Kendall Gray on blockhead quotations
PEEL your argument.

Watch your language.

In a recent decision, the U.S. Fourth Circuit reminds us to avoid disrespectful language in our briefs:

Finally, we feel compelled to note that advocates, including government lawyers, do themselves a disservice when their briefs contain disrespectful or uncivil language directed against the district court, the reviewing court, opposing counsel, parties, or witnesses.... Unfortunately, the government’s brief is replete with such language: it disdains the district court’s “abrupt handling” of Appellant’s first case ...; sarcastically refers to Appellant’s previous counsel’s “new-found appreciation for defendant’s mental abilities,” ...; criticizes the district court’s “oblique language” on an issue unrelated to this appeal ...; states that the district court opinion in Jones “revealed a crabby and complaining reaction to Project Exile,” ...; insinuates that the district court’s concerns “require[ ] a belief in the absurd that is similar in kind to embracing paranormal conspiracy theories,” ...; and accuses Appellant of being a “charlatan” and “exploit[ing] his identity as an African-American,” .... The government is reminded that such disrespectful and uncivil language will not be tolerated by this court.

U.S. v. Venable, No. 11-4216 n. 4 (4th Cir. Jan. 18, 2012). The lesson: If you think you have rapier wit, keep it sheathed when writing your brief.

(Hat tip to Martin Stern.)