Appellant's Brief

Legal Writing 101

We were taught in law school that a legal brief or pleading has only one purpose - to persuade. It is not to demonstrate to the court that you are smart, or that you possess a deep vocabulary, or that you can produce stylish written work. Thus, we were told that legal writing is a means to an end.

As I began my practice, writing legal briefs was a personal challenge. I did everything that I could think of to persuade the court that my cause was just and my client right. I quoted the law, the relevant jurisprudence, and the work of noted jurists. Over the years, however, preparing legal briefs has lost its flavor. I suppose this is partly because of the mediocre work most lawyers in this country create. The grasp of the English language, or lack thereof, that lawyers have in this country is appalling.

"Hereto attached machine copy of written agreement and marked as Annex B."

"But this requests were ignored by the defendant."

"The deed of donation is a product of forgery and falsification because of the false allegations and statements contained thereat."

In any event, I was suddenly in a place where legal writing had lost its appeal. And so I tried inserting literary allusions in my work. Sometimes I quote Shakespeare, Milton or TS Eliot. Now and then I am reminded of my teacher's admonition - You write because your job is to persuade the decision maker. You do not want him distracted by the things you write.

I agree. However, does not an elegantly written brief have a better chance of influencing the judge? Maybe. Then again, most likely not. But I would like to take my cue from the Supreme Court.

FPJ's death during the pendency of his election protest against GMA was undoubtedly fraught with drama. However, it was Susan Roces' motion to be substituted for her deceased husband, whilst claiming that she had no intent to occupy MalacaƱang, that provided the twist in Da King's biggest movie production. Not to be left backstage, the Supreme Court performed its role with a flourish. In resolving that FPJ's death wrote finis to the election protest, the Supreme Court quoted the Rubayyat and said, "The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on. Nor all your piety nor wit could lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it." Quite a poetic way to say that FPJ's death meant the death of the election protest.

In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that a high school teacher who falls in love with her student, and subsequently marries him, is not guilty of any misconduct and should not be terminated from employment on account thereof. Of course, the circumstances of the case were appropriately considered. What struck the romantic in me was how the Supreme Court worded its decision. It said, "If the two eventually fell in love despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know. But, definitely, yielding to this gentle and universal emotion is not be so casually equated with immorality."

If the country's driest and most imposing figures could do it, then I think a few distractions now and then would do us some good.

Pleaded by Appellant on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 @ 3:55 PM with 0 Objections