have to cater to their readership. If we wrote a crime story that cited the legal statutes, Joe “Give Me the Sports Page” Reader would not read past the first paragraph.
And for the record, there’s more attention to those specifics than you may notice. While the typical newspaper crime story does not cite a specific statute, it damn sure better get the charge right. When someone shoots someone else, the writer is not free to just cavalierly say the assailant is charged with “murder” or even “killing Mr. Smith” because that’s the logical assumption when the victim dies. If he was charged with manslaughter, or assault, or whatever other charge is possible, the writer has to get it right even if there’s no citation of specific laws and legal minutia.
So, in effect, the writer is telling you exactly what statute the person is charged with violating. The article may say “murder” instead of citing the legal banalities, but they also say “Wal-Mart” instead of “the retail entity incorporated under the name Wal-Mart Corporation of the Universe, as registered with the SEC as a 10-SP1 multilateral corporation, blah, blah, blah…”
– Greg, Atlanta

Consider this one:

Sec. 53-37a. Deprivation of a person’s civil rights by person wearing mask or hood: Class D felony.

Any person who, with the intent to subject, or cause to be subjected, any other person to the deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities, secured or protected by the constitution or laws of this state or of the United States, on account of religion, national origin, alienage, color, race, sex, blindness or physical disability, violates the provisions of section 46a-58 while wearing a mask, hood or other device designed to conceal the identity of such person shall be guilty of a class D felony.
(P.A. 82-14, S. 1, 2.) [Connecticut]

So, if a guy burns a cross in someone else’s front lawn, do you really want to see the press say, “Mr. John Wayne Flannel of Snipsic, CT was charged by local police of violating Section 46a-58 while wearing a mask, under Section 53-37a of the Connecticut Criminal Code,” or do you want to hear them say, “racially motivated hate crime?”

Personally, I’d like to say, “they busted another damned Tri-Kap in Snipsic. How did these assholes get so far north?” But that’s why I’m not of the press.

Let’s not forget space considerations, either. Newspapers drop serial commas to save space, so they aren’t likely to cite the actual charge when there’s a shorter designation.

OK, now here in this thread we exhibit exactly some of the typical knee-jerk and ulteriorly slanted stuff that makes up this country. My OP was overly long and careful to state my exact complaint (with, OK, maybe a little baggage also), and yet these posts, for the most part, just set out stereotypical knee-jerk opposing stances, not to the specific content of my post, but rather to some little categorical construction already in their heads that basically aligns to my subject matter. Greg and Moony, however, start clicking a little into a reasonable gear at about the middle of their posts.

Granted that I might be over-emotional to some intermediate violent crimes, were I a victim or close to a victim of one; however, I think, even before the US poluted Boston Harbor by dumping that tea in it and decided to set up its own shop, there was a fairly strong thrust in England along the lines that “the punishment should fit the crime,” i.e., that the system overall works better if the system maintains a goodly proportionality to criminal charges and a reasonable distinction between the gross natures of the acts charged, when it comes to determining punishments or other resolutions of or procedures in cases – and keeps descriptive general-usage words, and whatever sort of designations are used in regard to the cases they describe in bureaucratic cataloguing schemes, to the level and point of their factual natures.

I live in CA-US. I don’t know where the responders to my post live, except, from his monicker, I assume Greg lives in GA. There is a considerable range in the style of writing criminal and civil codes, the charging crimes, proceding in courts on both criminal and civil cases, meting out punishments, and writing up any of these in newpapers – in the various areas and states of the US.

Many CA-US newspapers don’t meet the reporting standards of some newspapers in other parts of the country. I mostly read the SF Chronicle, which I believe to be rather intermediate in standards. The rest in northern CA, except for the Sacramento Bee, seem to be of lower quality in reporting standards. California legal codes have mostly lost such archaic wordings as are still found in New England codes, but codes copied from other states have been politically kneejerked into contexts of related CA codes in manners where they totally distort the original limited coherence of the law. Different counties in CA have considerably different policies in charging crimes or settling controversies. What I’m discussing here, however, is not issues as to whether counties and states should have the same laws or enforce them similarly, but rather the defective reporting of law enforcement and legal proceedings in newspapers, which practice prevents the local public from evaluating the nature of whatever sort of laws are locally on the books and whatever manner in which they are currently prosecuted – so that they can decide whether the situation is what they want locally.

