Monday, February 14, 2011

A Fine Legal Distinction

Another semester, another batch of confused 1Ls who are having a hard time with legal concepts. I empathize with you guys. It's tough starting this ridiculous law school thing.

To try to ease you into law school, and to help anyone in general, I wish to offer you some advice that will make your lives 100% easier.

Tortious ≠ Tortoise

This is a fine legal distinction, one which many 1Ls and lay people tend to mess up. Firstly, tortious and tortoise are two entirely different things.

Tortious (tawr-shuhs): - adj law 1. having the nature of or involving a tort; constituting a tort; wrongful

Tortoise (tawr-tuhs): - noun 1. any herbivorous terrestrial chelonian reptile of the family Testudinidae,  of most warm regions, having a heavy dome-shaped shell and clawed limbs

Despite the definitions clearly indicating that tortious is not tortoise, I have found that visual aides often help explaining many things having to do with the law.

The dude is battering the cute chick in pink, and is in turn being battered by the not-as-cute chick in black. Battery is a tortious act.
Notice the lack of any shelled reptiles. This lack of shelled reptiles is near conclusive indicia that what is going on is not tortoise.

This herbivorous terrestrial chelonian reptile of the family Testudinidae is what we call a tortoise.
Here, we see a shelled reptile that is not committing any sort of tort (we will assume that the reptile is not trespassing or committing fraud). Not committing any torts is strong indicia that what is going on is not tortious.

Now that you have seen the difference between tortious and tortoise, you should go through the following examples to solidify your grasp on the difference.

Answer the following question for all of the below pictures: Is the picture demonstrative of tortious or tortoise, and why?

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5
Picture 6
Picture 7


Picture 1 is tortious, because battery is a tort.
Picture 2 is tortoise, because it is a tortoise.
Picture 3 is tortious, because trespassing is a tort against property.
Picture 4 is tortoise, because it is a tortoise.
Picture 5 is tortoise, because it is a tortoise (If you guessed tortious, you were likely following what you thought was a patter. You should stay on your toes and analyze, instead of trying to read patters).
Picture 6 is tortious, because police brutality is a battery and property destruction (the sign) are both torts.
Picture 7 is both tortious and tortoise. First, it is tortious because punching someone consitutes battery, which is a tort. Second, it is tortoise because Rafael is a tortoise (the author using a broad definition of tortoise. He full well knows that Rafael is technically a turtle).

A final thought...
Armed with the knowledge of the fine distinction between tortious and tortoise, you can feel confident in all of your future legal endeavors. Good luck, and Godspeed!

1 comment:

  1. Man! This post came just in time! I was totally having this argument with someone today! :)