God Bless Texas


Mightier

UT Law Professor Schiess has an excellent discussion going on over at his Legal-Writing Blog regarding the importance of proper citation to persuasive legal writing.

By way of fair disclosure, I am an avowed adherent to the “tyranny of the inconsequential,” as insisting upon correct citation has been labeled by some less fond of the practice.

From my experience writing for and editing law journals and clerking for judges, one must of course first put forth a cogent argument. But if you then decide to let the citations take care of themselves, you detract from the credibility you have established by your reasoning. You may still win if you have the better argument or more favorable facts, but I–for one–prefer not to engender snickering in my legal reader, no matter what the outcome of the underlying case.

My background is anectdotal and the sample size insufficient from which to draw statistically significant conclusions, but in my experience, lawyers (usually older and more of the trial variety) who deride other lawyers (usually younger and more of the post-trial variety) for their insistence upon employing correct citation format do so because they wouldn’t have the faintest clue how to cite something properly if you simultaneously smacked them upside the head with the Bluebook, the Greenbook (flawed though the 11th ed. may be), and the MUS.

Moreover, those lawyers I’ve encountered who would never bother to check a citation tend to have evidenced similar diligence in their reasoning as well. Back once upon a time, when it was my job to read briefs submitted by others, it was a very rare occurrence indeed when a brief that jumped out at me as being offensively lax in its citation was inversely impressive for its thoughtful analysis. The converse was also true: rarely were briefs that shone with impeccable citation burdened by slovenly reasoning.

Accordingly, I don’t view correct citation as a nice cherry to put on top of an otherwise impressive argument, or a useful complement to cogent analysis, but instead as the most basic demonstration of one’s elemental understanding of persuasive writing. This is particularly true here in Texas, where an improper notation of the subsequent history of an intermediate appellate case can directly impact the precedential weight that must be accorded the cited case.

Once you’ve lost credibility through incorrect citation, it’s hard to get it back through unassailable logic.

Thx to the Legal-Writing Blog

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Don\'t Mess With Texas

Don't Mess With Texas

Unhappy with the SCOTUS ruling in Medellin v. Texas, No. 06-984, slip op. (2008 ) that formally recognized our Great State’s award-winning anti-littering slogan of “Don’t Mess With Texas” as official jurisprudential canon, the International Court of Justice attempted to once again force Texas to halt the executions of several Mexican nationals who made the eternally unwise choice of murdering Texans.

The curt reply from Texas to the World Court was, in essence, the same as it was to the Mexican army some one hundred and forty-three years earlier: “Come and Take It!”

Governor Perry‘s Director of Communications, Robert Black, explained:

The world court has no standing in Texas and Texas is not bound by a ruling or edict from a foreign court …. It is easy to get caught up in discussions of international law and justice and treaties. It’s very important to remember that these individuals are on death row for killing our citizens.

Black’s retort reminded me of Gov. Perry’s brilliant press-release-slapping of the EU when it tried to force Texas to halt its use of capital punishment almost a year ago:

230 years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination. Texans long ago decided that the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens. While we respect our friends in Europe, welcome their investment in our state and appreciate their interest in our laws, Texans are doing just fine governing Texas.

God I love being a Texan.

Thx to the WSJ Law Blog and the Houston Chronicle

His Vinceness

No not that kind of retirement, although he apparently considered it after his first season in Tennessee, but Texas has decided to retire Vince’s jersey, along with several other UT luminaries from various sports: most notably in football Bobby Layne (22) and Tommy Nobis (60).

Young, Nobis, and Layne join Earl Campbell (20) and Ricky Williams (34) as the only other UT football players to have their jerseys retired.

Thx to VY, Tommy Nobis, and Bobby Layne

OK, none that measure the predicted success of the team, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

An endzone Bevo can be proud of

First, with the renovations to DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium northern endzone now complete, DKR now is officially the largest stadium in the Big 12 and the fifth largest in the country.

Now, if we can just get up to 110,000 ....

Second, Texas also tops the Big 12 in coordinator salaries, paying Greg Davis and Will Muschamp each $425,000 this season.

Thx to ESPN’s Big 12 Blog

Where the magic happens

Both SCOTX Blog and the Texas Appellate Law Blog have discussed the Court’s new digitization project which–thanks to some equipment on loan from Thomson, Reuters, West & Law–has now made available for free oral argument audio going back to 1990. West will later make written transcripts linked to the oral argument video (currently available for free via live streaming or archived back to March 2007) text-searchable and available via a subscription.

SCOTX Blog notes there may be curious errors in some of the older (i.e., pre 2004-05 term) oral argument mp3s that result from the old practice of flipping the cassette tape over upon which the audio used to be recorded. This job was always delegated (perhaps unwisely) to the briefing attorneys, who sometimes forgot to flip the tape over in a timely fashion.

Most appellate attorneys will undoubtedly make good use of the audio archives while dutifully preparing for an upcoming oral argument, but for those of you who may be as easily entertained as I am, the online availability of the audio recordings presents a unique opportunity to listen to cool old matchups like, say, the epic showdown between former Chief Phillips and former Justice Hankinson last year in Crown Cork, or former Justice Enoch‘s oral argument in a cause that revisited an opinion he wrote when he was on the bench.

Thx to Blake Hawthorne, SCOTX Blog, and the Texas Appellate Law Blog

Over ... rated

Bleacher Report has a list out of college football’s seven most overrated coaches, and I gleefullly report to you that the coach holding the Most Overrated post is none other than OU‘s Bob Stoops.

Now, in a transparent attempt to appear not completely in the tank for Texas, I will say that I don’t think Bob deserves the top spot. The coach ranked number 2 on the list deserves top honors in my estimation: Notre Dame‘s Charlie Weis. At least Stoopie won a national championship just eight years ago, while Charlie has only managed to amass the worst single-season record in Irish history.

That said, the argument that Stoops is overrated is not without merit: after winning the 2000 title, his team lost two subsequent national title games (one of the opponents in which Texas prevailed against the following year in what has been hailed as “not only the best BCS bowl game ever played, but the best college football game ever played … period“) and two other BCS games, including to legendary powerhouse Boise State of blue turf fame.

Thx to Bleacher Report

Ruh Roh

Austin has a long and tortured history with the perpetually-advertised transportation nirvana that is purported to be commuter/light rail.

Well, I have to admit enjoying a little grin reading in this morning’s Statesman that a cadre of officials from the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration in town to discuss granting waivers to operate commuter and freight trains on the same railroad with Capital Metro experienced a minor mishap.

The commuter railcar in which they were riding (at the blazing commuter speed of 5 mph) derailed briefly. Thankfully, no one was injured in the incident, save for maybe the reputation of Capital MetroRail (whose predictable motto is “All Systems Go”).

Thx to the Austinist and the Statesman

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