I accompanied a client of mine who was sentenced to a term of probation to the probation office to complete some necessary paperwork. When asked to sign some documents acknowledging his responsibilities while on probation, my client noticed that the signature line was labeled 'PROBATIONER'. He asked whether he should sign in that spot, since, in his mind, he was the "probationee", not the "probationer".
The more I think about it, the more I believe my client is right.
After all, the person on the receiving end of a service is almost universally known as the "TERMee". Someone who is being trained is the trainee. A person who attends an event is an attendee. To work for another makes one an employee. This lexicon also follows through in other aspects of law:
- A person who takes possession of the property of another with the understanding that it will later be returned is known as a bailee.
- Someone on parole is a parolee.
- To enter the property of another upon request would render the person entering an invitee.
Why, then, is a person serving a term of probation under the supervision of a probation officer called a "probationer"? Shouldn't a person on probation be a probationee, much like a person of parole is a parolee? (As you read these questions, please imagine the voice of Jerry Seinfeld).
My client and I brought this anomaly to the attention of the probation officer who asked my client to complete the form. The probation officer was mildly amused, but could not offer any explanation that shed insight on the issue, other than to say that someone in Trenton might know the answer because that's where the forms are designed.
There must be some logical reason for this oddity. While we're at it, shouldn't someone serving time who escapes from his place of confinement be an "escaper" not an "escapee"?
Tags: Probation • probation officer • probationer
The postings on this blog were created for general informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or a solicitation to provide legal services. Although we attempt to ensure that the postings are complete, accurate, and current as of the time of publication, we assume no responsibility for their completeness, accuracy, or timeliness. The information in this blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.
This blog may contain links to independent third party websites and services, including social media. We provide these links for your convenience, and you access them at your own risk. We have no control over and do not monitor the content or policies (including privacy policies) of these third-party websites and have no responsibility for, and no liability with respect to, their content, accuracy, or reliability. Unless expressly stated, we do not endorse any of the linked websites or any product, service, or publication referenced herein or therein. We will remove a link to any site from this blog upon request of the linked entity.
We grant permission to readers to link to this blog so long as this blog is not misrepresented. This site is not sponsored or associated with any other site unless so identified.
If you wish for Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A., to consider representing you, please obtain contact information from the Contact Us area of this blog or go to the firm’s website at www.wilentz.com. One of our lawyers will be happy to discuss the possibility of representation with you. However, the authors of Wilentz blogs are licensed only in New Jersey and/or New York and do not wish to represent anyone who viewed this site in a state where the site fails to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state.