Wednesday, June 29, 2022

In re Dezi C. (Cal. Ct. App. - June 29, 2022)

It's always nerve-racking whenever you publish stuff because, inevitably, there will be small (or large) errors that display your ignorance. No one's perfect. Whether it's spelling, grammar, carelessness, etc. Everyone's going to make mistakes. For everyone to see.

Moreover, in the Court of Appeal, since any amendments to a published opinion involve a separate publication, any mistakes are highlighted by the error-correction process. So even someone missed the error the first time, the second time, they get a whole separate document with a laser focus on what was wrong the first time.

This came to mind when Justice Hoffstadt amended this opinion to change two instances of the use of the word "fulsome" in the opinion to "comprehensive". That's something that you see sometimes. Justices on occasion use words that don't necessarily mean what they think they mean.

But here, honestly, I think that Justice Hoffstadt's original use of the word "fulsome" was entirely fine. It's an ICWA case in which the Court of Appeal remands "for the agency to conduct a more fulsome inquiry on this topic." I get the reason for the amendment; the principal definition of "fulsome" is "complimentary or flattering to an excessive degree," and that's definitely not what Justice Hoffstadt means.

But the second definition of "fulsome" -- indeed, the first definition according to a number of sources -- is "characterized by abundance" or "generous in amount or extent." Which is exactly what Justice Hoffstadt means. (That's also typically how I use the term, on those extraordinarily rare occasions on which I do so.)

So I'm just fine, of course, with "comprehensive," which captures Justice Hoffstadt's meaning perfectly and without using a ten-cent word.

But "fulsome" was just fine for me as well. Both when I first read the opinion -- and I vaguely recall remarking to myself on that word choice then -- as well as now.

That's my fulsome assessment for today, anyway.