Monday, September 26, 2005

139 Words and Change

I think I've finally discovered why I don't like reading or hearing about legalese. According to My Fair Lady, the case she is currently using for research has a sentence that is nine lines in length and 139 words. No, Dickens had no part in it.

It's an insanity ruling from 1895, back in the days when lawyers were apparently paid by the word. This, despite my extensive interest and knowledge of history, was something I was unaware of.

I think it explains pretty much every grievance against attorneys since the dawn of time. Each ruling is a mini Ark of the Covenant in its denseness. Any mere mortal who so seeketh to divine the meaning of such cases, would be struck dead, or at the very least left incoherently mumbling since their brain was crushed by the sheer difficulty in untangling these word mazes. My Fair Lady read me the aforementioned nine lines, and by line 2.5 I could feel the walls of my skull caving in. By the time she hit line 5.3, I was drooling.

I don't quite recall lines 7-9 so either she took pity on me and stopped or I blacked out.

Current lawyers no longer are paid by the word, but in reading any current ruling (by current I mean in the last century), you'd think that whoever decided to no longer pay based on verbiage would have at least told the lawyers they could keep things simple. If anything, current rulings seem to go on even longer than they did 100 years ago. Time has shown us many things, and currently it shows me that attorneys of all ages throughout the ages have never let their love of their own intelligence get in the way of simplicity.

I guess that's why My Fair Lady keeps me around. Whenever she asks my opinion on how she should proceed with a motion, I shout out "Fry 'em! If they're crazy, tell them it's a ride! They'll love it!"

Reason #108 why I could never be an attorney.

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