Monday, July 26, 2010

Judicial Creativity

A post at the Official Google Blog, highlighting the case law available through Google Scholar, highlights a trial court opinion written to the meter of a song by one of the litigants, LeAnn Rimes, and apparently intended as a tribute. I was reminded of a Michigan appellate case, Fisher v Lowe, also written as a poem with the substance of the opinion similarly placed in the footnotes.

I have mixed feelings about this type of opinion. Yes, they can give some amount of amusement to legal scholars and law students, even if the facts and legal principles they present are more difficult to extract. But I wonder how the litigants perceive them. If a case is important enough to litigate, particularly to the appellate level, does it send the wrong message if the judges get creative with their form, or attempt to be witty with what, to you, is the very important culmination of your litigation? That is, would a litigant on the losing side of a case like Fisher v Lowe be thinking, "That was clever," or, "They didn't take my case seriously."

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