When Lawyers and Courts Rely on Urban Dictionary

What do lawyers do when a witness or a defendant uses slang that can’t be found in the Webster’s Dictionary? Why, rely on the online site Urban Dictionary, as The New York Times reports:

The online site, created by a college freshman in 1999, has found itself in the thick of cases involving everything from sexual harassment to armed robbery to requests for personalized license plates, as courts look to discern meaning and intent in the modern lexicon.

Last month, Urban Dictionary was cited in a financial restitution case in Wisconsin, where an appeals court was reviewing the term “jack” because a convicted robber and his companion had referred to themselves as the “jack boys.”

The court noted, however, that according to Urban Dictionary, “jack” means “to steal, or take from an unsuspecting person or store.” It then rejected the convicted man’s claim that he should not have to make restitution to the owner of a van he stole to use in a robbery.

Awesome. Can’t tell you how often UD saved me from embarrassment.

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