Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Comey Hearing: Praise for Good Legal Writing

In case you missed it, many Legal Writing Profs felt their hearts beat more quickly when they heard this exchange:

 Here is the exchange James Comey had with Senator James Risch from Idaho:

RISCH:  Yesterday, I got, and everybody got, the seven pages of your direct testimony that’s now a part of the record, here. And the first — I read it, then I read it again, and all I could think was, number one, how much I hated the class of legal writing when I was in law school.

And you were the guy that probably got the A, after — after reading this. So I — I find it clear, I find it concise and, having been a prosecutor for a number of years and handling hundred — maybe thousands of cases and read police reports, investigative reports, this is as good as it gets.

And — and I really appreciate that — not only — not only the conciseness and the clearness of it, but also the fact that you have things that were written down contemporaneously when they happened, and you actually put them in quotes, so we know exactly what happened and we’re — and we’re not getting some rendition of it that — that’s in your mind. So...

COMEY: Thank you, Senator.

RISCH: ... so you’re — you’re to be complimented for that.

COMEY: I had great parents and great teachers who beat that into me.

(Thnx to the Appellate Advocacy blog, June 12, 2017).

For a great examination of James Comey’s prepared testimony, see the analysis of Professor Kirsten Davis at Lady (Legal) Lawyer (here).



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Indeed, a great moment for all legal writing instructors and advocates. I watched this testimony with great interest and as soon as I heard this exchange, of course, I thought immediately of my good friends who teach legal writing, especially Professor Louis Sirico, Jr. It demonstrates that legal writing is important and that Justice Department officials need to be persuasive, effective writers.

Posted by: Emil A. Ricci | Jun 15, 2017 4:14:34 AM

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