What I see from the press, so far, is that ‘we don’t know what’s goin’ on and the general public is stupider than us, so there’s no problem.’ Mostly the lawyers ain’t talkin’, but rather, counting their shekels. I get mostly the same message here in this thread so far. Well, reporters are paid to be quick and active and are not held out to be geniuses. A lot of lawyers, however, think they’re up there somewhere. I don’t see that from my perspective. . .and I sure ain’t sitting on the top of everything. The US is dumbing itself down like crazy. . .all for a fast Yankee buck. And the general public has to either play the role of the idiot, or provide themselves as fodder to this system, or both.

Moonshine:

To paraphrase, he says, ‘great post but what’s the question?’ First ¶: He relegates my OP to a complaint that the press doesn’t "exactly" describe the "minutae"* of the law. My point was that they use the words I mentioned, which, whether occurring in the federal, state or local codes or not, have wide ranges of meanings – because, well, yeah, the public hears those words all the time, so those’ll be good and they’ll emote lots over my article that contains them, and my newspaper will keep me here. And yet, reporters will turn around and use all manner of esoteric, uncommon or archaic words that they think are “cultural” or alliterative or funny or make them points on their jobs or elsewhere or whatever.

Just about everthing today in CA-US is chargeable as a felony (which shows, in and of itself, failure of the proportionality principle in crime), but some things are still misdemeanors. Some misdemeanors in this state are generally described by, or even have in their codified verbiage, the very same words as quite serious felonies. When such misdemeanors are written up in newspapers, they often read as if they are the correlate serious felonies, because this puts more food on both the reporters’ and thier bosses’ plates. I was not complaining about absenses of “exact” differentiation of “minut*ae”. Then MS says:

Proper reporting – from the standpoint of the social order, not, perhaps, from that of journalistic or legal careers – would not contain any more words or any more words the general public doesn’t know the meaning of, particularly once decent report should be in place; it would merely contain less inflammatory words and words that are careful to place acts and charges in orderly context, from a practical social standpoint, along with numerical code sections at least where such words cannot be made to perform this task, given their abusive multiple duty within the laws themselves as written.

Clearly not. But in your first paragraph you play the role of the target of the “dumbing down” that you then claim to object to in your second paragraph.

GregAtlanta:

Well, OK, I didn’t get much complexity from the newsies I questioned on this. They just wanted to claim that the public’s a bunch of idiots, so they write for idiots. That answer didn’t show me much complexity. But I guess I don’t look for a lot of complexity in news reporters; their fortes are more quickness and industriousness. I think any reasonable answer is quite simple, from a viewpoint not privy to what goes on behind the scenes in newspapers. (I used to smell a little of what went on there in the case of the SJ Mercury News, both before and after it became a Knight-Ridder rag – which may not’ve made it any worse.)

Hey, that’s just more of the above. . .and a very simple answer. So you say that I’m looking for a complex answer rather than the actual simple answer. . .that the press only feeds the numerically empowered public what they want to hear? And, furthermore, that’s what it should do? Is that your definition of new in a democracy – mob rule? That nothing educational in the interest of improvement of society should be allowed to creep into news reporting?

Are you telling me all these “most” people you write for would buy some other paper, if you printed two words, ‘Xxx Code’ and up to a maximum of 3 numerical/literal designators, the first one of up to 3 digits? How many cities do you think of today in th

Hi Nano Byte,

As I understand your post, you are concerned that newspapers contribute to misunderstandings about the law, because newspaper journalists do not specifically state which statute is being used to charge individuals, and because newspapers do not use the statutory wording. Did I interpret your concerns correctly?

If so, I think you are under-estimating the common-sense intelligence of the crime-committing public, and over-estimating the role that newspaper readership plays in the lives of those who commit crimes.

Pretty much everybody knows what it means to ‘‘rape’’ a woman. And pretty much everyone knows it is illegal. So when a newspaper says a man is charged with ‘‘rape,’’ that is generally sufficient to communicate to the public which law has been broken.

The same can be said of ‘‘murder,’’ ‘‘armed robbery,’’ and most other crimes that appear in newspaper crime stories.

Often, when a person is formally charged with a felony, the prosecutor will file several counts, to cover various legal theories of the crime. This is especially true when a person dies during the commission of a felony. For example, it might happen if someone tries to commit a carjacking and in the process breaks through a car window and kills the driver accidently. In a case like this, the criminal complaint might contain several different variations on the murder charge. It’s possible to explain each of these charges in depth in a newspaper article, but if that is done, the article ceases to be a news story about a pending murder trial and becomes, instead, a text on law.

Law textbooks are available, and any member of the reading public can educate himself about laws by going to the library. The primary duty of a newspaper, however, is to provide the news. If a newspaper article gets bogged down in a lengthy discussion about the various criminal charges possible in a specific case, it must do so at the expense of relaying the news. By doing this, the newspaper would lose an opportunity to educate the public about the real-life impact of the law.

You wrote:

I think you’re leaping to an erroneous conclusion here. It’s not a hassle for reporters to cite specific legal codes. But doing what you appear to be suggesting (namely, turning news articles into scholarly discourses on the law) would detract from the journalist’s ability to present the news. Generally, newspaper readers understand the crimes that have been committed.

I would say no such taboo exists. When a newspaper article reports that a man has been charged with ‘‘first-degree murder’’ and could face the death penalty, it’s pretty clear to everyone which law has been violated.

Can you provide an example? I’m skeptical that any journalist for an urban newspaper would be careless enough to fudge the difference between a misdemeanor (which is what I assume you mean by ‘‘infraction’’) and a ‘‘capital’’ offense punishable by death.

I’m quite sure you’re mistaken. It’s very easy for journalists to get such citations.

There are at least two big problems with this: 1) The newspaper would have to dump out some other news to create the space. The other news might also be valuable to the public. Is the trade-off worth it? The answer is ‘‘no,’’ because: 2) even if the newspaper did this, it wouldn’t help readers understand the crime better. The statutory citation doesn’t help explain what is meant my ‘‘rape’’ or ‘‘murder.’’

To summarize, there is virtually no risk that the public will get confused about what they can and cannot do under the law, simply because a newspaper does not provide a statutory citation. Most members of the public know it is illegal to rape, murder, steal, stab someone, shoot someone, etc.

Your concern that newspapers confuse the public and erode the effectiveness of the law in our society is, in my opinion, unfounded.

(THAT should give you something to write about. :wink: )

NanoByte, were you beaten with a rolled up newspaper as a child?
That last post was 3,403 words of ranting, with a whole lot of viciousness directed to a few people who just tried to answer your “why” question. Apparently, we’re all idiots with ulterior motives if we disagree with you.
Move it to Great Debates or the BBQ Pit, where people will understand that you don’t want an actual answer.
And I suggest you go start up your own newspaper, where every crime story will be about 10,000 words long and as longwinded as your posts. You can stand on the sidewalk and scream about how right you are as people refuse to buy your paper.
– Greg, Atlanta

NANOBYTE – First of all, let me say that your original question, if it is adequately set forth in the title of this thread, was completely lost in the depths of your verbose and, as you admit, “overly long” post. So I’ll just attempt to respond to your second post, though I obviously cannot match you in length. You say:

What, precisely, do you mean by an “intermediate violent crime”? What would the emotions of the victims/their familes have to do with the explication of crime in the newspapers?

Are you arguing that the punishment generally does not fit the crime in the U.S.?

Are you arguing that, in America, there are not even gross distinctions betweeen the nature of crimes? Do you seriously argue that the average American does not recognize the gross distinction between murder and rape, for example?

