Use Blockquotes When You Have a Point You Don’t Want to Make

From Judge Alex Kozinski, 9th Circuit Chief Judge:

You know what? I don’t read block quotes. I skip over them. To me, it’s yada yada yada yada. If there’s something good in there, I expect the lawyer to tell me what it is. So the bigger the block quote, the less I’m likely to find what you’re looking for.

You know what happens when I’ve got yabba yabba yabba yabba … my mind goes and I now start think about something else. I start thinking about another case, or probably I start thinking about my gardening. Or my chickens. You know, I have chickens. Or I’m saying ooh, I’m going to be going snowboarding in a couple of weeks ….

(Blockquoted for irony.) Here’s more from Judge Kozinski on over-quoting. [Thanks, Jennifer!]


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  • shg

    This is brutally accurate. Very few people read blockquotes. They don’t read them in briefs, motions, not even blog posts. No doubt someone can explain the phenomenon, but it’s absolutely real. If you have something you need to quote, like a case that goes directly against your argument, but don’t want the court to read, just blockquote it.

    It’s like magic.

    And if you really need the court to know something that was said, state it in advance of the blockquote and again after the blockquote, because they will not read the blockquote.