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Moving On From 'Let it Be' to 'Paperback Writer'

At Legal Blog Watch, we turn now from "Let it Be" to "Paperback Writer."  The Globe and Mail had an interesting article recently ('The judge who writes like a paperback novelist') (via How Appealing) about Ontario Court of Appeal Judge David Watt, who has become a bit of a sensation in criminal law circles as the result of a stark transformation in the way he writes his decisions.

Until recently, the G&M reports, Watt wrote in a traditional, legalistic manner.

But not any more!

As the excerpts below show, Watt has gone a different, more breathless direction with his recent decisions. In a recent opinion overturning a domestic murder conviction, Watt wrote:

Early one morning in June, 2006, Melvin Flores closed the book on his relationship with Cindy MacDonald. With a butcher knife embedded in Cindy’s back. Fifty-three blunt force injuries.

In another murder case, Watt penned the following:

Handguns and drug deals are frequent companions, but not good friends. Rip-offs happen. Shootings do too. Caveat emptor. Caveat venditor. People get hurt. People get killed. Sometimes, the buyer. Other times, the seller. That happened here.

Watt's work has brought mixed reviews. David Tanovich, a law professor at the University of Windsor, told the G&M that Watt was “out of control” and that he "would not be surprised if there is not a judicial council complaint if he continues.”

Another law professor named Rakhi Ruparelia said she was stunned by Judge Watt's "disrespect" in the Flores decision, and believed he was "trying to titillate and entertain with his writing rather than offer a careful and appropriate consideration of the facts.” On the other hand, a Manitoba judge said the Flores decision was a "must-read" and "another excellent piece of work by one of Canada’s finest criminal law jurists."

For several more examples of Judge Watt's distinctive brand of writing, read the full Globe & Mail article here.

Posted by Bruce Carton on March 24, 2011 at 05:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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