October 21, 2006
Third Circuit Enters CAFA "Less is More" Debate
As noted in an earlier post, one of the first Worst Statutes in the World was a provision of CAFA that literally requires litigants to wait 7 days before appealing certain rulings, but then gives them forever to do so. The Third Circuit issued a decision in Morgan v. Gay agreeing with the majority of the courts so far: "less" means "more." While probably correct, it sure does create a trap for those unable to deciper the Code.
The opinion was not, yet, online.
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"[W]here the words of a law ... have a plain and obvious meaning, all construction, in hostility with such meaning, is excluded. This is a maxim of law, and a dictate of common sense; for were a different rule to be admitted, no man, however cautious and intelligent, could safely estimate the extent of his engagements, or rest upon his own understanding of a law, until a judicial construction of those instruments had been obtained." 21 U.S. 1, 118 (1823).
Woe to the ordinary citizen, who apparently has no chance to comply with the law, unless he hires counsel, for the law might "mean" the exact opposite of what it "means." What a disgrace the CAFA fiasco has cast upon the legitimacy of the law.
Every single lawyer-- judge, practitioner, or academic-- should be required to spend a few hours each year in a low-income clinic or some similar institution. Having spent a significant time tutoring the illiterate, and mentoring those who have been cast off, I'm disgusted by this "devlopment" in the law. It'd be great if the legal elite understood that the law is not meant for lawyers with fancy degrees to ponder about, but for 300 million citizens to comply with. That the law has become so divorced from the ordinary man that it might mean the exact opposite of what it says is a sad indictment of the legal profession.
Posted by: andy | Oct 22, 2006 12:52:57 AM
And apolgies for being a bit overzealous (and perhaps maudlin) in my last comment. When one spends 10 hours a day interpreting statutes, he tends to form strong views :).
Posted by: andy | Oct 22, 2006 2:52:33 PM
No problem. I think the only thing that might save this particular one from being a huge trap is that it's in the class action arena, and so you're (hopefully) going to have well-qualified lawyers dealing with it.
Posted by: David Hricik | Oct 23, 2006 3:17:29 AM