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Monday, June 11, 2007

Bruce Willis had better never appear before Judge Stafsholt

Staff writer Dan Heilman has a nice interview piece with Pope County Judge Jon Stafsholt in this week's Minnesota Lawyer. (Click here to see the whole interview, subscriber password required.) One quote that I particularly like was Stafsholt's response to Dan's question asking the judge whether he had any pet peeves about the lawyers who appear before him:

I wouldn’t call it a pet peeve, but I do have a concern about some lawyers who do not have an adequate grasp of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Because of the crushing caseloads, judges must rely on lawyers to prepare some proposed orders.

However, some proposed orders are so carelessly drawn that I would be professionally embarrassed to sign them. A misplaced comma, for example, can change the meaning of a legal document. Some lawyers even mix up “petitioner” and “respondent,” which, in a marriage dissolution proceeding, could result in a finding that the husband is not pregnant. Many use a plural verb with a singular subject. ... I do not like to have to take time to proofread legal documents for grammar, but, unfortunately, it is necessary in some cases.

I don’t understand how some people can get through high school, college and law school without understanding grammar. Anybody can learn it. ... I appreciate lawyers who view themselves as wordsmiths and can finely craft legal documents free of factual or grammatical mistakes. OK, I guess it is a pet peeve!

That one goes out to all you lawyers who didn't think English class was important. Of course, as a former English major, I am biased. I do advise that if you should ever find yourself practicing in Judge Stafsholt's courtroom, you bone up on your grammar. Otherwise it ain't gonna be pretty.

On a related note, someone pointed out to me a
Hollywood site talking about the new Die Hard film on which Bruce Willis himself joined the discussion and posted some of his thoughts. One fellow blogger on the site expressed doubt that the comments were actually coming from the folliclely challenged star, citing as one ground for his skepticism the fact that Willis' purported postings were riddled with typos. (It was later confirmed that the comments actually were from Willis.) But rather than apologizing for his grammatical miscues, the unrepentant ex-husband of Demi Moore posted a response stating: "Proofreading is for p*ssies ..." (Sorry for the asterisk, but this is a family blog after all.) You can check out the full New York Post story on Willis' blog misadventures by clicking here.

I suppose I should disappointed that a Hollywood type would set such a poor example for his younger fans by promoting illiteracy. However, since Willis has a rapidly aging fan base anyway, I suspect the damage will be minimal. Besides, it's hard to have too high expectations for a guy whose catch phrase is "Yippee-Kay-Ay!"


Kevin said...

Last paragraph of your article: "I suppose I should disappointed...." While I agree with you and the Judge Stafsholt and disagree with Mr. Willis, some grammatical errors or omissions are inevitable. I am similarly annoyed when I see these mistakes by others but I know that I'm very capable of making them.

Kevin said...

See..."the Judge Stafsholt"? I inserted Stafsholt last minute and didn't re-read.... Anyway, I enjoy the blog.