fiscal, procurator-fiscal

I have been watching Shetland lately, a police procedural set, obviously, on the Shetland Islands. One of the words that keeps popping up is fiscal. The detectives talk of referring matters to the fiscal or someone has to fly to Aberdeen to meet with the fiscal office. At first I thought it was just a reference to monetary matters—after all investigations cost money and a high-profile murder case is going to need a lot of that—but it soon became clear that the context the word was used had to do with the prosecution of crimes and matters relating to what in the United States would be handled by a coroner’s office. I had stumbled on a common word that means something quite different in the jargon of the Scottish legal system; fiscal is shorthand for procurator-fiscal, the title given to a prosecutor in Scotland.

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