The cogent explanation of the phrase “go hence without day” has been used by many attorneys throughout their legal careers, but few attorneys know the meaning of this historic phrase.
In Ball v. Genesis Outsourcing Solutions, LLC, the 3rd District Court of Appeal graciously provided the following to resolve the mystery of the historic phrase:
[The] last expression, “go hence without day” is properly used only in a judgment for a defendant; it should not be used in a judgment for a plaintiff. A little history explains why. The phrase refers back to the time when the trial judges in Florida actually rode circuit (which is why they are called “circuit” courts). Before permanent county courthouses were built and staffed, the judge, clerk, and often lawyers traveled together in a cavalcade of horses and mules carrying court records and portable legal libraries from county seat to county seat, where the court would sit to hear actions. The clerk issued summonses to local defendants ordering them to appear from day to day until the case against them was heard. If the defendant prevailed, the judgment would discharge the defendant from the summons by using the traditional language “defendant shall go hence without day” which indicated that there was no further date when the defendant was required to appear. The phrase goes back to medieval English practice when dismissal was indicated by the Latin legal expression “quod eat sine die”---“that he go hence without day.” Even today, by the way, the Legislature ends its daily work with a motion to adjourn and reconvene at a particular date and time until the end of the last day of the session when the motion is made to adjourn “sine die.”