Jurisdiction,  Legal Writing

Judicial Opinion Shortcuts: Skipping the Substance of the Argument

Sometimes, a judicial opinion leaves you wondering what a party contended on appeal.  That’s always a little frustrating.  OK, not always, but when it involves a pet interest (in my case, jurisdiction), it leaves one wanting more.

Such is the case with White v. Mayflower Transit, case no. 07-55528 (9th Cir. Sept. 12, 2008), in which the court writes that the pro se appellant contended that the district court lacked removal jurisdiction over the case.  But they don’t explain the substance of the appellant’s argument.  They merely explain how the facts of the case demonstrate the applicability of a federal statute that grants exclusive jurisdiction to the federal courts.  Pretty cut-and-dried.

Why not say what the appellant’s argument was?  Given the fact he was pro se and the short, plain way in which the court establishes the existence of removal jurisdiction, I get the sense that we were robbed of a very interesting read.  Shouldn’t the court at least mention what the argument was, even if just to dismiss it as ridiculous and thereby reduce the chance that it is raised by a subsequent litigant?

I got curious enough that I looked up the case on Westlaw.  The appellant’s brief wasn’t available, but the appellee’s brief was, and according to appellee, the appellant’s arguments were “difficult to decipher.”  Thus the appellee, like the court, skipped right over the substance of appellant’s argument and presented an affirmative case for jurisdiction without trying to refute whatever it was appellant was trying to say.

One Comment

  • Joe

    Any time a pro se situation arises, it undoubtedly creates confusion, and sometimes chaos. Individuals who desire to represent themselves don’t understand the complexity of the legal system, especially an appelliate matter.