Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Oakland Raiders v. NFL (Cal. Ct. App. - July 28, 2005)

The Oakland Raiders lost a case earlier this year in the Court of Appeal, which I discussed here. Now the Raiders make it 0-2. Justice Premo here affirms the grant of summary judgment against the Raiders on their claims against the NFL for breach of fiduciary duty. Let's hope that the Raiders do equally as well against the Chargers this year as they have against the NFL in the Court of Appeal.

The merits of the opinion speak for themselves. I wanted to comment only on the three-paragraph concurrence of Justice Rushing. I'm fairly confident that this is the first concurrence I've ever seen that is devoted exclusively to an issue of grammar; moreover, one that makes no utterly difference whatsoever to the result. The only think that Justice Rushing does is to argue that the term "Oakland Raiders" is singular, rather than plural, and hence (for example) that the opinion should say "The Oakland Raiders is" rather than "The Oakland Raiders are".

Mind you, I actually have an opinion on the merits of this grammatical dispute. But that's beside the main point, which is this: Who freaking cares? Do we really need several trees to die in order to allow a jurist to opine on proper grammatical form in an opinion in which it matters not? What's next? A concurrence that says "I concur in the 'judgment' but would spell 'judgment' with an e, as in 'judgement'"? That'd be an equally valid -- an unnecessary -- addition to precedent. Just leave it alone.

Admittedly, I'm sure that my reaction to Justice Rushing's concurrence is affected by the fact that these three paragraphs are not only entirely unnecessary, but also entail an incredibly lame attempt to be funny. Which is why the concurrence includes, for example, a claim that this alleged grammatical error "is personally foul and deserves dissent, if not a 15-yard penalty and loss of down." Oh my. I'm gripping my sides and rolling on the floor. Hilarious. Really. (I'll save you from the additional pitiful references to "second-stringers" and air horns by not repeating them. They're even lamer.)

Okay, I know you're dying for my opinion on the merits of the grammatical dispute. Which is that it's a cultural thing. American English and English English are different. So, in the U.K., for example, they do indeed say things like "Manchester United are great this year." Whereas we, by contrast, would say "Who the hell is Manchester United, and what the hell are they playing. It says on the T.V. Guide that it's 'football', but all they're doing is kicking a little white thing around. Where's Brett Favre?"

Really, the grammar of the two cultures is different. And we here in America routinely say "The Oakland Raiders are 0-2" or "The Oakland Raiders are evil" rather than "The Oakland Raiders is . . ." That's just the way we do it. And when you do it long enough -- as we have -- it becomes okay. So that's my take. Which is yet another reason I wouldn't have written Justice Rushing's concurrence.