The Ultimate Dissent

The majority’s reasoning is faulty. It proves too much. It sets the law upon a slippery slope. It is too clever by half. It is unprecedented. It cannot withstand scrutiny. It will lead to absurd results. It applies a one-way ratchet. It proves the opposite. It constructs, then tears down a straw man. It eviscerates settled caselaw. It misreads the pertinent text. It is dangerous. It will open the floodgates. It equivocates. It is judicial activism. It assumes its conclusions. It generates inefficiencies. It is unscholarly. It disregards public policy. It is circular. It usurps the jury’s function. It lacks any basis in precedent, legislative history, or the language of the pertinent regulation, statute, treaty, and/or Constitution, and in fact, runs directly contrary to all of these sources. It misapprehends the parties’ respective burdens. It tries to have things both ways. It is its own best refutation. It misses the point. It sows mischief. It is hopelessly ambiguous. It opens a Pandora’s box. It obfuscates rather than clarifies. It does not—indeed cannot—adequately answer the question. It is dicta. It unnecessarily decides a Constitutional question. It misreads the record. It elevates form over substance. It will have perverse effects. It disregards the evidence. It is inapposite. It misconstrues the issue. It is unsettling. It unleashes a parade of horribles. It denigrates a venerable institution. It pounds the table. It is internally inconsistent. It perpetuates iniquity. It is regrettable. It will be resigned to the ash heap of history. It is a Morton’s Fork. It is grossly unfair. It misses the mark. It collapses under its own weight. It is unworkable. It dashes settled expectations. It draws illusory distinctions. It is a non sequitur. It begs the question. It relies on overruled authority. It raises issues that the parties do not. It legislates from the bench. It cannot be taken literally. It seizes upon hard facts to make bad law. It is wrong.

Therefore, I concur only in part.

Feedback from a Snarky Arbitration Board (1854)

I enjoy primary-source research for many reasons. One being, you occasionally stumble upon documents that remind you that people have always had a sense of humor, even way back when.

Take, for example, the arbitrators’ decision that I recently came across in the case file for a matter brought in Los Angeles (state) District Court in 1853. I don’t know what the case concerned–unfortunately, the old Los Angeles case-file records tend to be incomplete–but apparently the three members of the arbitration panel that was appointed in the matter soon regretted their willingness to serve. Their decision, prepared in January 1854, came with a cover letter that provided as follows (As were most documents of the era, the decision was hand-written, in flowing script; I have placed brackets around the text that I had to guess at):

The Board of Arbitration in the case where [] Getman is Pltff + Foster + Wadhams, Childs + Hicks + O.D. Gass are defendants after a long + tedious examination of witnesses + books–patient hearing of counsel–and a tedious perusal of musty legal authorities among which may be enumerated Kent’s Commentaries; various digests; [?] on Evidence; Coke on Littleton, not excepting stought-on-bitters, have cordially agreed to disagree upon all and singular of the various points at issue.

Much precious time has been squandered by the Board, who have labored far past the meal hours + in at least one instance kept up a nightly vigil over the constantly increasing stack of papers pertaining to the case – reams of paper have been covered with matter that we may hope at some future time benefit the patient peruser. Ink + pens have quickly undergone a transformation which we hope was not for the worse, and physical energies worn to an ampersand. In looking back on their labors the Board see nothing to bring the blush of shame, [?] upon their cheeks, either for themselves or the various distinguished and gentlemanly personages who have done them the proud honor of their presence. There might have been more expected perhaps of the two legal gentlemen, who consumed a rather large portion of the sessions, in attempting to produce an impression of their extensive acquirements, but the Board will have no regrets, and in conclusion do hereby tender the passing authority which has been vested in them and will quietly recede to the obscurity from which the people have called them, contented to occupy the sphere which as heretofore brung them sufficiency of enjoyment – [mere?] ambition is satisfied.

With kindest regards to the parties, witnesses + counsel who have looked up to us as the personification of wisdom + justice we take pleasure in cordially going through the form (imaginary) of unit[ing] the digits in a gentle oscillating motion eminently expressive of our [mellowed?] feelings in winding up the late [connection?] + without further remarks beg leave to return the enclosed decision marked AB. 


The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Indexed to Franklin, Rabin & Green’s Tort Law and Alternatives

A is for Adams who a wire imperiled

B is for Byrne crushed flat by a barrel

C is for Carter who slipped on some ice

D is for Dillon who might have died twice

E is for Escola nicked by some pop

F is for Fletcher whose mine needed a mop

G is for Goodman who caught a train the wrong way

H is for Hood who said his saw didn’t say

I is for Intel whose computers were smeared

J is for Johnson whose baby flat disappeared

K is for Katko shot while he stole

L is for Levandoski who fell into a hole

M is for Murphy maimed on “The Flopper”

N is for Negri who slipped as a shopper

O is for O’Brien halting pool sales

P is for Palsgraf squashed by some scales

Q is for Quill who received quite a scare

R is for Rowland owed reasonable care

S is for Summers who can’t ID his shooter

T is for Tedla struck by a commuter

U is for Ultramares from whom a company did steal

V is for Vosburg whose leg didn’t heal

W is for Wagon Mound done in by a spark

X is for the unreasonable man who takes stairs in the dark

Y is for Ybarra who sued the whole set

Z is for Zeran defamed over the Net