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Harrell goes Hollywood, cuts to the chase

It’s been a while since I’ve opened a blog post with, “It’s been a while since we’ve checked the opinions of Court of Appeals Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr.” But a colleague has alerted me to two opinions from Thursday that deserve proper acknowledgement.

We begin at the beginning of a family law opinion, which starts thusly. I’ve added in bold where he placed citations:

A character portrayed by the actress Julia Roberts observed, “Happiness isn’t happiness without a violin-playing goat.”  If that be so, the live goat included as part of the dowry at a traditional marriage ceremony on 23 December 1993 in Kinshasa, Zaire, marking Marie-Louise Ntumba’s union with Noel Tshiani, was no Vivaldi.

That’s right, three footnotes in the first two sentences! That must be a some sort of record. The first footnote explains the quote came from Anna Scott, played by Roberts in 1999’s “Notting Hill.” The second footnote clarifies that “Zaire” is now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The final footnote cites Vivaldi as “one of the most accomplished violinists in world history.”

In the second case, Harrell filed a dissenting opinion in a case involving local government liability and auto insurance.

“I dissent,” Harrell begins. “At the expense of legal scholarship, I reject the Majority opinion’s result as contrary to common sense.”

In a footnote, Harrell elaborates on his succinctness:

Had I thought there to be a prayer that a more conventionally-expressed and erudite dissent (replete with citation of “legal” authorities and the deployment of reasoning based on those authorities) might draw enough of my colleagues to my view, I would have invested the time in that pursuit. With the benefit of knowing that such a prayer would not be answered however, I default to a more economical, plain-spoken invocation of common sense merely to record my idiosyncratic views.

Thank you for your honesty, your honor.