Friday, May 01, 2009

In Re Boyajian (9th Cir. - May 1, 2009)

Is it a new Ninth Circuit thing? Or is it Willie?

Today brings something new -- or at least new to me -- in the list of counsel in the Ninth Circuit. In both of the published panel cases today, the opinion lists the name of the relevant law firms or legal organizations involved (but not the attorneys) in ALL CAPS. So, for example, in this case, the listing for "John Randall Dudrey (argued), Williams Fredrickson, Portland, Oregon" becomes "John Randall Dudrey (argued), WILLIAMS FREDRICKSON, Portland, Oregon."

Attorneys often do a similar thing on the caption, so maybe this makes some sense. Though in a written opinion it does abnormally stand out, AND IS ALMOST LIKE WE'RE SHOUTING OUT THE LAW FIRM'S NAME. So it's a bit weird.

Plus, it does lead to some perhaps unexpected difficulties. For example, check out the other published panel opinion today, this one. Who represented the appellant? Howard N. Madris; Alan G. Tippie, SULMEYERKUPETZ. "Sulmeyerkupetz"?! What the hell is that? A jumble of letters in German? Makes more sense in traditional lower case. SulmeyerKupetz. No space so we're cool. But when it's in all caps, you don't know where the gap would ordinarily be.

I say I don't know whether this is a Ninth Circuit or Willie thing because, on the one hand, it's the first day of May, so maybe we're starting a new thing. Alternately, however, all of the opinions published by panels today are authored by Judge William Fletcher, so maybe that's just how he's doing it. The en banc opinion published today, authored by Chief Judge Kozinski, doesn't use all caps. So I guess we'll find out on Monday whether this is a new thing or merely an anomaly.