Why Proofreading is Important

James Warren, a San Francisco Superior Court judge, refused to issue an injuction yesterday seeking to halt the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A USC law professor sees this as a victory:

USC law professor Erwin Chemerinsky said Tuesday’s court rulings bode well for the city. “In one sense,” the fact that two judges declined to issue an injunction Tuesday “is a victory for San Francisco,” said Chemerinsky. The judges’ refusal to immediately grant an injunction “shows that what San Francisco is doing is not patently invalid.”

Actually, according to this report, it shows that the attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund, the Arizona-based group opposing the city’s actions, didn’t proofread their motion for injunctive relief:

Superior Court Judge James Warren told plaintiffs late this afternoon that they would likely succeed on the merits of their case but said he would not issue a court order until they corrected a punctuation error in their legal filing.

“I am not trying to be petty here, but it is a big deal That semicolon is a big deal,” Warren told attorneys, according to an account by Associated Press.

In documents filed with the court, the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund had requested a court order that would force the city “cease and desist issuing marriage licenses to and/or solemnizing marriages of same-sex couples; to show cause before this court.”

“The way you’ve written this it has a semicolon where it should have the word ‘or’,” the judge said. “I don’t have the authority to issue it under these circumstances.”

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I’m a lawyer, and at my first job I had a boss who would make a huge deal out of every misplaced comma and split infinitive in drafts he reviewed. He would even go so far as to write “H.S. [High School] English” in the margin. I always felt this level of pedantry was uncalled-for, and I hate that this story vindicates his behavior in some small measure.

–Brought to you by the endorphin-addled brain of Robb Kestner of Running at the Mouth.

Dean Done
Why I like Leap Year


  1. Jalal Abu Jarhead February 18, 2004
  2. Robb February 18, 2004
  3. Jalal Abu Jarhead February 19, 2004
  4. Jalal Abu Jarhead February 19, 2004