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Quote of the Day - Progress is man's ability to complicate simplicity. - Thor-Heyerdahl

Casting Stones At Glass Legal Opinions

I love legal opinions. They’re so much fun to read. How about this summary, for example: “Caselaw prohibiting employers from requiring applicants to sign arbitration agreements is overruled.” That’s the Los Angeles Daily Journal's’s interpretation of a newly decided Ninth Circuit case.

Wouldn’t it be easier to say: “Employers can require applicants to sign arbitration agreements?”

Twelve words down to eight. I know you don’t know as much as you did with the twelve-word version, but you lose the double implied negative that makes the longer version hard to read.

Wonderful wordsmithing is not limited to the Daily Journal. The Ninth Circuit gets into it, too. In the opinion itself, the Judges conclude the introduction with:

“While we disagree with Luce Forward II's [a lower, U.S. District Court opinion out of the Southern District] conclusion that Circuit City [a U.S. Supreme Court opinion] implicitly overruled Duffield [a Ninth Circuit opinion] we need not explore that disagreement in detail. [Fn. omitted]. It suffices to note that the panel opinion has been with drawn. Id. [and sic]. We now conclude that, although Circuit City did not overrule Duffield, Duffield was wrongly decided; we therefore overrule it ourselves. “

You can't fire me, I quit. Or something like that. Actually, the Ninth Circuit was acknowledging that it was the only Circuit standing out in the cold with this opinion, and reversed itself before the U.S. Supreme Court did.

Now, the world is clear once again. An employer can require a job applicant to sign a contract that includes an arbitration provision. Wasn't that easy?

It’s tough to cast stones, though. I cringe every day when I go back and read some of my postings on this weblog. The only good thing is that when I spot an error, I can correct it, if I spot it. When the courts goof, it’s in the opinion for good, because it’s in print.

The internet has its’ benefits. [Did you catch that one?]

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, October 01, 2003

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