Thursday, October 28, 2010

Valadez-Munoz v. Holder (9th Cir. - Oct. 28, 2010)

Continuing the theme from yesterday, this morning the Ninth Circuit brings us another opinion with a "special" word.  Though this time, it's not a creatively-spelled obscenity.

It's a run-of-the-mill immigration case, holding that a person who tried to cross the border illegally by pretending to be a U.S. citizen (by using someone else's birth certificate) isn't eligible for cancellation of removal.  Shortly into the court's analysis, the opinion says:  "[I]n this civil proceeding we are almost asked to
take a flight of fancy when we are asked to believe that Valadez was not asserting citizenship at that time."

Then immediately follows the relevant line:  "We are not that gormless about life in the real world."

Admission time.  I had no idea what "gormless" meant.  Had never seen that word before.  Though, from the context, its meaning was crystal clear.  Those of us from my generation would probably say "clueless" instead.

So I kept on reading.  Occasionally stumbling across other ten-cent words as well.

Which made me think:  I'm pretty confident I know who wrote this opinion.

Yep.  Judge Fernandez.

I figured that this was another word that Judge Fernandez introduced for the first time in a published opinion.  But I was wrong.  The word has been used three times before.  By the same person.  Not Judge Fernandez.

Judge Fernandez's doppelganger is Judge John Kane.  From the District of Colorado.  The author of three different federal district court opinions that also use the word "gormless".

So not totally unprecedented.  But still a new word for me.