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Rappers and Rhymes Appear More Often in Opinions as Judges Seek to Break Up the Monotony

Posted Jun 29, 2011 7:16 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The law is constantly evolving, and so are judicial opinions.

Judges are increasingly referencing pop culture and adding humor to their opinions, the Wall Street Journal reports. “The bench is a veritable yuk-fest,” the story says.

Judges have referenced rappers 50 Cent and Ludacris, cited Pulp Fiction and a beer slogan, and added rhymes and puns to their opinions.

The article offers these example:

• "My analysis will be swifter than Richard Petty's race-clinching pit stop at the 1981 Daytona 500.”—Chief Delaware Chancery Judge William Chandler III, now retired.

• "North Philly, May 4, 2001. Officer Sean Devlin, Narcotics Strike Force, was working the morning shift. Undercover surveillance. The neighborhood? Tough as a three-dollar steak."—Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

• " 'We're Number One' was a chant denoting a winning sports team; now it refers to America's fatness.”—U.S. District Judge Fred Biery of San Antonio.

• "With arguments hard to resist, the movant correctly insists, his joinder was tardy, and so the third party, complaint is hereby dismissed.”—U.S. District Court Judge Berle Schiller, writing in a case involving the Limerick Golf Club.

Not everyone is impressed.

One of the critics is writing expert Bryan Garner, a professor at SMU Dedman School of Law. "There are all these Night Before Christmas-type attempts at poetry, and I've never seen a judge who can pull it off," he tells the Wall Street Journal. "It's like when I see people in their 50s talk like teenagers. It's embarrassing."

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