Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Emoticons and Emojis in Appellate Opinions

Professor Eric Goldman of Santa Clara University School of Law observed that as "emoticons and emojis play an increasingly important role in how we communicate with each other, they will increasingly raise legal issues." Eric Goldman, Surveying the Law of Emojis, Santa Clara University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 8-17, at 5.

This week, a "smiley face" and the "pile of poo" emoji appeared in Emerson v. Dart, an opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, The Seventh Circuit was quoting a Facebook post that used both the smiley face and the emoji. The Facebook post was written by a plaintiff who was attempting to dissuade employees of the Cook County Department of Corrections from assisting the County in its defense of the plaintiff's discrimination claim.

The Seventh Circuit opinion does not discuss the smiley face or the emoji. They are simply in a quote in the opinion. But their presence illustrates that lawyers and legal writing professors will have to start dealing with these new forms of communication that will raise issues as to their interpretation (and other legal issues flagged in Professor Goldman's article.

Hat tip to Aggie Baumert.


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