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May 2017

George Orwell on modern briefwriting

Bryan Garner’s usage tip of the day includes this quotation by George Orwell:

“[M]odern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words [that] have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.”

Is this a good description of bad briefwriting?

New briefing requirement for the La. Second Circuit

If you practice in the Louisiana Second Circuit, here is something you need to know if you don’t want your brief rejected by the clerk of court. Beginning on May 31, every brief filed in the Second Circuit must include the following certification concerning attachments:

I hereby verify that all attachments to this brief have previously been duly filed and/or accepted into evidence in the lower court, to the best of my knowledge, information and belief.  I understand that failure to comply with this local rule may result in the refusal to consider said attachments. WILLFUL FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS LOCAL RULE MAY SUBJECT ME TO PUNISHMENT FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT.

See La. 2d Cir. R. 15 (eff. May 31, 2017). Second Circuit Rule 2-5 has been amended to require the clerk of court to reject any brief that fails to comply with new Rule 15. This amendment, too, takes effect on May 31.

“Bridging the Gap” presentation, written materials, and lagniappe

This morning, I gave my annual presentation on appellate practice at the Louisiana State Bar Association’s “Bridging the Gap” seminar for newly sworn-in lawyers. For those who attended, and for anyone else who may be interested, here are some of the things I used or referred to:

As lagniappe, here are links to two entertaining articles by Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Ninth Circuit:

Finally, make your briefs look better by following this advice on typography: