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Use Hyperlinks, Don't 'Bitch-Slap' -- and Other Tips from a 'Cranky' Federal Judge

The legal blogosphere is taking note of an amusing new guide to legal writing, courtesy of Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Kopf and his entertaining blog, Hercules and the Umpire. (Hat tip: Lawyerist)

Kopf, who joined the short list of judge-bloggers earlier this year, made waves back in 2008 with an irreverent Top 10 style critique of the U.S. Supreme Court's sentencing decisions, published in the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. Kopf took on the high court again this April in a blog post titled "The frequent irrelevancy of the Supreme Court." Now he's back to the Top 10 format with some words of wisdom for attorneys submitting briefs to him and to "other all-knowing beings who ascend the federal trial bench, both literally and figuratively."

Here's a sampling of Kopf's "Top ten legal writing hints when the audience is a cranky federal trial judge" (some of which he illustrates with links to relevant Urban Dictionary definitions and YouTube videos):

  • Unless you are retrograde … or the judge won't allow it, hyperlink to cases and citations to the record. Remember, 9 out of 10 times a law clerk -- not the trial judge -- is the only one closely reading your stuff. (Oh, don't pretend to be shocked!) …
  • Please don't "bitch-slap" your opponent. It only makes me want to do the same to you, but in super slow motion.

And, at a time in which all eyes are on the Supreme Court, Kopf doesn't spare the justices. He calls last year's feud between Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner and Justice Antonin Scalia (and Scalia's co-author Bryan Garner) "a juvenile cat fight over a book about rules." And, when it comes to writing, Kopf suggests one justice to emulate.

  • Justice Scalia writes smack. You can't. Justice Kennedy waxes grand eloquent. You can't. Justice Breyer writes simply. You should.

The rest of Kopf's tips are here

Posted by Laurel Newby on June 25, 2013 at 03:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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