March 04, 2004

The Legal Equal of Pining for the Fjords

IN YET ANOTHER DISPLAY of our peculiarly odd sense of humor, we must share this story from The New York Times with our readers. We must also give Times scribe Adam Liptak major style points for his particular choice of words and quotes.

Mr Liptak informs us that judges are beginning to politely suggest (by which we mean, "cruelly mock in public documents") that lawyers whose writing is at best subpar ought to improve their skills with the pen. We first read his story at the office today, and the following quote from it sent us into such hysterics that we were unable to do any work for a good fifteen minutes. Indeed, our sides ached, we laughed so hard.

Mr Liptak writes:

The judge, Gregory K. Orme, wrote in a dissent in a zoning case that he had been persuaded of the plaintiff's position in spite of rather than because of its filings. He chastised the plaintiff's lawyer, Stephen G. Homer, for his "unrestrained and unnecessary use of the bold, underline, and 'all caps' functions of word processing or his repeated use of exclamation marks to emphasize points in his briefs."

"While I appreciate a zealous advocate as much as anyone, such techniques, which really amount to a written form of shouting, are simply inappropriate in an appellate brief," Judge Orme continued. "It is counterproductive for counsel to litter his brief with burdensome material such as "WRONG! WRONG ANALYSIS! WRONG RESULT! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!"

Mr Homer declined to comment, the Times said. This is a shame, for we here at The Rant want to know if this "zoning case" was actually an argument over a dead parrot.

Mr Liptak also notes that a second judge -- to be fair, the main focus of the story -- docked a lawyer over $30,000 for his badly-written legal briefs.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at March 4, 2004 06:01 PM | TrackBack