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Texas Bar Journal




Suppose, for some reason we can only dimly imagine, that an attorney set out to find a Texas legal definition of "chicken----." Since West's key number system was not set up with any particular items of profanity in mind, a savvy legal researcher would start with the computers. A nationwide LEXIS search quickly retrieves a surprisingly large number of cases mentioning "chicken----," including the US. Supreme Court's groundbreaking ruling that the phrase is "street vernacular" not warranting a contempt citation for its mere mention in court. Unfortunately, the reported case law contains no satisfactory definition of "chicken----."

But wait ... there is one recent Texas decision, In re Jimenez. The case explicitly defines "chicken---- " as "feces of a species of the poultry variety," citing as authority Justice Ben Z. Grant and Larry L. King's recently published work, "The Kingfish." Overjoyed by this bit of luck, the attorney would hasten to jot down the LEXIS reference: "Supreme Court of Texas, Nov. 16, 1992." Looking more closely, though, one might notice a few strange items. For example, why does the case heading state that there is "no [docket] number in original?" Don't all cases have docket numbers? And since when did First Court of Appeals Justices Murry Cohen and Margaret Garner Mirabal, as well as Chief Justice Ronald Walker of the Beaumont appeals court, get elevated to the Texas Supreme Court - or even serve on the same court of appeals, for that matter?

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State Bar of Texas

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