Judiciary

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


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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