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October 2006
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Guide to Foreign and International Citations

The N.Y.U. Law School's Journal of International Law & Politics has released its Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citations (pdf, 296 pages). Unlike the Bluebook and the ALWD Manual, the guide "rel[ies] on the source jurisdiction's internal citation system rather than an externally imposed standardized form ..." This allows writers who intend to submit materials to a foreign court or journal to conform their citations to the jurisdiction's own standards. It also allows readers of materials from foreign jurisdictions to understand and interpret the citations. (Hat tip to beSpacific.)

Spanish-language style guide and glossaries

If you write in Spanish, then you'll want to bookmark the U.S. Government's Spanish Language Style Guide and Glossaries. "This new Spanish Style Guide is a resource for government employees, translators, and communications professionals who work with the government to improve the way we communicate with the public in Spanish. The guide contains information on grammar and style issues as well as glossaries to standardize the use of Spanish across government." (Hat tip to beSpacific.)

Plain language in drafting contracts

In an article entitled Plain Language: Drafting and Property Law, Australian law professor Peter Butt advocates plain language in drafting contracts. Why?

  1. Plain language saves money, by reducing the time it takes to read and understand the contract.
  2. Most judges prefer plain language.
  3. More importantly, clients prefer plain language.

I especially enjoyed Prof. Butt's quotation of Lord Justice Harman, describing the task of slogging through an incomprehensible statute:

To reach a conclusion on this matter involved the court in wading through a monstrous legislative morass, staggering from stone to stone and ignoring the marsh gas exhaling from the forest of schedules lining the way on each side. I regarded it at one time, I must confess, as a Slough of Despond through which the court would never drag its feet, but I have by leaping from tussock to tussock as best I might, eventually, pale and exhausted, reached the other side.


Many many years ago, in a case far far away, I drafted a brief that included these two sentences:

As the Supreme Court held in Davis v. Witt, a waived objection cannot be used after an adverse verdict to justify a new trial.  To hold otherwise would countenance sandbagging.

Some folks who were critiquing the brief objected to the word sandbagging; they thought it was too colloquial. To placate them, I rewrote the second sentence to read, "To hold otherwise would countenance what Louisiana courts refer to as 'sandbagging,'" dropping a footnote to cite two Louisiana reported decisions using the word. All the while, I thought that the people doing the critiquing needed to visit a proctologist to have those rods removed from their — oh well, never mind.

Two days ago, I was preparing a CLE presentation for Louisiana pro bono lawyers on preserving errors for appeal. It occurred to me that 90% of preservation of error boils down to one principle: No sandbagging. To explain what sandbagging means, I did some research into the word. Here is some of what I found:

Continue reading "Sandbagging" »

Materials on preserving errors for appellate review

Yesterday, Adams and Reese partner Mark Surprenant and I had the pleasure and privilege of presenting a couple hours' CLE at the Louisiana Justice Community Conference, a program for Louisiana lawyers whose full-time jobs involve providing legal services to the poor. My segment was on preserving errors for appellate review. For attendees and anyone else who may be interested, I've uploaded PDF copies of my written materials and PowerPoint presentation on my other blog, Minor Wisdom. To get there, click here.

If you look at the PowerPoint presentation, you'll see several slides containing the word sandbagging. That word will be the subject of my next post here.