The problem here, of course, is that certain words have a legal meaning that corresponds to the “factual nature” – i.e., the gravity – of the crime in question (such as “aggravated,” for example). Such words are necessary to convey the nature of the crime to those within the legal community – the charging attorney, the defense attorney, the judge, the defendant, and the jury – but will not necessarily convey a specific maeaning to a member of the public at large. Simply because the public at large does not fully understand it, are we to discard it despite its utility in the system of justice?

Actually, there is not. The current trend within the law profession (your gross over-generalizations notwithstanding) is towards the usage of plain language that can be easily understood – Plain English, as it is called. As codes in all jurisdictions are updated, archaic wording is removed in favor of plain English. This is especially true in the criminal codes, where the public is deemed to be on notice of what constitutes a particular crime and, therefore, it is especially important that the elements of the crime be understandable to a person of average intelligence. There are large sections of various state codes that are written in archaic, borderline-incomprehensible language, but these code sections tend to do with property laws (which are not fluid and do not change much) or esoteric laws that are not broadly applicable to the general public, such as the rules for recording deeds and wills.

What “reporting standards” do you hold the newspapers to? It would, apparently, include citation to code sections, but without the recognition that (a) the vast majority of Americans would not bother to look up particular code sections and; (b) the small percentage of people who would may do so without the actual code section (which you may find in the index to the codes), so long as they know the specific crime that was charged.

Could you provide an example of this? Aside from your use of the word “knee-jerk” as a verb, I don’t believe this is true. California codes are no more the subject of “importation” from other jurisdictions than most state codes and, in fact, this rarely happens. What does happen (as a modern legal trend) is the adoption by various states (including California) of “uniform” codes (such as the Uniform Commercial Code) that are virtually identical from state to state.

With the exception of zoning regulations and other minor “housekeeping” matters, counties do not have the luxury of passing laws that apply to them only; laws (especially criminal laws) are passed by state legislatures and should be uniformly applied throughout the state. If a defendant can demonstrate that they are not, he or she has a wonderful equal protection claim to press in a law suit against the state.

The “local public” does not have the luxury of determining what laws will and will not apply in their locality; the laws (as opposed to local regulations) apply equally to every citizen in a given state. If a particular citizen wants to know the exact crime charged in a particular case, he or she can look up the charging document (the information), which is public, and then go look up the law at the library.

I am not a member of the press, and so won’t bother taking issue with your characterization of them.

Please explain the corrolation between the failure of the press to include specific code citations and the “counting of shekels” by the legal profession. In any event, if you can read and can use an index, you can look the law up yourself and don’t need to ask a lawyer to do it for you.

In fact, most the words you cited have very specific legal meanings. The fact that the public at large does not understand this, and therefore assi

Hi, Nano!

Good morning, boys and girls. Welcome to Mr. Roger’s neighborhood. Todays word is “troll”. Can you say troll? I knew you could.

Whenever I see a post that takes 2 min. 15 sec to scroll through without reading, I know that somebody’s on a real rant.

But the first paragraph of your OP was absolutely incoherent!
Remember, brevity is the soul of wit. Try recasting you argument in only 2 paragraphs.
This will compel you to clarify and define the essential points you are trying to make, and even give you a new insight into your views.
Or…you could just go take your Lithium instead of flushing it when the psych ward nurse isn’t looking. Just as a change of pace.
if yer gonna inundate us with your off-base ideas; at least make em coherent.


YO-HO, ME HEARTIES! ALL HANDS ON DECK FOR THE MUSICAL BATTLE AT SEA!

Temujin:

Yes.

No.

Why do you select the "crime-committing public"? I’m talking about the general newspaper-reading public.

Well, I think that may be OK in CA-US at present, because I believe this state no longer uses the term ‘statutory rape’, but rather unlawful sex or something.

Well, it can’t, and I think this is well pointed out in my overly long posts; but go look at any state’s or province’s laws and you’ll soon realize you could have a very incorrect understanding of the actual content/nature of the charges filed, as they are often worded in newspapers, if you compared the texts of the code sections the pertinent court filings called out – to the what is said about the charges in the news stories.

