Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had plenty of one-liners for the Texas Bar Association's annual meeting in Dallas this morning.
Scalia and Dallas lawyer Bryan Garner playfully argued about the proper ways to write legal briefs and argue before judges Friday morning before a packed ballroom.
Scalia’s tips were directed at the room full of lawyers but many would apply to a mass audience.
Scalia's rules for writing:
-"Vary your sentences. They shouldn’t be all the same length...I would say even throw in a passive now and then, just for the hell of it."
-“If you’re constantly italicizing words, it sort of reads like a high school girl’s diary."
-"Don’t ever underestimate the power of a short sentence."
-Avoid the phrase "Fatally flawed." Scalia hates it.
-Also avoid the word "nexus." “Oh god,” the Supreme Court Justice groaned. “It’s a Latin word that means connection. Say ‘connection.’ You make it sound scientific.”
-Don't use contractions in writing. "Is any judge going to get mad because you don’t use contractions? I’m going to get mad if you do." (When Garner pointed out plenty of writers use contractions, including those at Newsweek, Scalia quipped, "I certainly want to be in that league.")
And here's a few other Scalia rules that apply if you were to say, run into him on the street:
-Avoid using words you don’t know how to pronounce. "I’ve listened to lawyers who have sent five kids to college on nuclear power and still can’t say the name right. It’s nuclear. Nuclear."
-Try to make yourself likable. “No judge likes to give a case to a mean spirited person. I’ll do it if the law requires it.”