One of the most surprising parts of law school is finding those tiny notes of beauty and levity in the sea of legal dross we wade through each evening. Reading cases is by and large very dull (especially when it comes to cases whose only purpose is to exemplify some arcane subrule of Civil Procedure), but once in a while one gets the sense that a judge remembers the human aspect of the cases they adjudicate, and attempt to reflect said narrative in their opinion.
That instinct gives rise to my new favorite case opener ever, a line that would not be out of place as the first line of a novel:
“Plaintiff and her brother, a deaf mute, were walking along a divided highway shortly after dark, pushing baby carriages filled with junk that they had collected for sale as part of their regular business”
I mean, come on! It’s like it’s out of a bad modernist reinterpretation of a Victorian novel! Should I ever become a judge, I will deign to handle ONLY those cases in which the circumstances are equally ludicrous as those above, and every single one of my legal memos from this point forward is going to be written in a similar style. I may get bitched out by my senior attorney or held in contempt by my judge, but damn it, I’m going to pull legal writing, kicking and screaming, into the realm of the comprehensible and literary and fun.