When judges get cute

By Jason Wojciechowski on March 14, 2006 at 12:19 AM

For Civil Procedure tomorrow, we had to read excerpts from an appellate opinion in the "A Civil Action" case, Anderson v. Cryovac. The opinion is at 862 F.2d 910, and can I just say that it's remarkable? The judge (Selya) must have known that Jonathan Harr was following this story around for his book, because he threw in his best writerly touches and his best showoff vocabulary. Some samples:

  • "We eschew an exigetic presentation of the litigation's history ..." p. 913
  • "This parcel is a cynosure of the case." p. 913
  • "Soon thereafter, a new cloud darkened the horizon ..." p. 915
  • "The adoption of the Civil Rules put an end to this desuetude." p. 915
  • "To explain, we turn first to the propriety of the paralipomena." p. 917
  • "In light of this unmistakable potential for amphiboly ..." p. 917
  • "To drive the final nail, we note that when the judge, following the charge, asked for objections at sidebar, plaintiffs' counsel registered no opposition to the interrogatory." p. 918
  • "Especially where, as here, plaintiffs bear a lion's share of the responsibility for the infelicitous phrasing ..." p. 918 (A lion, a bear, and "infelicitous?" Wow.)
  • "We do not believe that preservation of the claimed error referable to pre-1968 contamination saved the plaintiffs' bacon." p. 918
  • "Inasmuch as plaintiffs accepted and endorsed the interrogatory as submitted, they cannot now complain that they were caught in its toils." p. 918
  • "Not easily daunted, appellants asseverate that ..." p. 919
  • "By answering the four-part interrogatory with an unbroken skein of 'noes,' ..." p. 919
  • "We limn the pertinent testimony." p. 920
  • "We need ride this horse no further." p. 921
  • " ... elsewise it would be pleonastic ..." p. 923
  • "Once we leave the starting gate, the borders of the course blur." p. 923
  • "Our sister circuits have set some guideposts along the track ..." p. 923
  • " ... spoliators would almost certainly benefit from having destroyed the documents ..." p. 925
  • " ... need only carry that devoir of persuasion ..." p. 926
  • " ... overwhelming evidence, to call a spade a spade ... " p. 927
  • "There is no need for us to determine how many angels danced on the head of that particular pin ... " p. 927
  • " ... Beatrice played possum ... " p. 928
  • " ... possibility that further undisclosed information lurked in the shadows." p. 929
  • "Sensitive to the unseemliness of grilling fellow attorneys ... " p. 930
  • "Nor was this some fribbling matter of marginal relevance." p. 930
  • "The second string to appellants' bow is markedly more resilient." p. 931
  • "This exhortation strikes us as idle persiflage." p. 931

I have no further comment.

Technorati: A Civil Action, Law School, Civil Procedure.