2 new working papers on judicial opinions

“Judges and Their Editors”

Albany Government Law Review, Forthcoming
University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-18

DOUGLAS E. ABRAMS, University of Missouri School of Law

This essay discusses the roles of personal law clerks, central staff clerks, and Reporters of Decisions in editing judges’ opinions at the drafting stage. “The overarching lesson [is] that by submerging pride of authorship during an opinion’s gestation and by weighing editorial input with an open mind, judges secure in their craft advance the interests of justice.” The essay also discusses the constraints imposed by the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct on the circle of persons a judge may consult without giving the parties advance notice. The essay is adapted from Prof. Abrams’ address to the international meeting of the Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions in Halifax, Nova Scotia on August 7, 2009.

 

“Sports in the Courts: The Role of Sports References in Judicial Opinions”

DOUGLAS E. ABRAMS, University of Missouri School of Law
Villanova Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, Forthcoming
University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-19

In cases with no claims or defenses concerning sports, the Supreme Court and lower federal and state courts frequently publish opinions that draw analogies to the rules or terminology of sports familiar to broad segments of the American people. Sports analogies can help the court explain factual or legal points because today’s generation, including the lawyers and litigants who comprise the prime audience for written opinions, grew into adulthood amid an unprecedented saturation of professional and amateur sports in the broadcast and print media, and more recently on the Internet.

This article surveys the broad array of sports whose references now lace written judicial opinions, and then discusses the use and misuse of these references. Sports references can help courts explain and resolve complexity, but may also implicate Rule 1.3 of the Model Code of Judicial Conduct by detracting unacceptably from the prestige indispensable to the judicial role. A sports reference remains incompatible with judging when a reasonable reader would conclude that the court invoked it primarily for the judge’s personal pleasure and not to facilitate the communication of ideas.

 

Source:  LSN: University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research
 Paper Series Vol. 4 No. 4,  08/20/2009

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