Legal Writing

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“To F— This Court and Everything That It Stands For”

What was I just saying about the bottomless well of human stupidity? (That's the well I was talking about.) The examples are both endless and varied. Here's another brief, for example. At only nine pages, this one is well within…


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NoYouCantWriteABriefLikeThisToGetAroundTheWordLimit

People sometimes ask where I find "all this stuff" as if there were a limited amount of such material. There is not. It is endless. The well is deep, my friends. Nay, do not seek the bottom, for it cannot…


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Judge Criticizes “Behemoth Pleadings”

Here are some words & phrases that you really don't want a judge to apply to anything you file: sprawling behemoth surplusage larded with brims with masquerading as voluminous breathtaking madness chokes the docket intended to overwhelm labyrinthian prolixity of…


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Minor Wordfoolery, Way Updated

I was pleased to see that far more respectable personage Prof. Eugene Volokh also noticed and commented yesterday on Justice Kagan’s use of “way” as an adverb in the Omnicare case. (I mentioned it at the end of this post.) It was…


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Court: Obligation to Make Sense May Not Be Delegated to Client

Here's a more interesting decision by the Supreme Court, although maybe "decision" is the wrong word. The question is: if your client insists on filing something that is complete gibberish, do you have to agree, or do you  have an…


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Minor Wordfoolery in Today’s Supreme Court Opinion

Surely, not since “Holy $h*t, Man Walks on #&*ing Moon” has there been such a riveting headline, but hey, I noticed this and here it is. This is my three-thousand-three-hundred-and-fifty-first post, cut me some slack here. The Omnicare opinion released today…


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Tenth Circuit Forced to Diagram Congressional Sentence

"Few statutes have proven as enigmatic as 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)," says the Tenth Circuit to kick off its opinion in United States v. Rentz. Hard to see what it's complaining about: (c) (1) (A) Except to the extent that a…


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Court Suggests Plaintiff Could Have Grounded His Brain

A statement in a judicial opinion that isn't necessary to the holding is called a dictum (pl. dicta), and isn't technically binding (though it may or may not be persuasive). Here's a good example of that from a 1976 federal case (thanks,…


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Could Someone Ask Bobby Chen to Call the U.S. Supreme Court?

The Court was planning to hear his case, but now it can't find him. Of course there are lots of Bobby Chens out there, but the Court is interested in the Bobby Chen who filed this petition for certiorari (via SCOTUSblog) that…


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Whom the Gods Would Destroy, They First Make Mad

There are many great lines Justice Fergus O’Donnell’s opinion in R. v. Duncan (2013), which was an otherwise unremarkable case except that the defendant tried to run one of those “sovereign citizen” defenses up the flagpole. That didn’t go so well:…