Wednesday, April 14, 2004

On legal writing and civility

Marcia Oddi has this worthwhile post about an opinion by a magistrate judge cracking down on the incivility and hyperbole in a brief.

I've read some briefs (or worse, heard oral argument) more or less like what the magistrate judge described, targeted straight at me, and it bothers me when it happens, but once in a blue moon, I see some evidence that not everyone regards me as a "blind pig." A few years back, I got a call from a young lawyer down in Johnson City, who said that his boss had told him that he'd got in a Miller Act complaint written by me, and he didn't understand why the case was styled as it was (The United States for the use . . .), but if I wrote it there must be a good reason for it, and so he wanted the associate to call me up for an explanation (which I gave). Another time I recall a judge turning to me in some motion hearing and saying essentially this: "since you're here, I expect you're going to tell me that you've got some redhot law that says the opposite." (And, I did.)

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