Thursday, July 14, 2005

The use of "I believe" in legal analysis

I have noticed a number of students start out their legal analysis with "I feel" or "it is my opinion" - this is not a strong start to your legal analysis - look at the information on persuasive appellate briefs.

Quoting from that article:

"Judges are generally bright people. (Any judge who is reading this is definitely one of the bright ones!) They have a keen sense of the law, and they can quickly detect a bogus (i.e., fake, foggy, far-fetched) argument. While some lawyers may make deliberately bogus arguments, I think that lawyers more often do so because they don't really understand their cases, the law, or the law's application to their facts. They try to hide their ignorance in their writing. But it shows every time. Your argument will strike the judge as bogus if it displays too many of the following characteristics:

Exclamation marks!
Long, convoluted sentences that talk around the rules and facts instead of addressing them directly.
Needless repetition, including repetition of rules in the section that should instead be applying those rules to the case facts.
More law set out in quotations than in your own words of explanation.
Lots of adjectives and adverbs.
Personal attacks on the lawyers for the other side.
Insertion of your personal opinion or emotion ("I think," "we feel").
Merely citing cases without explaining how they apply.
Rolling two or more distinct issues into a single discussion.
Any conclusion that should "clearly," "obviously," or "undoubtedly" be reached. "

So what have you learned in this blog. Do Not start your legal analysis with "I believe", etc. Hope this helps. Prof J.