Well, look, anyone can always argue in that mode; that’s the same silly sort of attack as the following:

  1. You can’t right a chapter on what electricity is in your book, because we don’t presently know everything we’ll ever know about electricity.

  2. You can’t synopsize a usefully accurate and unambiguous statement of the case presented at this time against the defendant because you’re not a lawyer.

  3. We don’t believe what’s in your newspaper because the Grand and Glorious Dictator says your paper is illegal.

etc., etc. I could say this post of yours is not damn good because it exceeds the reasonable length for a post here, when, in actuality, both of our posts could be rewritten in reasonable length and still reasonably cover their territories to the extent needed for the purpose.

I’m not saying the reporter who is simply covering a crime story where the charges have been filed has to go into a legal dissertation; I’m simply saying that (s)he should be required to use descriptive words for usually all of the charges (because usually there aren’t a lot of them), which words are sufficient to distinguish – to the extent the general public would expect to distinguish same in their own words – the particular charges from all other charges that could easily be confused with these if one just throws out a fistful of the ambiguous words I’ve twice mentioned. . .or else, if there is not space for even this, to cite, by number, the code sections charged. Preferably the reporter should do the latter in all cases. What I’m requesting is not something that takes up many column-inches, but it does take a little extra reference work on the part of the writer. If we’re going to live in a society where people sling around words to make a mess of things, a decent newspaper should be responsible for unslinging an amount of them that will allow any reader to reconcile his/her notion of justice / law and order / public protection with what criminals / criminal suspects / criminal defendants do, and authorities do as a result of what they do.

You just not connecting at all here. You’re just saying I’m all wrong, when you can’t even find the ballpark. MY POINT IS PRECISELY THAT, OFTEN, IN READING A NEWS STORY OF THIS NATURE, ONE CAN’T EVEN, ON A SIMPLE LEVEL BE SURE OF THE NATURE OR EXTENT OF THE CHARGES, SUCH THAT ONE COULD RELATE THE STATUTES OR ONE’S NOTIONS OF THEM TO THE PARTICULAR STORY. IF THE NEWS STORY IS SUFFICIENTLY DEFINITIVE AND ACCURATE AS TO THE CHARGES, AND/OR CITES THE SPECIFIC CODE SECTIONS, THE READER WOULD EITHER KNOW WHAT HE WANTS TO KNOW, TO THE DEPTH THAT HE WANTS TO KNOW IT. . .OR, IF NOT, HE COULD THEN GO TO THE CODES, OR CASES, IF HE SHOULD WANT, IN ORDER TO REFINE THINGS FURTHER. As it is, he’s often confused or misled at the simplest level of understanding of the matter covered in the story, in which case, unless he had a strong interest, that would be the end of the matter – ineffective informance of news. If he wished to go further, he is then obliged to go to the courthouse and sign out the case file, just to find out what the devil the charges were in the case. And then, many times, the file will be out somewhere, and he’ll have to come back another time. But people like you apparently want our society to work in that miserable way. Are you a lawyer, law student or prospective one?

It is to provide the news to a useful and respectable standard of accuracy and unambiguity.

I said nothing about “charges possible”; I spoke only about charges filed Some charges may be later dropped, but no one knows that at present. All charges initially filed are charges filed, not charges possible, and they all (almost always few) should be mentioned adequately, unless they are far lesser than the most serious ones.

[quote]
By doing this,
the newspaper would lose an opportunity to educate the public

“Actually, there is not.” Yeah, sure, all those things are done just the same in every state of the Union. Give me a break, Lawyer. And then you contradict yourself by saying something like “the trend” is that they’re all being changed to agree, by converting them all to Plain English. If they were all already the same, this trendy process wouldn’t have anything to do, now would it? Now, I’m not even saying all these things should be the same in every state. There’s state’s right, you know, and laws can vary from one jurisdiction to the next without violating the federal Constitution.

