Don't get me wrong. I love this subject matter. The lawyer's "absent" has been driving me crazy for years, and I love almost any sort of discussion of the OED. My iPod Shuffle contains Simon Winchester's unabridged reading of "The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary." So I'm completely on board with the nerdiness Sasha brings to his reemergence as a VConspirator.
Anyway, Sasha came up with some info on the prepositional use of "absent," which he puts in OED style:
1888 South Western Reporter VIII. 898 If the deed had been made by a stranger to the wife, then a separate estate in her would not have been created, absent the necessary words; but, being made to the wife by the husband, a separate estate, as against him, was the result. 1893 South Western Reporter XII. 629 Absent any evidence to the contrary, a proper and legitimate purpose will be presumed. 1898 South Western Reporter XLV. 303 Absent any one of these ingredients, there is no contract. 1906 South Western Reporter XCIV. 591 Absent one of these ingredients, there is no contract. 1914 South Western Reporter CLXXII. 17 A mere barren and abandoned conspiracy sounding in words, but jejune of acts or results, is not actionable, absent a statute so declaring. 1929 South Western Reporter (2d series) XVIII. 490 Absent a tender of an instruction properly defining said words, it was not error for the court to fail to do so. 1938 Federal Suppl. XXV. 861-62 The design, absent the color and display thereby created, is not more ornamental than many types of similar shoes.This doesn't refute the blog commenter, of course. It demonstrates the ugly lawyer's use of the word. Is it limited to lawyers? It's so often used by lawyers that it's hard to believe it hasn't infected nonlegal writing, but it's still ugly and feels abnormal. I'd recommend avoiding it even in legal writing, precisely because it sounds like legalese.