ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Judge Demeans Himself: Composes Legal Limerick

For some reason, my co-blogger Meredith Miller thinks I ought to be the one to blog about an opinion recently issued by Judge Berle M. Schiller of the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.  The full report on the case is available for subscribers to the New York Lawyer here.  The rest of you will have to do with my synopsis of the report.

The case, Sullivan v. Limerick Golf Club Inc., involved a brawl at the Golf Club's bar, the Sand Trap.  Plaintiff Sullivan alleged that the club was liable because it served his alleged assailant drinks after the latter was already visibly intoxicated.  The club tardily moved to implead the allaged assailant in violation of F.R.C.P. 14, leading the Judge to quip:

"Unfortunately for Limerick, their sub-par performance occurred in the pleading stage of this case and not on the golf course."  Already drunk with his own wit, the judge then summarized his holding as follows:

With arguments hard to resist,
The movant correctly insists,
His joinder was tardy,
And so the third-party
Complaint is hereby dismissed.

In my view, this opinion sets a bad precedent.

[Jeremy Telman]

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Oh, come on. A number of judges (including PA Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin) are far less restrained when it comes to working poems into his opinions, and so far the sky has not fallen. Lighten up.

Posted by: Publius | Jun 25, 2008 3:51:26 PM

My dear Publius, I suggest to you that my criticisms of Judge Schiller's versified opinion may not have been entirely in earnest.

If you are a fan of legal Limericks, you might check out this thread on our blog:

But I will say this in all seriousness with respect to Justice Eakin's verse: It is a thing to be remarked upon with gratitude these days when a writer of verse purports to value meter and rhyme. Still, with all due respect, Justice Eakin's verse is on the level of a 19th-century newspaper verse scribbler. His lines don't scan properly; he uses archaisms and inversions that, even in light verse, do his prosody no credit. His rhymes alternate between the forced and the predictable. If I were a litigant on the wrong side of one of his opinions, I would not object to having my case dismissed in verse. I would object to having it dismissed in doggerel.

Posted by: Jeremy Telman | Jun 25, 2008 4:18:30 PM

Fair enough. I agree that when judges do this sort of thing, they should at least do it well (as you do - fine limericks indeed). But while I wouldn't call it dignified, I don't think it's really demeaning.

Posted by: Publius | Jun 25, 2008 5:54:39 PM

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