This is getting off the subject quite a bit, but what you say here is simply not true. I don’t know what state you’re in, or probably practice law in, but I’m in CA. Most of the CA Penal Code has been modernized but some parts, while the archaic wording has been changed, still are grouped and otherwise slanted so as to create chaos – and they do use these parts. But the problem with the CA Penal Code is not the archaic parts so much, but rather the overdone intracy of interreferenced ifs, ands and buts between its different parts, in inevitably inconsistent ways, and your “Plain English” words are redefined in and out and back and forth every paragraph or so, and copy-cat bills drawn up to fit with other states’ codes have been incorporated without adequate adjustment to the CA Penal Code, so that an unprogrammed person of average intelligence can hardly get anywhere with it today. And then, have you looked at New England’s criminal codes, at least Massachusetts? Common crimes are still written in almost the language used for burning witches in the 1600s. Only those relating to deeds and wills. . .my ###!

No, I’m not claiming any general circulation newspapers cite cod sections.

True, but they would get some feeling that they could do so and that, as a result, they maybe could trust the words in the article a little more in such case. And some persons would in a few cases they take an interest in, for whatever reason. I’m certainly not claiming trivia contests are going to switch to all crime and punishment.

Lawyer, you miss the whole cotten-picking point! If the newspaper doesn’t print the code section, but uses words for the charge – and you wonder, say, about whether that charge is reasonable, given the description in the article of the incident – and you look up the words in the index to the appropriate code – and you find several sections covering quite different crimes, or you find only one, but it happens that some word the reporter thought was appropriate in the vernacular only turns up in the wrong code. See my example above in this post in response to Temujin. So the reader, to get the scoop on the actual code charged, would then have to look at the police report or the accusatory court document.

Well, New Jersey’s Megan Law, for one, but I’m sure there have been at least half a dozen in the last decade or less.

OK, so how many years do I get for using ‘knee-jerk’ as a verb? Is that a higher crime than the elliptical logic in this sentence of yours?

I didn’t say they were. I just said that was done and that it is another means of fouling up the internal consistency and original intent of legal codes.

See my post on Berkeley’s current nudity trial:
http://www.straightdope.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/002597.html

The City of Berkeley has a recently enacted anti-nudity ordinance. Some people who regularly like to express themselves on the streets of Berkeley in ad hoc performances have been cited under this ordinance and are challenging it under the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The relevant links from the above page are:
http://www.tsoft.net/~raych/NudityOnTrial.htm
http://www.tsoft.net/~raych/Nudity2.htm

This may support your statement somewhat, but I don’t think so. Tune in, on Nov. 15, 1999, to the Berkeley Muni Court. There are a lot of jurisdictions in CA-US which have anti-nudity ordinances, mainly cities, and of course, other cities and counties don’t have any. I think there’s one in Santa Cruz that stood up under a First Amendment challenge. Is that “housekeeping”? I love lawyers, they can define their terms anyway they want to make their prior pronouncements ring true.

Well, I should’ve phrased that better. If they any of most laws any different, yes they can only do this by getting together with the rest of the state, either through their state assemblymen or by way of state public initiativ

I thought you were interested in discussing. If I had known you were interested in insulting, I’d have directed you to the BBQ pit.

The problem, Nano, is that you have no idea what you’re talking about, but you’re very emotional about it. You’ve grasped onto a non-issue the way a dog clamps down on a chew toy and waits for someone to come along and pull. Sorry, boy, you’ll have to play with someone else.

Nano, I’m not sure if it’s lawyers or journalists you hate the most, but the answer to your OP remains that the codes to crimes are not cited in the press because nobody cares, it simply isn’t news. Sorry about the short answer but my eyes are beginning to bleed from reading through your last, toilet-roll length, post. Let us repair to the pit forthwith.

If you want to know the codes for the specific charge, haul your lazy ass down to the fucking courthouse and sit through the arraignment or ask to see a copy of the charges. Cripes, they’re public records.

The newspapers are not an arm of the courts, and in a capitalist society, their only responsibility is to sell more of themselves.


“I love God! He’s so deliciously evil!” - Stewie Griffin, Family Guy