Tinkering for Tightening

posted by Judge_Burke @ 14:30 PM
October 17, 2016

In the last few terms of the United States Supreme Court, there were records set both for fewest opinions in modern times and most number of words ever. While lawyers are verbose, judges can have the same affliction. A recent posting by the lawprose blog had great tips for lawyers that are just as useful for judges:

Most professional writing (the type you see in major newsmagazines) is tight; most legal writing isn’t. You want a tip on tightening? After you have a fairly polished draft, look at the last line, half-line, or quarter-line of every paragraph. Play with the paragraph to try to shorten it by one line. It’s a little editorial game you can play, and it works. An example:

A few cases tend to suggest that if a plaintiff’s own inexcusable neglect was responsible for the failure to name the correct party, an amendment substituting the proper party will not be allowed, notwithstanding that adequate notice has been given to the new party. Although this factor is germane to the question of permitting an amendment, it is more closely related to the exercise by the trial court of discretion under Rule 15(a) about whether to allow the change than it is to the satisfaction of the requirements of notice pursuant to Rule 15(c).

So we try to save half a line with a little tinkering:

A few cases tend to [Some cases] suggest that if a plaintiff’s own inexcusable neglect was responsible for [caused] the failure to name the correct party, an amendment substituting the proper party will not be allowed, notwithstanding that adequate notice has been given [despite adequate notice] to the new party. Although this factor is germane to the question of permitting an amendment, it is more closely related to the exercise by the trial court of discretion [trial court’s discretion] under Rule 15(a) about whether to allow the change than it is to the satisfaction of the requirements of notice pursuant to Rule 15(c) [Rule 15(c)’s notice requirements].

The changes here: 5 words to 2; 3 words to 1; 7 words to 3; 5 words to 3; and 5 words to 3. Let’s see the result…

 

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