Legal Writing

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An Unusual Penalty

The New York Times Topics blog has a post today on prepositional phrases and how they can result in unintentional comedy if you aren't careful.  This is common in legal writing, too, and one of the NYT's examples has a…


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Taster’s Choice Follow-Up: Is “Youthened” A Word?

A reader has suggested that maybe the most noteworthy thing about the Christoff decision is that "the California Supreme Court thinks 'youthened' is a legitimate verb."  See Christoff v. Nestle USA, Inc., No. S155242, slip op. at 3 (Cal. Aug….


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Law Review Article Titles: Stop the Madness

I know there are a lot of examples of this kind of thing out there, unfortunately, but I just happened to come across this one recently: YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDNEYING ME!: The Fatal Problem of Severing Rights and Remedies…


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“Confusion Flakes” Cited As Grounds for Reversal

Here's something I came across the other day while doing some research.  After he was found liable for fraud, among other things, John Ryan appealed but presented little in the way of legal arguments or authority in his appellate briefing. …


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Rule 8 Invoked Against 465-Page Complaint

Rarely granted is the Motion for More Definite Statement under Federal Rule 8(a), which requires complaints to contain "a short and plain statement of the claim" being made.  But now we know it is appropriate at least where a plaintiff…


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Police Stop of Ax-Wielding Bike Rider Found Justified

In a classic opinion of which I have just learned, the California Court of Appeal ruled in 1998 that police were in fact justified in detaining a man they saw on a bicycle at 3:00 in the morning, primarily because…


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Ninth Circuit Applies “Slubby Mass” Rule to Dismiss Appeal

On November 29, the Ninth Circuit again applied the Slubby Mass Rule to reject an appellant’s brief and dismiss the appeal.  In case you did not learn this one in law school, this rule provides that any pleading presented to…


Being a Judge in South Padre Island Is Entertaining

Judge David Colwell has written and published a book recounting anecdotes from his ten years on the bench of South Padre Island Municipal Court. Called “Spring Break: A Judge’s View from the Bench,” the book describes all the human drama…


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Sentence Enhancement Imposed for Bullshit

Hot off the presses, and from a source who I think would like to remain nameless (tell me if you don’t, source), comes the first known example of a defendant’s sentence being enhanced because he is a bullshitter. Judge Stewart…


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Latest Example of “Law Clerk Bingo”

Whoever wrote the concurring and dissenting opinion for Ninth Circuit Judge Fernandez in Southern Union Co. v. Southwest Gas Corp. has scored many points in the game of who can get the most ridiculous words into a judicial opinion. The case…