Bench + Bar of Minnesota

Deuce-Ace's Law Dictionary

By The Rev. Dr. Felix Rabbits Van Deuce-Ace, Esq., L.L.M., M.A., M.B.A., M.D., Ph.D.

Excerpted and introduced by Adam Johnson

When one contemplates the idea of a legal dictionary—which one probably is not in the habit of doing of a quiet evening, but whatever—Black’s invariably comes to mind. That profuse work by Henry Campbell Black continues to dominate the legal lexicographical field. It is a seminal work, and this humble writer would not deny Professor Garner that claim. Black’s achievement is magnificent and its dominance beyond contest. It is relied on by the Alaskan judge, the weary Floridian student of law, and the hack divorce lawyer in Billings. Thousands of copies fall from shelves yearly in all the blessed states of the union. We should rejoice in such an authoritative voice.

Yet there is a certain natural gloominess in the amalgamation of lexical authority in a single source: an almost inorganic limitation, if one may be so proud as to make such an unclear claim. At times it is necessary to invoke the mutterings of another, if only to second or oppose a motion. Language is a thing argued over interminably by lawyers, and it is unfortunate that no Burrill, Kinney, Wharton, Bouvier, or Mouldycastle has arisen in this century to add their say about words. True, there is Ballentine’s and Oran’s, both capable and extensive works, and Webster’s has made a go of it. But the field is wanting of something more.

I have had the good fortune of being asked to write the foreword to Professor Deuce-Ace’s maiden lexical work—this chiefly because I know of a great secret of his that I’ve offered to keep in the instance he puts my name in print. He has done so. I thank him handsomely. And while I do not care for the man personally, his dictionary, I own, is a thing of some merit. It is a trite work, true, but a pleasing work no less. It adduces truth through farce—in a way, I suppose, perhaps, maybe. There are on the one hand mockeries and simple jests while on the other serious revelations of latent truth, or something.

A successful lexicographical work is sometimes that which arises from frank observation. It may just be candor. It is the unfiltered examination of words by conventional understanding. It is stuff. I reckon there are those pedants who won’t suffer Dr. Deuce-Ace’s work ab ante, but it is not for them he wrote. 

Scholarly square-toes will find much objectionable about the dictionary, as will the somber office drudge. This because the bloody thing wasn’t written for the serious, but for your average mouth-breather. It is a thing to be chuckled at over toilet-rites, not cited in a paper. It should sit on a ceramic tank; it should not rest on a cherry shelf. It is unconcerned with being authoritative simply because it is anti-authority and altogether brief. It needs no defenders because it is so patently in the wrong. It is a twaddling little bit of burlesque fit for the easy eyes of a man or woman at their leisure. It is, in fine, a bit of butter fat, nothing more. It is what it is, and it doesn’t pretend to be what it is not. And even if it were what it is not, it would still be what it is. At the very least, we may comfort ourselves with these final aspects of it. Herein, I have chosen the choicest bits of morsels as representative of the whole. The full dictionary, which includes the longest definition of “lawyer” in the English language, is accessible at

ab initio. 1. from the beginning. 2. an appropriate term at the start of a dictionary.

acquittal. 1. the result of a jury spellbound by the witchcraft of a defense lawyer. 2. the result of a jury treating “reasonable doubt” as “beyond all doubt.” 3. justice some of the time.

affiant. 1. the name of a person in an affidavit. 2. a person who talks of oneself in the third person. 3. a person who swears to a statement drafted by a lawyer.

agreement. 1. a thing wont to disintegrate. 2. the seed of discord. 3. a handshake as recalled by one person.

alibi. 1. a defense available to one who was in the house of a liar during the occurrence of a crime.

ancient document. 1. a document unearthed from the antiquity of 20 years ago. 2. a lie or farce made reliable by the passing of two decades. 3. a mean lie perpetrated a generation hence.

arbitration. 1. a method of dispute resolution outside a court. 2. a casual brawl. 3. an avenue leading invariably to formal litigation.

attorney-client privilege. 1. a lawyer’s sacred duty to hold a client’s communications in strict confidence. 2. a duty of a lawyer to keep a thing secret to the ends of the earth. 3. an obligation abandoned by a lawyer in liquor among other lawyers.

bailiff. 1. an armed tipstaff in brown liveries who hates cell-phones and hats. 2. a shoosher. 3. a judge’s muscle. 4. a beadle of a courtroom.

bastard. 1. a superannuated term for illegitimate issue. 2. slang for opposing counsel.

billable hours. 1. minutes of labor depicted as hours. 2. the fraudulent plunder of an honest client’s purse. 3. the aggregate of six-minute telephone calls stretched to 100.

chambers. 1. a locus for scare or tea depending on the judge. 2. the lair of a powerful person. 3. a frightful den of manners, gavel trophies, and family artifacts.

chattels. 1. property apart from real property. 2. personalty. 3. things converted.

class action. 1. a loose group of strangers discovered by tireless lawyers chasing distant lucre.

client. 1. a person immune from this dictionary due to the future pecuniary interest of its lexicographer.

Commerce Clause. 1. a constitutional provision allowing Congress to regulate non-commercial activity. 2. a “do anything” license.

