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August 09, 2005


James Kraft

S. Cotus:

As to your comment "judges do their best not to be effected by the style and tenor of briefs," repeat after me:

The District Court was AFFECTED by the tenor of the briefs, the EFFECT of the rough language in the brief was only to make one judge on the panel angry, and using correct English grammar is essential to EFFECTIVE appellate advocacy.

Try this: http://www.lessontutor.com/eeseffect.html --
then go to http://webster.commnet.edu/cgi-shl/quiz.pl/affect_except_quiz.htm

Please don't take this too hard. I appreciated your post and the accompanying links.


Thanks for the tip and noted. However, I should note that as important as grammar is, if one has a choice between perfecting the grammar and perfecting a legal argument, it is best to go with the legal argument. Indeed, while judges as clerks might mock you (and believe me, I did when I was a clerk) no court wants to be in the position looking like they dismissed a valid legal argument because someone confused two commonly-confused words.

One of the reason that many of us are anonymous is because we write this in our (very) spare time (often on the subway – which is where I am at the moment) and don't take the time to proofread we do with revenue-generating work. It seems to be commonplace for lawyers to hold grammatical errors against each other (usually to detract from the substantive arguments) and I really don't want to have to deal with any of that crap in the context of "fun" legal work.

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