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Check the Spell-Check:
This is really funny. My favorite line from the brief: "It is well settled that a trial court must instruct sea sponge on any defense, including a mistake of fact defense." Indeed. Thanks to Crime & Federalism for the link.
Hoosier:
As a student(we're going back a ways now) my word processing program had a built in political correctness feature in its spell check. Thus, I was warned every time I typed the name of my school that the word "dame" is considered offensive, and here is a list of substitutes.

A bit of a problem, since I was at Notre Dame. Sorry, Notre Woman.

Years ago I saw an article claiming that a law firm had similar software, and had sent paperwork to their client, who was re-named Mr. African American. The story was in a semi-legit newspaper--the Chicago Sun Times--but this seemed a bit of an urban legend to me.
3.2.2006 1:42pm
JB:
I heard the last one as a newspaper headline about economic performance, "Back in the African-American."
3.2.2006 1:54pm
Guest2 (mail):
Spell-check is a snare and a delusion.
3.2.2006 1:54pm
Sean M.:
My 7th and 8th grade English teacher gave us a poem that touched on this problem:

"I have a spelling checker
It came with my PC
It planely marks for my revue
Mistakes I can knot sea
I ran this poem thru it
And I'm sure yule bee glad two no
Its letter perfect in it's weigh
My checker told me sew."
3.2.2006 2:00pm
Goobermunch:
When I was a law clerk for the Colorado Court of Appeals, I encountered at least one brief that referred throughout to "the pubic defender."

--G
3.2.2006 2:07pm
Steve:
My college newspaper referred to Nelson Mandela as an "African-American," although it was probably attributable to general thoughtlessness rather than spellcheck.
3.2.2006 2:13pm
Houston Lawyer:
You would think that there would be a lawyers version of spell check that you could down-load somewhere. I don't believe the English language has gotten so large that Word can't handle it on spell check.

As someone who was taught typing on a manual typewriter, I have always preferred WordPerfect, which was written for people who learned to type as I did. However, Bill Gates and his minions have successfully killed that one off.

Every time I get a new computer, I have to go and substantially revise the Word default provisions. I prefer that the Computer format as I tell it, not as someone else thinks I should.
3.2.2006 3:09pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Steve, I remember some sportscaster referring to a medalist at the last (2002) Winter Olympics as "the first African-American from any country" to win a medal in the Winter Games.

Goobermunch, allegedly a press release early in the first Clinton term offered "free and pubic tours of the White House."

Today's Lesson: Proofread what you publish, already!
3.2.2006 3:14pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
Word Perfect is still around, I'm using it write now! It's owned by Corel. It's up to at least version 12.
3.2.2006 3:15pm
Houston Lawyer:
bornyesterday

I realize that WordPerfect is still around. However, since I now make all of my document distributions by email, my clients need to be able to read my documents on their computers. The only people I know that use WordPerfect are other lawyers and MicroSoft has always made sure that Word won't conveniently convert WordPerfect documents.
3.2.2006 3:38pm
Geek Lawyer:

When I was a law clerk for the Colorado Court of Appeals, I encountered at least one brief that referred throughout to "the pubic defender."


If you use Microsoft word, and you're a lawyer, I'd recommend that you create an "exclude" dictionary, so that words that are uncommon in (most) legal documents but are in fact words are flagged in spell check -- the two words that leap to mind are "statue" and "pubic" (though it's probably best also to include statues, statue's, and pubic's).

It's a rare brief where I will need to refer to "pubic" anything, or to contrue a "statue," so I'm happy to have those flagged as misspellings, and to deal with those unusual situations when they arrive.
3.2.2006 3:40pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
HL

I've never had a problem getting WP to save files to Word format. I used it all through college and often had to submit papers by email in .doc format. Unless you are using a large number of stylization things -- bullets, tables, images, etc -- the there is no loss of formatting by doing a Save As and then choosing the most up-to-date Word formated document (I have up to Word 2003 since I haven't updated WP in a while). However, trying to open Word documents created by someone else using Word can still be tricky with the simplest things (apostrophes and quotes sometimes get fubared).
3.2.2006 4:00pm
Geek Lawyer:
oops, meant in my earlier comment to offer a link to instructions on how to create an exclude file for Microsoft Word.
3.2.2006 4:01pm
Steve - History Buff:
I trust my dictionary more than spell check. Lawyers should probably have a spell check add-on with Latin and legal terms. Does Word Perfect come with one or is it flawed like Word?
3.2.2006 4:22pm
Justin_F (mail):
Word's spell check is really insufficient for the legal industry... there should really be an add-on. But what's worse is when it automatically changes real words - for example, from tortious interference to tortuous interference.
3.2.2006 6:49pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Justin_F,

Does it really do that unless you specifically order it not to? Man. There's nothing like having a clueless super-editor living inside your computer.
3.2.2006 6:59pm
Adam:
In a college newspaper, for an all-girls school, referring to bone marrow testing, the paper said: "Approximately 300 girls went to get testes..."
Unfortunately for them, spellcheck didn't pick it up
3.2.2006 7:18pm
Avi (mail):
This attorney's not alone in this error. Check out the first page.
3.2.2006 7:43pm
NickM (mail) (www):
That beats the complaint I read years ago for Tortoise Interference with Contract.

Nick
3.3.2006 1:40pm
Stephen Quist (mail):
Word keeps custom dictionaries in plain text files. You can add dictionaries of common words pretty easily (Tools | Options | Spelling &Grammar | Custom Dictionaries). It wouldn't be terribly hard for someone to set up a custom dictionary of law terms. Then spelling correction would be available even for truly misspelled law terms. Maybe there's even a cottage industry or internet market for such dictionaries.

FWIW, I heartily endorse the suggestion that everyone be responsible for his own spelling and take extra care with automated spell checkers.
3.3.2006 4:08pm