No Explanation Needed

GIFs are like jokes — if you have to explain them, what’s the point? I feel I have to make this clear because a federal judge in Florida the other day got a little bit of news coverage because he sort of used a GIF in a ruling footnote and then felt compelled to explain what it meant.

No, I don’t know why this was news. I guess whatever reporter found this was so shocked that a judge knew what a GIF was that he or she had to get the word out. It was kind of like spotting a llama on a freeway or something.

GIFs, for those of you unfamiliar with the concept, are very short pieces of video that play over and over again until they drive you mad or you’re forced to look away.

Admittedly, this might have been cool if the GIF had been in the ruling, but instead the judge just provided a link to a GIF of Tom Hanks saying “Really?”

Even that might have been acceptable had the judge stopped there. Instead, it was followed by this: “To be clear, the court volunteers this impression for two reasons: (1) to make its point about faux drama in briefing; and (2) to remind the parties that while this is no doubt serious litigation, ‘personalities’ in these cases don’t help anyone.”

If you’re going to say all that, why do you need the GIF?

The GIF footnote, by the way, was, ironically, in a ruling that complains about lawyers writing too much and being overly dramatic: “Strong language — like all rhetorical devices —loses strength with repeated use.”

Kind of like a GIF.

Be that as it may, I see a lot of wildly dramatic and entertaining descriptions in lawsuits all the time. I’m pretty sure that no matter how good your case is, it doesn’t help if your judge (or some annoying journalist) reads it and laughs. Keep it up, though — I do appreciate the entertainment.

For example, I found this last week in an otherwise sad slumlord case: “Looking north, the tenants have the Bank of Hope building towering over them teasing a hopeful future but in fact only providing a lifeless, glowing sign in the evening. As if even Mother Nature knew the tenants’ suffering, the tall palms near the 8th Street property do not even stand straight but slouch with gloom.”

If only we could solve the tree posture problem, life would be less bleak.

I’m picturing this movie in black and white with Spencer Tracy and a hollow-eyed Bette Davis.

Why? My favorite kind of lawsuits are the ones in which I have no idea why either side cares enough to argue, let alone go to court.

I found a good one last week: Something called Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws and a couple of John Does sued the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk of the County of Los Angeles over an “unlawful policy of prohibiting registered sex offenders from serving as poll workers in elections.”

Stop and think about that for a moment.

Why would sex offenders be so passionate about handing out “I Voted” stickers? Is seeing people punching holes in paper arousing?

And why would the county ban sex offenders from polling places? Are there too many children there? Is there no one around to see what’s going on?

It’s very mysterious.

The Great Beyond. Have you ever wondered what goes on beyond bed and bath? I hadn’t either until last week, when a federal court in Virginia issued a ruling in a case in which a woman store manager sued Bed, Bad & Beyond, Inc. for encouraging her husband to have an affair.

It seems, allegedly, that a BB&B regional manager was having an affair with another employee and he, perhaps because he was enjoying himself so much, decided to recommend that the plaintiff’s husband, a district manager, do the same thing. I’m guessing this went on in the Beyond area of the store.

When the wife found out about this, she complained and retaliation allegedly ensued.

Law practice note: Tell your corporate clients that if they want to keep their employees happy with affairs, the same opportunities must be provided to both wives and husbands. It’s only fair and it will avoid litigation.

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