Nolo Comprende

Cidu Bill on Jun 13th 2017


Nolo Contendere, as all geezers old enough to remember Spiro Agnew know, is a legal term meaning “I’m not saying I’m guilty, but I realize you have enough evidence to convict me anyway, so screw it.”

Not sure quite how it applies here, though.

Filed in Bill Bickel, CIDU, Frazz, Jef Mallett, Spiro Agnew, comic strips, comics, humor | 14 responses so far

14 Responses to “Nolo Comprende”

  1. Arthur Jun 13th 2017 at 12:24 am 1

    Another phrasing of Nolo Contendere is “I’m not saying ‘Guilty’,
    and I’m not saying ‘Not guilty’.” Frazz is generalizing it to
    saying neither ‘Yes’ nor ‘No’ (until he has more information).

  2. James Pollock Jun 13th 2017 at 12:34 am 2

    Another way of interpreting “nolo contendre” is “I choose not to answer”.
    It doesn’t literally translate as “no comment”, but the effect is similar.
    Entering a plea of “guilty” requires admitting guilt. Entering a plea of “not guilty” requires going on trial and putting on a defense. Entering a plea of “nolo contendre” means I don’t have the time, effort, expense of a trial, but I don’t admit I was guilty, either. (A guilty plea generally forecloses appeal. and has some PR impact.)

  3. Kilby Jun 13th 2017 at 12:44 am 3

    Back when that plea was entered, I believe the most common English translation was “no contest”, as in “I’m not going to contest the charges.”

  4. John Small Berries Jun 13th 2017 at 02:40 am 4

    When I traded in my first car to a dealership, it reappeared several months later abandoned on the side of the road, and since it was last registered to me, I got a ticket. So I brought my paperwork from the dealership to the court, to prove that it hadn’t been my car for some time.

    The prosecutor came around to talk to everyone who was going to be appearing without an attorney, and when he got to me, he looked at my paperwork and said “Yeah, this looks like it was just a mistake. Tell you what, when it comes time for your case, plead ‘Nolo contendere’, which is a fancy way of saying ‘not guilty’, and you’ll be out of here in no time flat.”

    Now, I did not speak Latin, so by the time it came to me, I had already forgotten the “fancy way of saying ‘not guilty’”, and I just made my plea in English. The prosecutor looked sour for some reason, but the judge agreed that my paperwork was in order, so he voided the ticket and I was free to go.

    A couple weeks later, out of curiosity, I looked through Black’s Law Dictionary to find out what the phrase had been, and discovered it was Latin for “That prosecutor was a real [expletive].”

  5. Kamino Neko Jun 13th 2017 at 03:48 am 5

    Not just an [expletive], but an idiot. Even if nolo contendere can’t normally be appealed in your jurisdiction, I think ‘mistake due to being lied to by the prosecutor’ would override that aspect.

  6. mitch4 Jun 13th 2017 at 09:10 am 6

    As a high school senior I had a fender-bender that was simply my fault. My father, a lawyer, came with me to traffic court, and pleaded me nolo since there was no good reason to get a guilty on my record.

  7. furrykef Jun 13th 2017 at 09:29 am 7

    Dave Barry once joked that “nolo contendere” is Latin for, “Can I pay by check?” (which, funny enough, would be about the worst way to provide “change” for a hundred).

    As for Mr. Spaetzle, I think, as Frazz is apparently trying to point out, that there is more than one possible reason to avoid the question. If he says “yes”, he makes it known that he’s carrying too much money, which could potentially make him a target. If he says “no”, he wouldn’t look as well-off as he would if he were able to say “yes”. And of course some people just consider how much money they’re carrying to be a personal matter without necessarily having a more specific reason.

  8. ja Jun 13th 2017 at 09:41 am 8

    “Nolo contendere” literally means “I will not contest [this change].”

    Caulfield likes to play games. He asks Mr. Spaetzle if he has change for a $100 bill. Now Caulfield does not actually have a $100 bill– he’s just curious to see Mr. Spaetzle’s reaction. Mr. Spaetzle surprises Caulfield by not directly answering his question. This surprises Caulfield because it implies that (1) Mr. Spaetzle has enough cash on him that he does not mind breaking a $100, and (2) Mr. Spaetzle is apparently not surprised that a third-grader is walking around with a $100 bill.

    Frazz is pointing out that there is an alternative interpretation: Mr. Spaetzle realized that Caulfield was not actually looking to change a $100 bill and was just playing another one of his games. “What for” is a way of avoiding the question and game (”I will not contest [you in what is likely a trap]”).

    With Caulfield, like tic-tac-toe and thermonuclear war, the best choice is often not to play at all…

    Mr. Spaetzle won by not playing.

  9. Daniel J. Drazen Jun 13th 2017 at 10:10 am 9

    I wish Spaetzle had answered: “I’m a teacher; what do YOU think?”

  10. James Pollock Jun 13th 2017 at 10:23 am 10

    “I wish Spaetzle had answered: ‘I’m a teacher; what do YOU think?’”

    Isn’t Spaetzle an administrator?

  11. Powers Jun 13th 2017 at 10:33 am 11

    “all geezers old enough to remember Spiro Agnew”

    Surely you don’t mean to imply that there are geezers too young to remember Spiro Agnew? (I hope.)

  12. Kamino Neko Jun 13th 2017 at 12:39 pm 12

    Agnew’s heyday was 4 years before I was born, and I’m not exactly a spring chicken (though not quite a geezer yet), so a young geezer could definitely be too young to remember him.

  13. Winter Wallaby Jun 13th 2017 at 01:06 pm 13

    JSB #4: I have trouble understanding how that was going to work for the prosecutor, particularly if he did it regularly. If you had remembered the Latin, I would think it would have gone like this:

    JSB: I plead “Nolo contendere”
    Judge: OK, then you have to pay $500.
    JSB: Wait, what? Why do I have to pay a fine after pleading not guilty?
    Judge (to prosecutor): Why does this happen every time you’re here?

  14. Bob in Nashville Jun 15th 2017 at 06:57 am 14

    Or for the common folk, nolo contendre could mean “This frivolous charge is more trouble and expense to fight than to just pay the fine and go on.”

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