What is a voto particular ?

Voto particular is a “separate opinion” offered by a judge in response to the majority opinion of his colleagues in a judgment in a given case. The expression is often thought to refer exclusively to a judge’s disagreement with his colleagues and thus has been rendered on many occasions as “dissenting opinion.” However, voto particular may also denote a “concurring opinion” in which a judge agrees with the majority opinion but for different reasons. This distinction is made in Spanish by differentiating between voto particular disidente (or) discrepante (dissenting opinion) and voto particular concurrente (concurring opinion).

In other respects, in the language of court decisions formular voto particular disidente (or) discrepante is simply “to dissent,” while formular voto particular concurrente is “to concur.” Adherirse is used to denote a judge’s “joining” another’s opinion: adherirse al voto particular disidente/discrepante o concurrente (“to join a dissenting or concurring opinion”). Thus, for example, voto particular concurrente que formula el Magistrado D. Luis López Guerra al que se adhiere el Magistrado D. Tomás S. Vives Antón would appear in English as “Judge Luis López Guerra, with whom Judge Tomás S. Vives joins, concurring.” Likewise, in English an expression such as “Justice White, with whom Justice Blackmun and Justice Stevens join, dissenting” denotes a voto particular disidente (or) discrepante formulado por el Magistrado White, al que se adhieren los Magistrados Blackmun y Stevens.

Don’t confuse “therefor” with “therefore”

The term “therefor” often appears in legal texts and is frequently confused with “therefore,” even by native speakers of English. “Therefore” means “consequently,” “for that reason,” “hence,” etc.: “I think, therefore I am.” (Pienso, luego existo). In contrast, phrasal verbs formed with “for” and prepositional phrases containing “for” are sometimes alternately rendered in legal writing as “therefor,” meaning “for that,” “for it:” Thus, “the grounds for the decision” may be expressed as “the grounds therefor,” or the “price paid for necessaries” might appear later in a document as “the price paid therefor.” Likewise, “he qualified for a pension” may be rendered as “he qualified therefor,” “the search for evidence” as “the search therefor” and “liability for damages” as “liability therefor.” Perhaps it should be noted that the spell checker of the world’s prevailing word processing software is totally ignorant of the existence of the English word “therefor” and will insist on changing “therefor” to “therefore” in any text that you may attempt to type.

Latinismos: venia

Venia, from the Latin meaning “grace,” “indulgence” or “favor” is frequently used in legal Spanish in at least two different contexts. When a lawyer in court addresses the judge asking for permission to proceed, he inevitably commences by saying “con la venia, Señoría” or “con la venia del Tribunal.” This corresponds to the English expression “May it please the Court,” a formalism dating from the early 17th century that is still used in Anglo-American courts when lawyers commence their oral arguments, as well as in written briefs submitted for the judge’s consideration.

Venia also denotes a lawyer’s agreement to transfer a case to another colleague. When a client changes lawyers, his newly-appointed counsel must solicitar la venia, asking that the case be transferred to him. Likewise, the former attorney is said to dar (or) conceder la venia, turning over all of the case documents to the new lawyer and pledging to cooperate with him to ensure that it is successfully prosecuted.

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