Opening Statements

SCOTUS in 17 Syllables: Houston Lawyer’s High Court Haiku

Posted May 1, 2011 3:30 AM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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Long law articles
Wore lawyer Keith Jaasma out
So he tried haiku

Supreme Court Haiku, to be precise.

Jaasma, an IP lawyer at Houston’s Patterson & Sheridan, started the website at supremecourthaiku.com in February 2010 with a plan to write haiku for every U.S. Supreme Court opinion. Jaasma says he didn’t even tell his wife about the website because “I thought it was potentially such a dumb idea.”

A self-taught poet who co-founded the UCLA Entertainment Law Review while a student there in the early 1990s, Jaasma gets his poetic inspiration from the abstract section of Supreme Court opinions.

For instance, a recent post about Snyder v. Phelps reads:

Church so full of hate
Pickets soldier’s funeral
Protected discourse

“One of the unintended positive side effects of this blog has been me reading all the cases and keeping on top of things,” Jaasma says. “And yes, there are some fairly mundane cases.”

The site currently gets about 20 hits daily, he says. And marketing, it seems, is an intended outcome. Or, as he writes:

Some ask: Why haiku?
Why seventeen syllables?
No time for real blog

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