Even Tough Cases Can Be Won with Good Writing

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A few months ago, I wrote appeal for a lawyer representing an undocumented alien in a personal injury case.  They were kicked out of court on Rule 56 & Rule 41 after it came to light that (unbeknown even to his own lawyer) the plaintiff had been using an alias.  The entire case had been prosecuted under this alias to that point.  The attorney did what he could to correct the record, but after a bit of procedural gymnastics by the court, the case was dismissed.  Just found out that based on the appellate brief I wrote and the attorney’s oral argument, the appellate court revered the dismissal and remanded the case.  We’re back in business!

Moral of the story: I don’t condone this plaintiff’s use of an alias or his failure to disclose that fact to his own attorney.  However, I think our strategy of being honest and straightforward about these circumstances weighed heavily in our ultimate victory at the appellate level.  I would advise attorneys not to minimize, ignore, or attempt to justify what may be perceived as bad acts by their clients.  Instead, face them head on and deal with them in earnest through whatever legitimate legal means are available, and let the chips fall where they may.


The Ever-Troublesome Semicolon …


Some people think the semicolon is a redundant punctuation mark, since it technically functions in nearly the same manner as a period (with the exception of its use to separate items in a complex series).  I personally like semicolons, and I do use them — but only in the very narrow circumstances where it’s appropriate.  But if the British Royal Family can’t figure out how to properly use a semicolon, then maybe it’s safer to just stick with periods.  This photo was taken at historic Kensington Palace in London a few days ago:

Sign Posted at Kensington Palace in London

Royal Family Botches Use of Semicolon

Why is this semicolon misused?  Semicolons separate closely-related independent clauses (complete sentences) only.  “[E]vents that have shaped the society we live in today” is not a complete sentence.  Most grammarians would replace this semicolon with a comma; but I personally would replace it with an em dash (long hyphen).  (Sorry — had to throw in a shamelessly conspicuous semicolon somewhere in this post.)