Opinion Writers and Law Review Writers: A Community and Continuity of Approach
18 Pages Posted: 29 May 2009 Last revised: 18 Jun 2009
Date Written: 1977
The American law review constantly subjects the work of appellate courts to intense, critical scrutiny, to a jurisprudential dissection of our opinions, to a microscopic examination of the jural sinews and fibers that compose the body of our published work. Law reviews indeed constitute an extremely valuable, extra-judicial laboratory in which our various specimens are meticulously studied and then evaluated as healthy or pathological.
Any judge sensitive to the activity or reputation of his or her court should welcome the diagnosis. In a system of government where the executive and legislative branches are constantly subject to public review at the ballot box, but where appellate judges are lifetime or long-term, it is the law review that serves as an informal check and balance; informal and unstructured, to be sure, but nevertheless, a respectable and ever-present force.
In this spirit, it becomes appropriate to discuss rules and measures by which judicial opinions should be evaluated. I do not suggest anything revolutionary. Guidelines and standards for reviewing an opinion are the same as those utilized in writing an opinion. For this reason, I believe that the writer and the reviewer should approach an opinion from the same vantage point. A common approach would produce continuity, and thus yield meaningful analyses to the readerships of both opinions and law reviews.
PDF scan posted with permission of the Duquesne Law Review.
Keywords: opinion writing, legal writing, legal scholarship, law reviews, law review writing, legal criticism, appellate law, opinions, judges, judging, judiciary, judicial process, Aldisert
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