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Handing Up . . . Handing Down Indictments Phrase

 
 
CDobyns
 
Reply Thu 8 Nov, 2007 08:18 am
I've frequently heard the phrase about how various legal process documents and charges are somewhat euphemistically referred to as being "handed down" or "handed up". The most recent one I heard is where a grand jury handed up various indictments, but I've also heard the converse, where some other type of finding or legal process document was handed down.

Does that phrase originate from sort of literal or actual juxtaposition of a judge or magistrate sitting up "higher" (or lower in the case of a jury) and the workflow of documents in the legal system and how they pass from one part of the legal process to another?
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Thu 8 Nov, 2007 10:43 am
Re: Handing Up . . . Handing Down Indictments Phrase
CDobyns wrote:
I've frequently heard the phrase about how various legal process documents and charges are somewhat euphemistically referred to as being "handed down" or "handed up". The most recent one I heard is where a grand jury handed up various indictments, but I've also heard the converse, where some other type of finding or legal process document was handed down.

I think (and I may be wrong on this) that "handing down" an indictment is the American usage, whereas "handing up" an indictment is British.

CDobyns wrote:
Does that phrase originate from sort of literal or actual juxtaposition of a judge or magistrate sitting up "higher" (or lower in the case of a jury) and the workflow of documents in the legal system and how they pass from one part of the legal process to another?

That's an interesting theory. I don't know. In the US, a grand jury hands down an indictment, not a judge.
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