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In Search of ... a Judicial Opinion Containing an Emoticon

WinkiconVia the Legal Writing Prof Blog I see that the use of smiley faces and other emoticons in professional writing is on the rise. Indeed, The New York Times reports that "the emoticon has rather suddenly migrated from the e-mails and texts of teenagers (and perhaps the more frothy adults) to the correspondence of business people who pride themselves on their gravitas."

Emoticons are supposed to provide additional guidance to the reader as to the writer's state of mind. As an epidemiology professor explained to the Times, she and her colleagues have recently embraced the smiley face emoticon “sparingly and strategically” because a "well-planted smiley face can take the edge off and avoid misunderstanding.”

However, as the Times notes, emoticons are not always well-received. The same epidemiology professor recalled sending an acquaintance a 'big hug' emoticon, which for some reason appeared on the recipient's iPhone as a series of characters that he thought resembled "splayed lady parts": ({})

Other people such as British journalist Maria McErlane claim to be "deeply offended" by emoticons. "If anybody on Facebook sends me a message with a little smiley-frowny face or a little sunshine with glasses on them, I will de-friend them. I also de-friend for OMG and LOL. They get no second chance," McErlane warns.

How far have emoticons spread into the legal field? Do you ever send your clients emails with smiley faces (I'm guessing some of you do)?

Even more interesting to me: Has the world seen its first judicial opinion that contains an emoticon yet? I challenge LBW readers to find and send me a judicial opinion that includes an emoticon.* Winner gets some kind of LBW or swag, to be determined later.

* Emoticon must be written by the judge, not just a quote in the opinion taken from some teenager's cellphone or something like that.

Posted by Bruce Carton on October 27, 2011 at 04:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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