You hear the V word in the aging halls and courtrooms of the REGJB every day. You hear judges use it (wrongly), you hear prosecutors use it (understandably) and you hear defense attorneys use it (unforgivably) which causes us no end of agita.
The V word is of course "Victim".
Victim is a status, conferred not by the bringing of charges, but by the resolution of a case where if a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty (rare occurrences in our practice) the COMPLAINING WITNESS now, and only now, is entitled to be called a victim.
Imagine a self defense case. A burglar breaks into an occupied home in the dead of night and is shot dead by the home owner. Charges are brought. The burglar is the deceased; the dead; the criminal; but certainly not the victim.
And yet, we hear all the time phrases coming from the bench like "did the victim give a deposition?" and the like. To which we respond, "there is no victim in this case. There is only a complaining witness" who in our world is some lying, conniving, devious, miscreant not worthy of sharing the same mask- purified air as the rest of civilized society.
Which is why we were surprised and gratified to see an experienced Judge - Michael Schroeder- in Kenosha, Wisconsin, prohibit the use of the V word in trials. Judge Schroeder is gaining notoriety for his handling of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, and in this article in the Washington Post, his ban of the V word is discussed.
The late, great REGJB Judge Michael Salmon, during trial, when the complaining witness would make a (in our cases, mistaken) identification of the defendant, and when asked by the prosecutor to have the record reflect that the victim identified the defendant, would respond "that's for the jury to decide".
Do not use the V word please.