Magazine article Policy & Practice

Say What

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Say What

Article excerpt

Using big words has its place, but a rural courthouse is probably not one of them. A friend of mine and I were trying a charity case in New Mexico over continuing services to an elderly couple when the power company's lawyer said that a certain proposition he was trying to establish could not be "gainsaid." The judge looked perplexed, so I said that he was trying to say that his point couldn't be denied. The judge said it could and ruled for us before adding that he never thought he would find himself in agreement with a Texan.

From a state agency document on better writing: "The passive voice should not be employed in agency rules." Perhaps the writer was just being ironic.

To which I would add: Always avoid alliteration. I'm reminded of a friend who was excited about a provision in his aunt's will, which provided that he would receive the "rest, residue and remainder of her estate" until he found out that meant the contents of her basement.

A friend from the East Coast reports being asked by a reporter if he had "legal functionality" in his Medicaid office. He said no but that they did have some lawyers. …

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