Thursday, April 2, 2015

Legal Definitions - B


Back date – The attempt by the tenant to pay the rent “on time” by tendering the rent late, but dating the check the first day of the month.  This also sometimes occurs when clients attempt to pay their legal bills "on time."  Neither of these is recommended.

Bailiff – The Sheriff/Marshal deputy who attempts, without brandishing his/her firearm, to maintain order in the courtroom, protect the judge, enforce the rules, diffuse arguments, answer inane questions, direct people to the nearest restroom, confiscate ringing cell phones, shush noisy children [and adults], and intercept live insects brought to prove habitability claims.

Bankruptcy – A title of the United States Code which allows folks who (1) fall on hard times, to discharge some or all of their debt [usually Chapter 7], (2) can't manage their finances, to restructure their debt [usually Chapter 13], or (3) want to stall their eviction to gain a few extra weeks in the property, although [much to their surprise] not usually rent-free [either Chapter].

Bench – The place where the judge sits when court is in session. Most judges are reasonably competent. Others give new meaning to the baseball term “warming the bench.” As a general rule, there is no talking, laughing, eating, drinking, smoking, reading, texting, sleeping, singing, spitting, screaming, or discharging of firearms allowed while the judge is on the bench. Coughing, sneezing, crying, and sometimes breathing are heavily regulated in some courtrooms.

Breach – Failing to live up to a term of the rental agreement. For landlords, this can include not maintaining the property in a habitable condition, disconnecting utilities, trespassing, and otherwise being a slumlord. For tenants, this can include not paying rent, allowing unauthorized occupants or pets to reside in the property, damaging the property, maintaining a meth lab or pot farm, and setting bonfires in the kitchen.  Breaches are not necessarily a bad thing, because they are why we have lawyers, and lawyers need to fund their yachts and summer vacations, or at least put food on their tables.


  1. These are great - informative AND funny!

  2. How many judges actually sit on a literal bench? You would hate for them to get too comfortable, wouldn't you? Or maybe you'd rather they be comfortable and of a pleasant demeanor when they take your case...? :)

    1. Most judges sit in posh desk chairs with high backs. I've been in jury trial with the judge leaning back on the chair so far I thought he was asleep, but he did rule quickly on evidentiary objections so he obviously wasn't. I'd rather a judge be comfortable, because if the judge isn't happy, s/he usually takes it out on counsel.

  3. Hey, Dena - stopping by from Ms. Reid's blog. Fun theme for A-Z! Good luck with the Challenge!