Fishing expedition

Fishing expedition is a s _co. legal term often encountered in the United States and other similar legal systems (and especially prevalent in TV and movie dramas). It is normally used by the defense to cynically refer to the prosecution's attempt to undertake more intrusive searches of a defendant's premises, person, or possessions when (in the defense's view) there is insufficient probable cause to carry out such a search. The term is sometimes also used in civil litigation when one party's attorney orders extensive discovery, which can delay the resolution of the case and increase the cost of litigating the matter. The metaphor likens this to a fishing trip where, if one casts a wide enough net, they are bound to score something, regardless of whether the information is significant or not (like trawling up an old boot from the river).


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  • fishing expedition — fish·ing ex·pe·di·tion / ˌek spə di shən/ n 1: an inquiry (as by the use of discovery) that is unnecessarily extensive or unrelated to the lawsuit 2: an investigation that does not stick to a stated objective but hopes to uncover incriminating or …   Law dictionary

  • fishing expedition — n. An investigation searching for evidence of wrongdoing, with no credible evidence of such wrongdoing available at the outset of the investigation, and often without specifying in advance the wrongdoing to be proven. [metaphorical] [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • fishing expedition — noun an investigation undertaken in the hope (but not the stated purpose) of discovering information • Hypernyms: ↑probe, ↑investigation * * * noun 1. : a legal proceeding carried on for the primary purpose of interrogating an adversary or… …   Useful english dictionary

  • fishing expedition — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms fishing expedition : singular fishing expedition plural fishing expeditions informal an attempt to find out more information by asking a lot of questions …   English dictionary

  • fishing expedition —    If someone is on a fishing expedition, they are trying to obtain information in any way possible.     The lunch invitation was clearly a fishing expedition to obtain information about his private life …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • fishing expedition — n. an exploratory search for facts. (This involves asking questions with no preconceived notion of what the answers might reveal.) □ The lawyer was on a fishing expedition. There was no real wrong committed to justify a lawsuit. □ Your honor,… …   Dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions

  • fishing expedition —    an attempt to obtain gratuitous information    Not knowing what you may catch, as crossexamining counsel, detective, journalist, or spy. Also as fishing trip:     ... things that an investigative fishing expedition into the break in could… …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

  • fishing expedition —  An enquiry into an issue without a developed plan.  ► “This type of unplanned search for interesting findings has been called many things, from data sifting to a systematic fishing expedition.” (Marketing News, April 25, 1994, p. 4) …   American business jargon

  • fishing expedition — fishing trip or expedition Using the courts to find out information beyond the fair scope of the lawsuit. The loose, vague, unfocused questioning of a witness or the overly broad use of the discovery process. Discovery sought on general, loose,… …   Black's law dictionary

  • fishing expedition — fishing expe,dition noun count INFORMAL an attempt to find out more information by asking a lot of questions …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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