Thursday, August 28, 2014

Analysis of amended opinions

If you scan the Court of Appeal's opinion pages, you'll sometimes see a case number followed by an M (or an A). These are modifications (or amendments) to opinions, typically denying rehearing and/or perhaps tweaking a line or two in a decision.
Today's DJ has Emily Green's Get me rewrite! State appellate justices' amended opinions can be revealing, which explores modified opinions. "Justices sometimes falter when drafting opinions, penning ill-conceived footnotes, hyperbolic diatribes and incorrect facts. Sometimes, though, they take another shot at it, rewriting themselves and editing blunders out of the permanent record."
One example in the article concerns a 2008 opinion where 9th Circuit Judge Trott deleted a footnote from an opinion. And speaking of Judge Trott, do NOT miss his concurring opinion in Alexander v. FedEx here, which makes a number of pithy points, including a warning about selective quotations:

Once again, we learn the regrettable lesson that the basic information we require to resolve a controversy is not always found in the parties’ briefs, but in the ungilded record itself.  A good rule in this business is to verify before you trust. Lawyers would be well advised not to elide the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
"But calling employees contractors does not make it so, the appellate panel ruled.
'Calling a dog's tail a leg does not make it a leg,' Trott wrote, quoting Abraham Lincoln."