The Importance of Spell-Checking Your Brief


The interwebs have been abuzz this week with gleeful snarking about Sanches v. Carollton-Farmers Branch I.S.D., particularly the Fifth Circuit's dressing down of Sanches' attorney for "grammatical errors ... so egregious and obvious that an average fourth grader would have avoided most of them." Ouch.

Of course, checking your brief for spelling and grammatical errors is important, and not just so you can avoid having a federal court of appeals tell that you are approximately as literate as a 9-year-old. Much like having a run in your stockings (I hear nylons are making a comeback) or a stain on your tie, careless errors in your brief distract from the quality of your argument. Why slave for hours to craft a brilliant argument if the court is going to be too busy snickering over your failure to master subject-verb agreement to notice?

As if that's not enough, careless briefing can cost you money (I knew that would get your attention).

Consider the hapless advocate in Devore v. City of Philadelphia, who consistently submitted filings replete with typographical errors -- including, most memorably, a typographical error in the word "typo." The result, when it came time to award attorney's fees, was a $150 reduction in the hourly rate claimed for written work. Again, ouch.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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