Wednesday, April 07, 2010

U.S. v. Andrews (9th Cir. - April 7, 2010)

I understand pride of authorship. I also know that judges may occasionally change their votes after reading a draft opinion.

Those understandings aside, I always find it funny when I read an opinion by a three-judge panel in which the panel has to explain who's writing what and in which the "opinion for the court" is also authored by a dissenter.

So in this morning's case, for example, Judge Alarcon authors the opinion for the court on one issue, but dissents as to another. Which is sometimes efficient (though a hassle to follow), at least with larger panels.

But here, Judges Clifton and Fernandez both agree on every issue, and so Judge Clifton writes a "concurring" opinion that Judge Fernandez joins. Given this fact, it'd be a lot easier to follow if the majority opinion was authored by Judge Clifton (potentially just dupe-and-revising a draft and/or bench memo by Judge Alarcon) with a simple "partial dissent" by Judge Alarcon. Rather than having Judge Alarcon write the majority opinion in part and a dissent in part.

No biggie. You can still follow the opinion if you try. But easier is often better.