Monday, October 22, 2012

Don't Write in Crayon

The short opinion in Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp, Inc., 147 F.Supp.2d 668 (S.D.Tex. 2001) on statutes of limitations and the Erie doctrine is worth a read for every lawyer interested in learning what not to do in drafting motions.  Both the plaintiff’s motion and one defendant’s motion suffered from a lack of either supporting authority or analysis.  The dry, sarcastic tone of the entire opinion is hilarious.  My favorite sentence:

Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact—complete with hats, handshakes, and cryptic words—to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed.
Id. at 670.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Continuous or Continual?

Many writers use continuous and continual interchangeably.  These words have different, distinct meanings.  Continuous refers to something that occurs for a period of time without interruption (e.g. that is constant).  Continual refers to something that occurs over a period of time with interruption (e.g. that is periodic).  I remember the differences between these two terms through references to water. 

The tap continually dripped.  The water, however, continuously ran through the hose. 

Drips aren’t constant, they come at intervals, so the word continual is applicable.  Water running through a hose, however, is constant and, therefore, continuous is the appropriate word.  

Monday, October 8, 2012

It's J-U-D-G-M-E-N-T

Dear lawyers:

“Judgement” is not a word.  The proper spelling for the word meaning “a formal decision or opinion of a court” is J-U-D-G-M-E-N-T. 

Thank you for utilizing your spell-check function and spelling this word correctly in the future.