Judges can be funny

Last fall, I knew I was becoming a tech law geek when I couldn’t stop laughing reading the Supreme Court’s opinion in Reno v. ACLU. That opinion was fairly early in the life of the WWW, and was thus stuck in the position of having to define much of the terminology and mechanics of the Internet for the legal context. I found the resulting use of scare quotes highly entertaining. For example:

A particular Web page may contain the information sought by the “surfer,” or, through its links, it may be an avenue to other documents located anywhere on the Internet. Users generally explore a given Web page, or move to another, by clicking a computer “mouse” on one of the page’s icons or links.

Stevens also had some really choice lines in his writings about Grokster. But I think the one I just read about on BoingBoing takes the cake: a Texas bankruptcy judge decided to blast a defendant for the utter incomprehensibility of their arguments by actually quoting from the movie Billy Madison in a footnote:

1Or, in the words of the competition judge to Adam Sandler’s title character in the movie “Billy Madison,” after Billy Madison had responded to a question with an answer that sounded superficially reasonable but lacked any substance,

Mr Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I’ve ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Deciphering motions like the one presented here wastes valuable chamber staff time, and invites this sort of footnote.

Am I alone in finding this utterly, fantastically hilarious?


2 thoughts on “Judges can be funny

  1. Yeah, that rules. There was also an NYT article about someone who went through the transcripts and quantified how many times each SCOTUS justice said something that led to laughter. Scalia was the funniest.

    It’s lost to NYT’s pay archive now, but here’s the link anyway.

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