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November 19, 2012


F. R. Eggers

We seem to have an advanced case of acronytis.


Judge Kleinfeld of the Ninth Circuit has been making a similar complaint for decades. The best example was where he explained how "Specialists might find this opinion more accessible if we explain that it concerns a NEPA challenge to a ROD of the BLM concluding that a FEIS adequately evaluated CBM development under the Powder River Resource Area RMP. The district court held the FEiS inadequate and partially enjoined approval of APDs until BLM completed a SEIS." Northern Cheyenne Tribe v. Norton, 503 F.3d 836, 839 n.1 (9th Cir. 2007); see also Longview Fibre Co. v. Rasmussen, 980 F.2d 1307, 1308 n.1 (9th Cir. 1992).

Damian I. Cano

It's not so much a question of whether the judge or litigants understand the acronym, it is a matter of clarity that will affect citations of the case in perpetuity. These briefs, oral arguments, and statements must be comprehensible after the passage of time, so as to make easy understanding for those who might find legal or historical relevance in the proceedings.


I think that the rule requiring a glossary is brilliant, though it seems like providing the acronym in parallel cite in the source list would meet the same end.


There may be bigger fish to fry, but judges have a lot of fry pans. The opportunity cost of nudging the bar on this issue doesn't seem all that high.

John Q Public


Steven J Fromm

Come on. Really. He is making a point about this. A tax attorney would be lost without those babies.

C.E. Petit

As long as FRAP 32(a)(7) exists, and acronyms either take up less space or count as only a single word to word-counting programs, we're going to have to deal with them in briefs. A lot.

Of course, if lawyers were better writers in the first place (and weren't bound by excrutiatingly goofy citation rules that often eat up a much greater proportion of limited word counts than acronyms save), this wouldn't be that significant an issue. String cites are much greater barriers to comprehension than acronyms!


WTF is he worrying about?


I agree with the DC Circuit. With the advent of macros, there is little reason to use Acronyms. I type HUD, and my machine gives me Housing and Urban Development. Space saving? Maybe not, but I find I have plenty of convoluted sentences that can be shortened for crisper writing without worrying about acronyms.


A judge of his experience is unfamiliar with EIS and NEPA? Seriously? How would it help for the party to say "Statement" or "Act" instead? Unless the courts want the repetitive use of long terms or long statute names or are willing to allow more briefing space to accommodate such repetition, then the court ought to be a bit less demanding. I will concede that the judge has a point concerning "SAMDA" and "HECM."

Toni Smith

At last! A judge who feels the same way that I do about acronyms! Judge Silberman, you are my hero! Had to write a glossary of acronyms for electric utility once. It was a mind-numbing experience, but the glossary was well-used. Personal short rule: First use of an acronym has to be preceded by its meaning written out in full. Subsequent use of the acronym refers back to page on which it first appeared (e.g., LOL [Laughed Out Loud], p. 43). Keep the faith; I am your eternal advocate.

Ron Miller

I think there are probably bigger fish to fry than acronyms. Forest. Trees.

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