May It Please The Court

MIPTC Home
MIPTC
Features
RSS Feeds
Blogrolls
Profiles
 
MIPTC Author
About J. Craig Williams
Primer
Contributors
 

Bookstore:
May It Please The Court
by Leonard Rivkin
Barnes & Noble

 
Law.com CLE
Law.com Books
 
 

Weblog Comments
Return to the Weblog

Quote of the Day - I respect a man who knows how to spell a word more than one way. - Mark Twain
Claim Your Profile on Avvo

Sea Sponges Take Over Appellate Brief

Hold on to your computer mouse before you hit "Replace All" on your word processor's spell check.  Here's a story that will make any spell-check conscious lawyer cringe. 

A Santa Cruz solo practitioner representing a judge, now retired from the bench, sought reversal of his somewhat forced resignation due to a flap over traffic ticket convictions.  The lawyer submitted a brief to the court of appeal and dutifully ran spell check before submitting it.  The brief contained the Latin words sua sponte, which mean "of one's own will," and commonly meant by lawyers to refer to a Court's own power to do something on its own.

After submitting the brief, he got a call from his client, the former judge, asking for an explanation of the Latin phrase "sea sponge."  (Side note here, and although I haven't taken Latin classes in awhile, "sea sponge" isn't Latin.)

Turns out that the lawyer was using Word Perfect, which doesn't have sua sponte in its dictionary.

The program does, however, think that "sua" was probably meant to refer to "sea," and since you've been paying attention so far - yep you guessed it - Word Perfect also thought "sponte" was supposed to be "sponge."

When the lawyer clicked "Replace All" each time on those two words, the word processor replaced sua sponte five times, and gave the brief such gems as:  "An appropriate instruction limiting the judge's criminal liability in such a prosecution must be given sea sponge explaining that certain acts or omissions by themselves are not sufficient to support a conviction,"  as well as "It is well settled that a trial court must instruct sea sponge on any defense, including a mistake of fact defense."

MITPC is checking to see if there's a Black's Dictionary download for the Word and Word Perfect dictionaries.  We'll keep you informed. 

March 4, 2006 Update:  faithful spellcheckers may want to try SpellEx's product for law firms, software recommended by one of MIPTC's technical consultants.  We're going to give it a try and will let you know how it turns out. 

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, March 02, 2006 at 20:17 Comments (1)


Comments

Comments by felix from Canada on Friday, March 03, 2006 at 06:23 - IP Logged
your writting is very precise and talented , why dont you write on the most important issue of how technology changes the law and our profession. I will difinatly follow your story


Add your Comments
You may also leave audio comments by calling our audio comment line at 206-338-3088. Leave us a message and we'll post it here.

Please do not include any HTML or URLs in the comment field. If included, your comment will not be accepted.
*Indicates required fields
Name*:
Country*:
E-mail:
Comments*:
Character Count: