Monday, October 29, 2012

Laurel Park Community LLC v. City of Tumwater (9th Cir. - Oct. 29, 2012)

This may well be the most well-written opinion I've read this year.  (And I've read a lot.)

I'm not talking about substance.  Though that's good too.  I'm more focused on the writing.  The organization, the sentence structure, the way the introduction sets up the analysis, the flow:  all of these are accomplished masterfully.

I could not have written an opinion that was even a third as good.  Really:  Well done, Judge Graber and chambers.  An outstanding, outstanding job.

(The case, by the way, is about zoning mobile home parks and whether it's a taking.  I've read two or three dozen opinions about this topic over the years, and none have even approached the clarity or the persuasiveness of this one.  And I say that having no strong feelings either way about the merits.  The opinion is outstanding not because it reaffirms my preexisting prejudices, but rather because I can tell a well-written opinion when I read one, and this is definitely it.)

The one caveat I'll make -- if only because I'd otherwise be gushing -- is that the very end of the opinion (the portion about spot zoning) wasn't as good as the rest of the opinion.  That part seemed rushed and overly conclusory.

So nothing's perfect.  Not even this opinion.

But it comes darn close.