Using Parentheticals in Legal Writing
A bad solution. Addressing irrelevance through explanatory parentheses fails my three general tips for writing. First of all, it certainly doesn`t get straight to the point. If it is not clear why authority is relevant, then an important point has not been addressed. Second, to remedy this omission, an explanatory parenthesis is neither conversational nor easy to read. No normal person speaks in explanatory parentheses. Jack: “Hey, Jill, what`s going on with Marbury v. Madison?” Jill: “Marbury v. Madison, 5 USA (1 Cranch) 137, 162 (1803) (holding that section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional, thus establishing judicial review of constitutional questions by stating that “the essence of civil liberty is certainly that every individual avails himself of the protection of the law whenever he suffers a violation”). This is just a slight exaggeration of common parentheses that tend to weld together irrelevant details, untalkative prose, and blocks of quotes in a completely grotesque presentation format after a quote. The ubiquitous use of blue-book-style “explanatory parentheses” often fails all three tips, and you should rely on them. Much of this trust may be a forgotten habit or a conscious but erroneous notion that explanatory parentheses are necessary. It can also be a shortcut disguised as helpfulness. According to the Bluebook`s “rule,” explanatory parentheses aren`t even sentences, and when it comes to readability, just test yourself when you come across them.
If you`re like me, you skip them. Just like quotation marks and overwritten titles. It`s very difficult to be an effective writer when you`re doing things that blow important points to the reader. But even worse, explanatory parentheses lead writers to dodge the very important step of formulating good thematic sentences and explaining the relevance of key authority in user-friendly prose. “But, Eric” (I can hear it now) “I created these brackets to show you what I quoted; I tried to be helpful. Maybe. Often, however, the explanatory parenthesis is the lazy solution. Distilling principles, creating thematic sentences – these are difficult analytical tasks. Inserting text from a case without somehow saying what it means is not.
There are many good things about Westlaw, but a great danger is that it reduces legal research to cutting and pasting opinion pieces. And these excerpts tend to end up in explanatory parentheses. Instead, write a good sentence; The one who identifies what is important. So write good sentences that clearly explain the relevance of your authority and quote the outline of the cases. Then make without explanatory brackets that are not necessary, nor good, nor clear, nor the sentences are still generally read and certainly no way to show a broad line. For more information on explanatory parentheses, see Rule 1.5. Somehow, it has become common from these “rules” to see multiple cases lined up with long brackets behind them or to record quotes with quotes or descriptions of multiple lines. And the artisans of these monstrosities may feel that they have followed the “rules” and are useful. If necessary, use parentheses to explain the relevance of a particular authority to the sentence given in the text. Information in parentheses is recommended if the relevance of a cited authority would otherwise not be clear to the reader. Explanatory parentheses should take the form of a sentence beginning with a present participle, a quoted sentence or a short statement appropriate to the context. To save space, you can omit superfluous words like “the” unless it causes confusion.
Don`t start with a capital letter or end with a period unless the parenthesis consists of a quote that reads like a complete sentence: A better solution. The most effective way to communicate important points is (1) to get straight to the point in conversational prose (3) in a user-friendly way. So if you have a number of cases from now and here that support what you`re saying — and you truly believe that the decisions of four different generations of district judges from 12 states you`ve never visited are worth mentioning — I would recommend writing a paragraph with a subject sentence explaining that there are many years and jurisdictions. that support what you say. And then I would cite all of these cases, without parentheses, and I would probably do it in a footnote so that it wouldn`t be intrusive. A good paragraph should not need explanatory parentheses. If you find yourself quoting an authority and “the relevance of a cited authority would otherwise not be clear to the reader,” then you have written a rather horrible sentence or paragraph. I should not need parentheses to understand why you are citing a particular case; A normal English sentence should tell me. By the Blue Book standard, while an explanatory parenthesis is a good idea, a good paragraph should never need one. If I could give just three pieces of advice on legal writing, they would probably be the following: (1) get straight to the point in every document, section, paragraph, and sentence; (2) Write in a conversational style by using words and phrases you speak in intelligent oral communication and rejecting words and phrases you don`t use when talking about your writing; and (3) choose presentation methods that are easy to read and, when in doubt, guided by usability, not patterns or superstitions.
All I want to know is why you mentioned all these things and what is important. I do not want to look for that answer in parentheses. « Judges are not like pigs looking for truffles buried in briefs. » United States v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d 955, 956 (7th Cir. 1991). Some would put that wonderful line in brackets after the quote. This is exactly the trend I am trying to change here.
Regardless of the type of authority you quote, it is often useful to add additional information to explain the relevance of the cited authority. Add this information in parentheses at the end of your quote, but before each quote to the story below. The Blue Book. To write this advice, I first had to find the Bluebook in my office. Section B11 deals with “explanatory square brackets”. The problem she identifies is real; His recipe is borderline madness:.