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Locomotion in motion

Sometimes judges mercifully take the edge off their legalese-heavy opinions by employing literary devices.

A federal judge in Washington grabbed headlines last month with his penchant for rhyme. In an opinion in May, Court of Appeals Judge Glenn T. Harrell opened with an allusion to Julius Caesar’s account of his formative military campaign through Central Europe. And retired Court of Special Appeals Judge Charles E. Moylan Jr. rarely pens an opinion without some dramatic turns of phrase or esoteric references.

Apparently keen to flex his facility with literary devices, U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus took advantage of the transportation subject matter in the case of Beckham v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., et al. to explain his ruling in an opinion last week.

The case involves a commuter’s racial discrimination claims against Amtrak and the Maryland Transit Administration for a series of hostile interactions with a conductor on the MARC Penn line two years ago.

“Much like that train, this case has traveled from the District of Columbia to Maryland following the granting of MTA’s motion to transfer the case to this Court,” Titus begins rather innocently.

“When this case pulled into Greenbelt from the District of Columbia, MTA immediately sought to disembark from the case based in part on its purported Eleventh Amendment immunity …,” Titus continues. “Plaintiff, however, contends that MTA should have raised its immunity argument before buying its ticket and catching the train to this Court.”

Titus dismissed all claims against the MTA except one, concluding, “[n]evertheless, MTA cannot exit the train just yet, as the Court declines to award it summary judgment as to Plaintiff’s Count V claims.”

Are you “all aboard” with injecting a bit of levity into the disposition of motions or did Titus’ train run away?

BRENDAN KEARNEY, Legal Affairs Writer

No comments

  1. I can roll with it. It’s kinda like…
    he’s going back/
    to a simpler place and time.