Welcome to the second installment of our new Sunday blog series, Legalese From A to Z.
As part of this continuing series, we'll be taking a closer look at legal terminology that may be unfamiliar to non-lawyers. We started last week with the letter "A," so today we take on five legal terms that begin with the letter "B":
- BFOQ. BFOQ is short for "bona fide occupational qualification" which, in the workplace-discrimination context, may allow an employer to discriminate when there is a legitimate reason for the discrimination. For example, a childcare business looking for a wet nurse would be able to discriminate against men, as being able to breastfeed would be considered a BFOQ for that particular job.
- Bailee. Bailee doesn't necessarily have anything to do with bailing someone out of jail, but rather refers to an individual or organization entrusted with another person's personal property -- a process known as "bailment." Bailees include warehouses and commercial carriers such a trucks, trains, and cargo ships.
- Best evidence rule. The best evidence rule is a general rule of evidence that states: When a writing, document, photograph, or other recording is being entered into evidence in court, the original must be presented -- unless it is lost or destroyed, or otherwise unobtainable. The rule is a holdover from the days when copies of documents were made by hand, and more prone to error, though it is still applicable under the Federal Rules of Evidence and under many states' individual evidence codes.
- Blackacre. Have you ever heard a lawyer or academic refer to "Blackacre"? Is this some obscure historical reference that you missed, or something from pop culture that flew under your radar? Don't sweat it. "Blackacre" is simply the name commonly given to fictional pieces of property in legal exams or in other law school material.
- Burden of proof. The burden of proof refers to which party has the responsibility of persuading the judge or the jury regarding a fact or issue. For example, in a criminal case, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove that the defendant committed the crime in question, although for certain defenses to criminal charges, such as insanity, the burden of proof may be shifted to the defendant.
If you need help with defining a legal word or phrase, check out FindLaw's free Legal Dictionary for access to more than 8,260 definitions. And of course Legalese From A to Z will return next week to break down five legal terms beginning with "C."
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