Wednesday, February 08, 2006

On the legality of balderdash and gadzooks in the Commonwealth

Christian Trejbal has this column in the Roanoke paper, describing his discovery that the criminal law of Virginia prohibits public profanity. Va. Code § 18.2-388. Every lawyer who has been more than few times to general district court has heard of this statute, along with the curse and abuse statute, Va. Code § 18.2-416.

The column gave me cause to recollect one of my first research projects, for a brief in the case of Kennedy's Piggly Wiggly Stores, Inc. v. Cooper, 14 Va. App. 701, 419 S.E.2d 278 (1992). The claimant had told a company executive just what he was full of, leading to the termination of his employment, and the litigation of whether his use of such language was "gross misconduct" as would disqualify him from getting unemployment. To write the brief, I looked up on Westlaw all the svere verds I knew. And, there were a lot of cases. Evidently, the panel of the Court of Appeals was familiar with words of this kind, and concluded that their use was not such a big deal (notwithstanding their possible illegality).

No comments: