UW Law Prof. Marc Galanter has a new book out called “Lawtalk: the Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions.”
Like Galanter’s last book entitled “Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture,” this book looks like a lot of fun. WI State Journal columnist, Doug Moe, recently profiled Galanter and the new book. He writes:
The new book explains how words and phrases such as “shyster,” “jailbait,” “green card,” “rainmaker” and “indict a ham sandwich” came into everyday language.
One of my favorites is “rap sheet” — an individual’s criminal record — which dates to 1947 but jumped in popularity in 1954 when a self-promoting crook named Blackie Audett wrote a colorful but factually challenged autobiography titled “Rap Sheet.” One reviewer suggested Blackie’s biggest crime was writing “Rap Sheet.”
Incidentally, the green card — which documents a noncitizen’s right to live and work in the United States — hasn’t been green since 1964.
The phrase “indict a ham sandwich” — which speaks to how prosecutors can easily manipulate grand juries — was popularized by a Jewish judge who later said he wished he had made the sandwich corned beef.
For more, read the full article.