On advice of counsel

This headline and lead gave me pause, as it probably did for many readers. The problem is in the verb: continue.

“To continue” and “continuance” in the legal sense are not the same as we use them in conversation. One legal glossary, for example, defines “continuance” this way:

Adjournment of the proceedings in a case from one day to another.

In news stories, the word usually means that a hearing or trial has been pushed back on the calendar. But what everyday word works best in place of this bit of legal jargon? With legal matters, it’s especially important that we are precise.

I asked a friend, a copy editor turned lawyer turning law librarian, for some advice. Here’s her response:
I’d go with “postponed” because “continuance” literally means you are moving the trial (or appearance or whatever) to a new definite date (the judge always picks the new date when granting the continuance). So “put off” might make it sound like something less definite — like the trial has been put off and we don’t know when or whether it will actually happen.

So ordered. More on continuances here.