If I were clever there would be a punny nickname here.
February 13, 2012 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Within specific geographic areas, do lawyers and judges really have secret nicknames given to them by cops and journalists (and each other) that are plays on their real names? Or do people do this in the industry in which you work?

This feels like a ridiculous question but it's something I keep running across in otherwise good books, from a variety of authors, and I'm starting to find it distracting. I only notice this in crime fiction, which is why the focus of my question is on lawyers and judges and cops. In Michael Connelly's books, for example, a prosecutor named Maggie McPherson is supposedly known as "Maggie McFierce" behind her back. In the Sue Grafton book I'm reading right now (admittedly not high quality literature, but the same general genre as Connelly's work), the characters refer to someone named Gordon Titus as "Gordon Tight-Ass." These are only two examples - I've been reading quite a lot of crime fiction in the past year and I see it all the time. Connelly in particular does it constantly and he was a respected crime reporter in Los Angeles before he was a novelist, so I find it hard to believe he's making up this trend.

However, I'm a grown adult and I've worked in a variety of industries and I've never heard of real people being widely known by pun-based nicknames. Is this a real thing in law enforcement specifically, or is it done elsewhere and I just haven't noticed?
posted by something something to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
I don't know about punny nicknames, but people do get nicknames. I'm aware of a particularly amusing nickname a certain judge has for a certain person whom s/he sees often in court, but it would be wrong to say more.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:21 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I mostly practice in New York City's housing courts, but I can think of a couple of judges we've given punny nicknames to.
posted by Mavri at 6:24 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm long out of the arena, but I always felt that since you were so circumscribed in how you could relate to a judge in the courthouse setting and even out-of-court comments about judges and their quirks were pretty risky in the fairly closed community, shared use of nicknames was a good communication device. Probably better than long, convoluted sentences. Said the prisoner to the judge.
posted by uncaken at 6:39 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Veterinary technicians do this to the veterinarians they work for all the time. The nickname is not necessarily a pun, but often it is.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:45 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Criminal defense lawyer here. Interestingly, no, I've never heard a judge or a prosecutor called by a nickname. I had a nickname bestowed by a prosecutor who has since retired, but actually that's the only nickname I've heard used.

One thing I do, sort of along those lines, is to turn certain judges' names into verbs, especially ones that issue draconian sentences or go on tirades or something like that. So if I say, of a lawyer who I can tell is walking on thin ice, "he's about to get [judge's last name]ed," people will know the judge is about to go on a tirade, or of a defendant in a sentencing, "he's gonna get [another judge's last name]ed," people in the know would understand that I'm saying the defendant is going to get slammed in his sentence.

That's all I got.
posted by jayder at 7:10 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another criminal defense attorney here. We sometimes assign no-so-flattering nicknames to jerky prosecutors, but it's nothing we'd ever use outside of our own little defense teams.
posted by mikeand1 at 8:10 PM on February 13, 2012

"Grey's Anatomy" of course has McDreamy, but I've no idea if that corresponds with real-life doctor experience.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:15 PM on February 13, 2012

We have a prosecutor, last name Wright, who nobody likes...you can guess the nickname...
posted by Pomo at 11:24 PM on February 13, 2012

Working with lawyers (personal injury), I know there's some judges who have nicknames, though not pun-based.
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:54 AM on February 14, 2012

This is fascinating, thanks for the answers!
posted by something something at 4:44 PM on February 14, 2012

When I had a job last summer that took me to a small-town courthouse regularly, I became friendly with a few of the sheriff's deputies assigned to the front door security there. They had nicknames (some flattering, some very much not) for all of the attorneys who regularly practiced in the building. They specifically did not nicknames for the judges, because it would be disrespectful. The attorneys' nicknames could be based on names, on appearance, or on behavior, but they all had nicknames that were used regularly to refer to the attorneys behind their backs.
posted by decathecting at 6:34 PM on March 11, 2012

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