The Bluebook

Gwyneth Paltrow, muse of judicial humor.

Dillard, J., consciously uncoupling from the majority opinion.

– Judge Stephen Dillard of the Court of Appeals of Georgia, paying homage to Gwyneth Paltrow on his delightful Twitter feed (which you should definitely follow).

But Judge Dillard used this quip just over Twitter, not in an opinion. The best official case parenthetical of all time, after the jump.

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My second story about editing in two days? Woohoo! Nothing is more exciting.

I hope people don’t get the wrong idea about my feelings when it comes to typos and grammatical errors. They should be avoided. I’m just saying there’s no reason to get all bent out of shape over them. There are thousands of opportunities to make a small error in typing or applying the arbitrary rules of the English language, and when an error happens, it should be noted and fixed with minimal drama. Instead there are people like this. Or this.

But if you’re going to rip a bunch of people for poor editing, at least try to keep typos and grammatical screw-ups in your email to a minimum.

Unlike this law journal editor….

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Chief Judge KOZINSKI, disagreeing with everyone….

– The introductory line to Chief Judge Alex Kozinski’s recent separate opinion in Garfias-Rodriguez v. Holder (9th Cir. Oct. 19, 2012). As noted by the WSJ Law Blog, the other opinions of the highly fragmented en banc court had more traditional designations, like “concurrence” and “dissent.” Howard Bashman was amused.

(Additional news out of the Ninth Circuit, of a serious and sad nature, after the jump.)

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Ah, the Bluebook. Some people love it, but even more people despise it. If you ask my colleague Elie Mystal about the Bluebook, he’ll tell you that it’s the only book in the world he’d actually consider burning in public. Even federal judges hate the Bluebook. In fact, when we held a poll about whether use of the Bluebook should be abolished, 51% of our readers agreed that it should be banished.

All that being said, is it any wonder that a student from a law school in Virginia is raging against the law review’s upcoming Bluebook exam? Several law students have written to us about this student’s “guerilla campaign” against the school’s annual exercise in “academic hazing,” and they have even provided us with copies of this kid’s manifesto. (Yeah, he’s got one.)

Who is this revolutionary, and why does he think the school’s Bluebook exam needs to go?

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Welcome to the latest edition of Above the Law’s Grammer Pole of the Weak, a column where we turn questions of legal writing and English grammar and usage over to our readers for discussion and debate.

Last week, we found out that only 29% of our readers lie back and think of England when dealing with punctuation and quotation marks. Makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it?

This week, we turn to a hotly-debated issue among legal professionals: the use of the Bluebook. At least one federal judge hates it, joining hundreds upon thousands of law students to date.

Should we consider putting the Bluebook on the backburner in our legal writing?

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Wesley Snipes

* I thought the rule for how to cite a blog in your brief was “don’t,” but I have less use for a Bluebook than a homeless orphan (I hear kindling is hard to come by on the streets). [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* More analysis on the mean mommy lawsuit reminds me of how much better things would be if somebody — be it a parent or a bully — had slapped these kids upside their fat heads during crucial developmental years. [Healthland / TIME]

* Maybe if more lawyers knew some basic principles of digital masking, they wouldn’t be so terrified when it comes to tipping ATL about the stuff going down at their firms. Either that, or people would make even more fun of me. [An Associate's Mind]

* Culinary school graduates are also unhappy with the employment prospects available to them after investing in additional education. Let me try this maxim out and you tell me what you think: if the education has neither “computer,” nor “science,” nor “military” in the title, you are being charged way too much. [Eater]

* Don’t you love how lawyers can turn any massive failure into a business opportunity? Lawyers are like the bacteria in charge of decomposition in the crisis ecosystem. [Law and More]

* In the game of tax conviction appeals, Wesley Snipes came up a little bit short. Kind of like the time he slid into second base too early and stopped before the bag. (New rule: all Wesley Snipes tax references must be accompanied by a Wesley Snipes movie reference.) [TaxProf Blog]

Sometimes readers will email us with ideas for posts that range from the insane to the mundane. We’ve learned that what may seem mundane to the average citizen may be totally titillating for an attorney.

Members of this profession really, really like rules, especially rules about proper English grammar and usage. Be it confusion over a homophone, misuse of a hyphen, or incorrect placement of a semicolon, every grammar Nazi has a special place reserved in his heart for the idiot who screws these things up.

And that is why the topic of today’s reader poll is about how many spaces one should use between sentences….

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The only book in the world I'd actually consider burning in public.

* Harvard Law School exams used to be easier. Think about that the next time you hear about grade inflation. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Speaking of things getting harder, this seems like proof that the Bluebook exists to propagate sales of the Bluebook. [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* And yet the Bluebook hasn’t been updated to include a special citation form for Wikipedia. Weird. [An Associate's Mind]

* Howrey going to WARN them that there are more of these lawsuits coming? [Am Law Daily]

* A professor at John Marshall Law School (Atlanta), Lucille Jewel, has written a law review article about the ability of scam blogs to impact legal education. I’m just going to sit very still until Leonardo DiCaprio confirms that I’m already dreaming. [Legal Skills Prof Blog]

* “People’s preferences can sometimes override their principles.” No, that’s not the subtitle of my upcoming book, “Bush v. Intellectual Consistency: The Antonin Scalia Story.” [Blackbook Legal]

* Yuck Fale. [CBS New York]

[N]eedless to say, I have not read the nineteenth edition. I have dipped into it, much as one might dip one’s toes in a pail of freezing water. I am put in mind of Mr. Kurtz’s dying words in Heart of Darkness — ‘The horror! The horror!’ — and am tempted to end there.

— Judge Richard Posner, in a scathing Yale Law Journal review of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (19th ed.).

(For additional discussion and funny excerpts, see Paul Horwitz, Ilya Somin, and Eugene Volokh.)