By Miranda Pennoyer • February 10, 2010•Writers in Residence
It’s time once again for “Ask Miranda Pennoyer,” the column that gives no legal advice, or none that any sane person would follow. Rather, we strive to apply an ointment of knowledge to the burning questions of law students, young professionals, and people who think they are on Cash Cab.
Our first question comes from a concerned student in Gainesville, FL:
Q. What is the difference between “ex ante” and “ex post”?
A. “Ex ante” is a Latin consumptive phrase used when lawyers talk, write, or play poker, such as “he lost $100 before the ex ante.” Whereas “ex post” is a perennial postulate used to describe someone who used to work for USPS.
Q. What about “whereas”?
A. This is an analgesic hyperbola used by Shakespeare to confuse high school students: “Romeo, Romeo, whereas art thou?” Feel free to “pepper” your language with words such as these in everyday legal settings.
WRONG: “Your client is a jerk, whereas you are an idiot.”
RIGHT: “If you are trying to prove my client guilty, whereas the evidence?” At this point, the jury’s eyes should begin to water.
Q. And if they don’t?
A. You may have to use mace.
Q. Can you explain the Supreme Court’s holding in Iqbal, written by Justice Kennedy?
A. No one can.
After the jump, find out what all this has the to with The Princess Bride and other vital facts ...
Q. But what does it mean for me as a practicing attorney?
A. You should file an Iqbal motion to dismiss at every opportunity. You should keep spare copies on your desk and hand them out like flyers. Whenever people on the street give you a dirty look, you can stick your tongue out, say a few choice words, and hand them an Iqbal motion and then you’re untouchable because NOBODY CAN SUE YOU EVER AGAIN HAHAHAHAHA!
Q. What if somebody just uses a form from the appendix per Rule 84?
A. Shut up.
Q. And if someone files an Iqbal motion against me?
A. You’re doomed.
A. Seriously, you’re doomed. In order to stay in court, a complaint has to have enough information that it is plausible.
Q. That WHAT is plausible?
A. This has been the subject of speculation. For some, it is whether it is plausible that opposing counsel will run screaming from the courthouse. For others, it is whether it is plausible that they will get paid. Still more say it’s whether it’s plausible that the judge has a vacation planned with nonrefundable tickets.
Q. It’s plausible that this will cause headaches for a long time.
A. Yes. You have to remember that in this landmark case, the Supreme Court has moved away from the “Princess Bride” standard, where a case would be thrown out only if it was INCONCEIVABLE!
Q. That was an awful joke.
A. We know. But thanks to Iqbal, that joke will be lost to the annuls of history.
A. That is whereas this country is headed.
Q. Speaking of, did you know that the letters in “Justice Kennedy” can be rearranged to say “Nine jested: yuck!”
A. Also “I deject key nuns.”
Q. Do you have some sort of witty way to close this column?
A. It is plausible — but it was lost at the ex post office.
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