Articles Tagged with Legislative drafting

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You may or may not use a serial comma wherever (or nowhere) else you want, but woe to the person who leaves the serial comma out of legal documents, including contracts, legal opinions, statutes, regulations, and any other legal agreement or law that will be interpreted literally (and I mean literally, literally) by parties to the agreement or by a judge – or even, mercy, by a legislator or government lawyer.

Honestly now: Do you really want to pay lawyer(s!) bills and court costs when lawyers, judges, and clients end up doing battle over the meaning of a sentence when the presence of a comma would have allowed everyone to go home to supper and a peaceful night’s sleep?

Lawyers, legislators, drafters of laws, and judges have enough trouble writing clearly without adding to their own and their readers’ woes. Use the serial comma, please. It will save all of us time and money.

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Lack of Oxford Comma Costs Maine Company Millions in Overtime Dispute,” by Daniel Victor, March 16, 2017, New York Times.

A class-action lawsuit about overtime pay for truck drivers hinged entirely on a debate that has bitterly divided friends, families and foes: The dreaded — or totally necessary — Oxford comma, perhaps the most polarizing of punctuation marks.

What ensued in The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and in a 29-page court decision handed down on Monday, was an exercise in high-stakes grammar pedantry that could cost a dairy company in Portland, Me., an estimated $10 million….” [Link to full NYT article.]

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“The Unacknowledged Legislators of the World,” April 28, 2015 by Jennifer Davis (Law Library of Congress)

“…. The centrality of interpretation to law and poetry is also explored by Wallace Stevens, most markedly in his poem “Metaphors of a Magnifico“:

Twenty men crossing a bridge,

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I could use this case to teach an entire course on Oregon legal research to lawyers, law students, legislators, and self-represented litigants:

City of Damascus v. Henry R. Brown, Jr. (A156920)

ARMSTRONG, P. J.

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Thinking beyond the Uniform Law Commission, the American Law Institute, and the American Bar Association:  Who Makes Model Laws?

You’ve heard of the Uniform Commercial Code and the Model Penal Code, but how much do you know about model laws? You could learn more by reading this short article: Mary Whisner, There Oughta Be a Law—a Model Law, 106 Law Libr. J. 125 (2014)….”  [Link to blog post.]