For the rest of the world, “a facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.” Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night, 1935. To non-lawyers, quoting is viewed as “saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.” A.A. Milne, If I May, 1920.
But, in our profession, perhaps because of the common law’s reliance on stare decisis, an idea expressed as a direct quote from a published case is almost uniformly regarded as being better than one expressed using the author’s own voice. And, what’s better than that? An idea expressed as a direct quote from a case which was itself a direct quote from another case, complete with ‘internal quotations marks’, a team of [brackets] to reflect changes, ellipses thrown in here and there, all tied together with a string site that extends to the end of the page. Whatever the virtue of a quote-driven profession may be, the result is that our writing is painful to read.
His idea started as a tweet, but has grown into a full article entitled, Cleaning Up Quotations, soon to be published in the Journal of Appellate Practice and Process. Using (cleaned up) would signal to the reader that:
The author has (i) removed extraneous, non-substantive material like brackets, quotation marks, ellipses, footnote signals, and internal citations; and (ii) may have changed capitalization without brackets. The quotation otherwise faithfully reproduces the quoted text.
The idea has already won the approval of at least one of Mr. Metzler’s peers in the appellate writing Twitterati:
I like “cleaned up” as a signal in legal cites. Reavely J. may have been the first circuit judge to use it.
@BryanAGarner, 18 Aug 2017, 1:55 PM.