pageok
pageok
pageok
"Put Down the Thesaurus and Step Away from the Opinion":

South Carolina Appellate Law Blog's reaction to this line:

The cognoscenti of health care nomology trust and rely upon Peer Review Statutes as the quiddity and hypostasis of the hospital/physician relationship. The quintessence and elixir of the peer review process is confidentiality.

Happyshooter:
My guess: Either someone's clerk was having fun or one of the lawyers got carried away in his brief and the court was firing back.
4.25.2008 10:02am
DiverDan (mail):
I never trust a judge that is more concerned with demonstrating his own erudition than in clearly and concisely explaining the basis of his ruling.
4.25.2008 10:07am
Dennis Nolan (mail):
Judge Anderson is notorious in SC for just this sort of foolishness. One of my colleagues refers to him as "Judge Prolix." It seems as if he goes out of his way to make his opinions virtually unreadable. Legal writing teachers could use them as examples of how NOT to write.
4.25.2008 10:23am
LarryA (mail) (www):
As an author I hate the idea of dumbing down writing so readers won't have to stretch their vocabulary.

But this is...what's the legal term for "crap?"
4.25.2008 11:12am
andy (mail) (www):
Big words make you sounds smart, though.
4.25.2008 11:27am
Temp Guest (mail):
What a pompous ass!
4.25.2008 11:40am
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
The problem isn't big words. The problem is wrong and superfluous words.
4.25.2008 11:46am
Dave N (mail):
I am with Dennis Nolan. Legal writing is vastly unappreciated in the legal acadame. Law schools teach legal writing in an abysmal manner--typically using non-tenure track instructors often assisted by 3Ls with no real experience in writing, either.

While other professions use peer review and edited publications, we entrust 3Ls with the responsibility of determining what is worth printing--and to do this they have 2Ls "edit" the submitted work.

Add to that the insanity of some of the bluebook rules and many people leave law school with the expectation that bad writing is somehow "good." Some of these people become judges.

Clear writers like Scalia, Posner, and Kozinski are viewed as the excepions and not the rule. Organizations like the National Judicial College certainly help, but we still end up with a lot of obtuse crap masquerading as legal opinion.
4.25.2008 11:54am
020033 (mail) (www):
I don't recoil in horror at the use of obscure words as some do, but I do think that their use here was particularly inelegant.
4.25.2008 12:06pm
DJR:
I particularly like the contrast between the use of big words on the one hand and the crude use of a slash in "hospital/physician relationship" on the other.

I'd trade "quintessence and elixir" for "the relationship between the hospital and the physician" any day.
4.25.2008 12:11pm
AndrewK (mail):
Cease and desist!!
4.25.2008 12:22pm
TerrencePhilip:
EV, you may not recall that just over a year ago you featured an opinion from this same judge (with the comment "ugh"). The judge is apparently fond of "cognoscenti" as it was featured in his previous highlighted opinion.

The man is a menace!
4.25.2008 1:07pm
plutosdad (mail):
As someone who used to be a technical writer, and wrote for a living, I am often astounded at the poor writing in laws. For instance a few years ago I sold my car and had to jump through a bunch of hoops, I had to have my father (an attorney) help figure out what needed to be done. Of course it was only about 3 easy steps, but it was all over with the worst writing I've ever seen.

I spent a lot of time on projects making incredibly technical material understandable to the layman, why can't lawyers and politicians do the same? You'd think less confusions would mean less lawsuits if laws and rulings were written better.

(I don't spend much time on comments though :) )
4.25.2008 1:20pm
PersonFromPorlock:
"Cognoscenti?" Damn, that takes me back. Anyone else remember Henry N. Manney III?
4.25.2008 1:23pm
PersonFromPorlock:

You'd think less confusions would mean less lawsuits if laws and rulings were written better.

Got it in one. ;^)
4.25.2008 1:25pm
Gino:
Aren't the Legal Realists known for this kind of writing? Or am I thinking of something else? I know that there's some theory or philosophy out there that holds that the meaning of words is totally subjective. Someone help me out here.
4.25.2008 2:06pm
Jiminy (mail):
As stated before:

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm
4.25.2008 2:10pm
Jiminy (mail):
And my favorite quote from Orwell's essay:

"A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

And he will probably ask himself two more: 1. Could I put it more shortly? 2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble.

You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you -- even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent -- and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear."
4.25.2008 2:21pm
Virginian:

As someone who used to be a technical writer, and wrote for a living....

I spent a lot of time on projects making incredibly technical material understandable to the layman, why can't lawyers and politicians do the same?


I'm sorry, but most technical manuals I have read are hardly wonderful examples of clarity.

In fairness, I suspect that most of the really bad ones I have read are machine translations.
4.25.2008 5:27pm
plutosdad (mail):
oh yeah there are a lot of crappy manuals out there.
But I always got asked back and had plenty of clients.. back when I tried. But I am a programmer now. Compilers tell you right away when they don't understand.

I know I saw "confusions" right after I hit submit! ha!
4.25.2008 6:22pm
Vernunft (mail) (www):
Me fail English? That's unpossible!
4.25.2008 8:24pm
Bleepless (mail):
It reminds me of that other great South Carolinian wordsmith, J. Gordon Coogler.
4.25.2008 10:47pm
fishbane (mail):
Compilers tell you right away when they don't understand.

True, but they can be profoundly bad at telling you *what* they don't understand. Of course, that's usually the programmer's fault, but unfortunately, the coders least likely to distill meaning from build errors are the most likely to make them.

Now that we're incredibly off-topic...

If there a Bulwer-Lytton style competition for legal writing?
4.25.2008 10:57pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Gino: What exactly do you mean by "I know that there's some theory or philosophy out there that holds that the meaning of words is totally subjective"?
4.25.2008 11:05pm
Lev:

The quintessence and elixir of the peer review process is confidentiality.


Yes they is.
4.26.2008 1:02am