Thursday, July 18, 2013

Endangered insult embedded in famous footnote

For years now, highly amusing articles have been circulating on the internet about a movement to save the culturally essential -- yet apparently endangered -- word 'schmuck.' (E.g., Mel Brooks Starts Nonprofit Foundation to Save Word 'Schmuck') Naturally, something this important must have a California appellate angle: Enter footnote 2 in People v. Arno (1979) 90 Cal.App.3d 505, in which the authoring justice responds to a dissenting justice as follows:
We feel compelled by the nature of the attack in the dissenting opinion to spell out a response:
1. Some answer is required to the dissent's charge.
2. Certainly we do not endorse "victimless crime."
3. How that question is involved escapes us.
4. Moreover, the constitutional issue is significant.
5. Ultimately it must be addressed in light of precedent.
6. Certainly the course of precedent is clear.
7. Knowing that, our result is compelled.

Photo of R. Thompson
"Dear dissenting colleague, please read fn.2 vertically!"

Photo of L. Hanson
"I have heretofore eschewed responding to footnote 2 of the majority opinion in kind since it would be beneath the dignity of this office. Although I still will not respond in kind, with the filing of a modification to footnote 2 on March 20, 1979, some comment is compelled. I decry the lack of propriety, collegiality and judicial temperament displayed in footnote 2. I abhor the loss of public respect for the legal profession and the judiciary footnote 2 has engendered by reason of the report in the Los Angeles Times on March 13, 1979 (circulation 1,034,329). One certainly cannot fault the Los Angeles Times for using an English dictionary (Webster's) since California published opinions for over 125 years have been written in English and our jurisdiction obviously does not extend seven thousand miles to the Rhine in Germany."