Constitution, United States. 1. a federal charter revised by centuries of capricious meddling. 2. a collection of ambiguous clauses. 3. a dead or breathing thing depending on the scholar. 4. the lawyer’s plaything.

copyright. 1. a property right in an original work of authorship. 2. an intangible guardian of this dictionary. 3. a C in a circle.

counterclaim. 1. the averment of a cause without supportive fact introduced by a party in the wrong. 2. an eye for an eye. 3. a blind charge.

court. 1. a place where justice is sought. 2. a gambling-shop. 3. a tower of Babel. 4. a Mock-beggar Hall.

curriculum vitae. 1. an arrogant resume. 2. a CeeVee. 3. a document containing a list of accomplishments from one’s prime.

deliberation. 1. a closed proceeding where jurors attempt to clarify the confusion created by a judge’s instructions.

deposition. 1. an exchange of questions and objections without rulings. 2. a wrecker of whole weeks.

dicta. 1. superfluous words transformed into precedent over time. 2. a word applied to precedent by a judge laboring against stare decisis.

discovery. 1. a process of seeking and withholding information and material. 2. a means of burdening and being burdened by opposing counsel. 3. a monstrosity.

dissent. 1. to grumble about. 2. to cause a fuss in an academic manner.

eloign. 1. to remove a person or property from a court’s jurisdiction. 2. to save a person or thing from destruction by a court.

en banc. 1. all of the judges of an appellate court sitting together to unanimously repudiate a party.

escheat. 1. a doctrine containing the word “cheat” and pronounced “is cheat” that involves the government acceding to a dead person’s property.

esquire. 1. traditionally a title of respect accorded to men of higher social status. 2. a title of mocking respect accorded to lawyers by lawyers. 3. an honorific title that unaware lawyers boldly apply after their own names.

fact. 1. a thing currently or previously in existence. 2. an alleged aspect of the world proven in a courtroom without regard for truth. 3. an aspect of reality controlled by lawyers.

Fifth Amendment. 1. eminent domain. 2. the right to just compensation for land taken by the government and sold to a drug company. 3. some due process generally. 4. a right to stay mum. 5. an amendment in a constant state of alteration.

filing fee. 1. an obscene premium. 2. a schmear, kind of.

hearsay. 1. a rule of evidence with interminable exceptions. 2. he said-she said prohibited as evidence. 3. a rule that does not exclude hearsay so long as it is excited and uttered.

in chambers conference. 1. a judge suffering fools. 2. a casual exchange inside the lamp of a genie.

inmate. 1. a man or woman but mostly a man incarcerated in a jail or a prison.

interrogatory. 1. a written question calling for an objection. 2. a written query meant to harass or confound.

judge. 1. a lawyer in a chamber. 2. no longer a bewigged person.

jurisprudence. 1. the study of the law or legal systems. 2. a pedantic, mistaken synonym for judicial precedent.

jury lenity. 1. jury nullification. 2. the power of a jury to act like a jury. 3. the power of a jury to act legally and illegally in one. 4. a curious paradox.

justice system. 1. a bewildering network of mystical deceptions and ambuscades. 2. a darksome labyrinth of corruption and treachery. 3. a philosophical amusement. 4. a thing written about and criticized.

landlord. 1. a man or woman opposed to habitability. 2. a rent collector. 3. a felon.

laptop. 1. a device central to the learning of stenography by law students. 2. a machine responsible for whole semesters of lectures missed.

law clerk. 1. a toiling slavey. 2. a lawyer’s major-domo. 3. often a person who does the work of a lawyer in a chamber. 4. a patient aide-de-camp.

law library. 1. a library filled with first-year law students. 2. a courthouse library filled with ancient texts and no living being.

lawyer. 1. the name given a professional knave… 33. a prevaricating scavenger who would shame the Devil… 50. a gamecock who tilts at windmills and dies in harness… 79. an abominable swine that condescends while picking a purse… 90. a darksome bandit who blenches at garlic and feeds on scandal… 120. a master of any mathematical equation involving one-third… 150. a wizard of the black arts with a soul as dark as a wolf’s mouth… 165. an unpleasant apparition manifested at any scene of misfortune… 181. a person who would brag about a case at a funeral… 226. a wicked desperado who would defenestrate Mother Teresa to win a gentleman’s bet… 275. a calculated hypocrite who will cry “cave” only after a few have fallen in… 309. an old Dogberry who is capable of deciding when doctors disagree… 335. a sun-burnt omega in weekend clothes who harasses the entire service industry… 361. a double-clocking clock watcher… 373. a glazed-over tramp who brags about Europe trips and cabins… 384. a cunning charmer who commingles accounts and doctors reality… 440. a horned goblin who looks down on government holidays… 477. a gold-starred ace-deuce-three with fake reviews… 505. a perfumed exquisite who dines on delicacies and feeds his staff bow wow mutton….

lawyer’s board. 1. a board entrusted with maintaining the competent and ethical practice of law by lawyers in a state. 2. a gotcha group. 3. ideally a body forgiving of a farcical dictionary.

lewdness. 1. public indecency. 2. a brown belt worn with black wingtips.

liability. 1. the quality or state of being responsible for something without explanation. 2. the quality of being at fault because a group of lawyers have deemed it so.

majority. 1. a tyrannical greater part. 2. a group in the wrong but considered right due to their number.

meeting, office. 1. an event that unfolds in an office conference room. 2. a strange place talked of by Dante. 3. a waste of time.

moot court. 1. a court of no consequence utilized by an off-the-rack newbie who gets a kick out of offering exhibits.

notary. 1. a person with a stamp. 2. a guard without a guard.

objection. 1. a knee-jerk excited utterance. 2. an inarticulable opposition to a thing. 3. to bawl during a pause in another’s speech.

testimony. 1. a sworn oral description of time-warped facts. 

ADAM JOHNSON practices criminal defense at Lundgren & Johnson, PSC, in Minneapolis.

Steve Perry
(612) 278-6333


Adverting Manager
Erica Nelson
(763) 497-1778


Classified Ads
Jackie Duvall-Smith
(612) 333-1183

Art Director
Jennifer Wallace
(612) 278-6311