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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

So, the Pope, a Rabbi, and a Supreme Court Justice walk into a bar . . .

Yep, they're discussing funny judicial opinions over at Volokh

Funny, of course, being a relative thing.  None of the opinions discussed are rolling-in-the-aisles funny; Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien have about as much to fear from Antonin Scalia as they do from Laura Bush.  But legal writing being what it usually is, we'll take what we can get. 

One side note -- per Volokh's rules, that thread is limited to Supreme Court cases.  Thus, no one could cite Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp, which includes such lines as:

Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. 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. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions.

With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor's edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins.

Well, we're not so persnickety over here.  So please feel free to use the comments to point out any other gems of humor in district, circuit, or state court opinions that we really ought to see.

Posted by Kaimi Wenger on May 4, 2005 at 06:59 PM in Odd World | Permalink


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The Volokh Conspiracy is putting together a list of the funniest passages in Supreme Court opinions (check the comments). My personal favorites: [Read More]

Tracked on May 5, 2005 12:25:33 AM


Brick Red is more readable than Golden Rod. If you want more go to http://www.lawhaha.com and check the strange judicial opinions link.

Posted by: Joel | May 5, 2005 10:21:30 AM

From the hot off the presses 7th Circuit Court of Appeals case USA v. Murphy:

"The trial transcript quotes Ms. Hayden as saying Murphy called her a snitch bitch "hoe." A 'hoe,' of course, is a tool used for weeding and gardening. We think the court reporter, unfamiliar with rap music (perhaps thankfully so), misunderstood Hayden's response. We have taken the liberty of changing 'hoe' to 'ho,' a staple of rap music vernacular as, for example, when Ludacris raps 'You doin' ho activities with ho tendencies.'"

Wheeee, this is fun!

Posted by: David Schraub | May 5, 2005 12:27:48 AM

Amos, I think it's Judge Kent from Galveston. Steve Lubet dressed him down in an article in Green Bag called Bullying from the Bench or something like that.
The best judicial humor that I can think of off the top of my head is the Kozinski-Volokh stuff on Yiddish in the courts and the brief that circulated between Mark Kleiman's blog and someone else's on a drecky brief.

Posted by: Dan | May 4, 2005 11:21:32 PM

Actually, Kaimi, I don't think Bradshaw is all that funny. That judge (can't remember his name) is known for that kind of thing, I think, and the judge I clerked for convinced me that there is no place for that kind of high-horse, finger-wagging, fun-poking at lawyers.

Yes, lawyers do stupid and amateurish things, and sometimes they deserve reprimands. Once in a while, even serious reprimands or public shaming. But this judge just gets a kick out of using his "wit" to put people down in a really nasty way. You might expect that in some places, but not from the bench.

Posted by: amosanon1 | May 4, 2005 9:33:08 PM

There's the one where Judge Painter blames William The Conqueror for bad legal writing...

Posted by: Paul Gowder | May 4, 2005 8:17:15 PM

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