Law Review Article as Judicial Opinion

Although Section 1983/parent rights suits are something of a subspecialty of mine, there is no freaking way I'm reading Green v. Camreta, 06-35333 (9th Cir. Dec. 10. 2009) (here).  It's 43 pages.  There is no way in the world a parental rights case should be so lengthy.  Why so long?

Judge Berzon "authored" the opinion - which means one of her law clerks wrote it.  Judge Berzon gets the Yalies.  Yalies, when writing, are more interested in self-indulgence than reader edification. [This does not apply to you, Will B. - Mike.]  The law clerk had a chance to publish a law review article in the F.3d.  And thus we're stuck with it.

Number One Rule of writing: Write for your readers, not for yourself.  Unless you're Tiger Woods, no one wants to read your diary.  No one cares about your innermost thoughts.  Don't believe me?  Start a biographical, self-indulgent blog.  See how many readers you get.  The marketplace of readers is ruthless.

A good judicial opinion should clearly state the legally-operative facts; state the rule; apply the rule; and reach a conclusion.  The opinion should be written with authority.  No mealy-mouthed language, or endless "on the other hands."

The "on one hand, on the other hand" stuff is for law review articles - where not offending the reader is more important than taking a stand.

1 comments:

  Anonymous

8:23 AM

Is there a three way circuit split involving this case?