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2006

Law and humanities

Southern Methodist University

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Just Say 'No Fishing': The Lure Of Metaphor, Elizabeth G. Thornburg Jan 2006

Just Say 'No Fishing': The Lure Of Metaphor, Elizabeth G. Thornburg

Faculty Scholarship

The phrase "fishing expedition" is widely used in popular culture and in the law. In the case of metaphorical "fishing" in the law, reliance on the metaphor can act as a substitute for rigorous analysis, disguising the factors that influence a result. When used by the court, it is uninformative. Worse, the fishing metaphor may itself shape the way the court thinks about the kind of issue or claim involved. Accusations of "fishing" also affect the language and position of the litigants. Parties arguing against pleadings or discovery use the metaphor as a rhetorical weapon, stigmatizing their opponents, instead of ...