I’ve really slacked on blog posts lately. But I do have two articles that were published recently. In November, I wrote an article on “Current Class-Action Issues.” And today my article on “Cleaning Up Quotations in Legal Writing” appeared in the ABA’s Appellate Practice newsletter. Hope they’re helpful!
A big congrats to all the honorees for this year’s Web 100! The ABA Journal has changed things up a bit. This used to be an honor reserved for the top 100 legal blogs (i.e., “blawgs”), but this year they decided to start honoring other forms of digital media. So the list now includes 50 blawgs, 25 law-related podcasts, and 25 law-related Twitter feeds.
Personally, I think it would’ve been cool for the #AppellateTwitter community to have received collective recognition under the hashtag. Maybe next year. For now, there are a bunch of #AppellateTwitter regulars on the list, including Chief Judge Stephen Dillard (@JudgeDillard); SCOTUS reporter Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner); legal-writing guru Ross Guberman (@legalwritingpro); law profs Rachel Gurvich (@RachelGurvich) and Elizabeth Joh (@elizabeth_joh); and yours truly (@5thCircAppeals). Go follow!
And you should definitely check out the top-25 podcasts, too!
I got curious and pulled up a bunch of cases to look at when plaintiffs have Article III standing to sue based on a data breach that has exposed personal information. Note: this was not an exhaustive search, and this is not an extensive analysis. But here’s what I found.
Decided to post links to some of my Twitter threads, because most of these threads could (and maybe should) have been blog posts.
[listed in reverse chronological order]
On the Gorsuch nomination & whether the Democrats should filibuster: 3/20/17
Explaining the legal/policy issue of selling insurance “across state lines”: 3/7/17
A primer on class actions and why we have them: 2/16/17
On the case challenging the scope of Obergefell at SCOTX: 2/13/17
On federalism: 1/30/17
On work-life “balance”: 1/11/17
On appeals, standards of review, and reversal rates: 12/20/16
Some post-election thoughts about the Electoral College: 11/21/16
On judicial vacancies left unfilled: 11/18/16
On court-packing, reverse-court-packing, and constitutional norms: 10/26/16
The thread that launched the #AppellateTwitter coffee mugs: 10/22/16
On Flannery O’Connor & wanting to be an appellate lawyer: 9/14/16
Remembering where I was on 9/11: 9/11/16
On alternative-fee arrangements for appellate work: 9/6/16
On doing pro bono to get appellate experience: 8/23/16
The now-(in)famous thread on the social function of humor: 8/9/16
On RBG expressing political opinions: 7/13/16
On whether current SCOTUS can be called a “liberal” court: 6/28/16
And last but not least, the Twitter version of my life story: 10/23/16
I found 25 cases from the past 10 years, involving labor or employment claims, where Judge Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion. Here’s a quick overview of how those cases turned out.
The last couple months have been busy. In addition to the holidays, I argued at the Fifth Circuit; published two articles at The Huffington Post (here and here); produced a podcast episode on appellate practice for the ABA’s Sound Advice series; gave a presentation to the Dallas Bar Association (about the post-election Supreme Court and Trump’s list of possible nominees); participated in a panel discussion about e-briefs and legal writing at the annual meeting of the Council of Chief Judges of State Courts of Appeal (in North Carolina); was cited on SCOTUSblog and the Appellate Advocacy Blog (both here and here); and was quoted by Bloomberg (here, here, here, and here), CNN, and the Winnipeg Free Press.
This month I’ve got an article forthcoming in Texas Lawbook (about the Garland fiasco and Trump’s possible SCOTUS nominees); I’ll be in Austin on January 20, leading a workshop on legal writing at Lawyer Forward; and I’ll be in Utah January 21-24.
I’ve been wanting to write this post for some time. Inherited wisdom says you can’t use contractions in legal writing because it’s too informal. Poppycock. There’s nothing wrong with using contractions. Like anything else (e.g., em dashes, semicolons, commas, capitalization, boldface for emphasis), you shouldn’t over-use them. But contractions are a perfectly acceptable tool to include in your legal writing toolbox. Don’t believe me? Let’s consult the authorities.
Judge Gorsuch of the Tenth Circuit is in the news lately as a short-lister for the Supreme Court vacancy. (See here and here, and my previous post here.) Gorsuch would be a great pick and a fitting replacement for Justice Scalia because, like Scalia, Gorsuch is known for his clean, incisive, and sometimes witty or colorful writing.
Almost two years ago (2/15), Gorsuch wrote an en-banc opinion in United States v. Rentz that I saved because it provides a great example of using sentence diagramming to facilitate statutory interpretation. In other words, it’s a great example of using a visual image to advance an argument.
Rentz is about criminal sentencing and interpreting section 924(c). Here’s a screenshot from the opinion:
I’ve done this in a case involving contract interpretation, and it can be very effective—especially when dealing with a complicated statutory or contract provision that contains lists or has lots of subordinate clauses. It’s also the sort of thing I could see Scalia doing. (Seriously, he probably did it numerous times over the 30 years he sat on the Court, and I’m just not remembering those opinions.)
Anyway, while everyone’s talking about the SCOTUS vacancy and Gorsuch as a short-lister, I thought I’d throw this out there as something to remember in your brief writing. And the whole opinion is worth reading for examples of good writing.
Lots of chatter out there about the future of the Supreme Court in the wake of Trump winning the presidency. Here are some of my thoughts.
First, regarding the current Court: Assuming Clinton would win the presidency, I was predicting Garland would be confirmed to fill Scalia’s vacancy and Ginsburg would retire in 2017 (maybe 2018)—with Breyer possibly retiring shortly thereafter, before Clinton’s first term was over. The Court would shift to the left with the addition of Garland, but no other shift would occur unless Clinton could win a second term. If that happened, Clinton likely would have replaced Kennedy—and maybe even Thomas—and this would have produced a second significant shift leftward. But now all of this is vapor.
There’s something interesting happening at the Supreme Court. Read my article at The Huffington Post for details.