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Writing ExercisesBryan Garner

5. Omit needless words.

Delete at least four consecutive words in the following sentences, replace those words with just
one word. You may rephrase ideas and rearrange sentences, but don't change the meaning.

Even assuming that the fog caused injury to Roelke, Amskills had no duty to prevent that
injury because it was idiosyncratic and Amskills could not have been expected to foresee
such injury.

At no time prior to the initial public offering did the underwriters or any officers,
directors, or employees have knowledge of any facts that would suggest that "Palm
Harbor" could not be completed on schedule and in accordance with specifications.

Beale has wholly failed to allege facts that, if true, would establish that competition
among the nation's law schools would be reduced or that the public has been in any way
injured, and this failure to allege facts that would establish an injury to competition
warrants the dismissal of her restraint-of-trade claim.

The Business Corporation Law does not address the ability of a New York corporation to
indemnify individuals who are not its employees.

The court examined a number of cases and stated that there appeared to be only a limited
number of instances in which there would exist a duty to disclose the illegal conduct of
persons who, through political campaigns, seek election to a public office.

6. Keep your average sentence length to about 20 words.

Break each of the following long sentences into at least three separate sentences:

Appellee Allied Indemnity of New York respectfully suggests that oral argument would
be of little benefit because the dispositive issue has been recently authoritatively decided
by the Texas Supreme Court in National Union Fire Insurance Co. v. CBI Industries, Inc.,
907 S.W.2d 517 (Tex. 1995), and by this Court in Constitution State Insurance Co. v. Iso-
Tex, Inc., 61 F.3d 405 (5th Cir. 1995), because the facts and legal arguments are
adequately presented in the briefs and record, and because the decisional process would
not be significantly aided by oral argument. [91 words]

Although no Kansas cases were found that explicitly hold that Kansas requires a
corporation to have a valid business purpose in order to engage in certain specified
corporate transactions, either for mergers or consolidations, or for a sale of assets
followed by a dissolution and liquidation, in a 1994 Supreme Court of Kansas case
involving a cash-out merger where the dissenters claimed the defendant's board of
directors breached its fiduciary duties to the dissenters, the court cited as one of the trial
court's pertinent conclusions of law that it is not necessary for a corporation to show a
valid corporate purpose for eliminating stockholders. [105 words]

The court of appeals noted that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had already issued
the applicant a National Pollution Elimination System permit for the actual discharge of
wastewater, which would occur from the outfall pipe, and that the issuance and conditions of
such permits were generally exempt under the Clean Water Act from compliance with the
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) requirement, and accordingly the court concluded that the
Corps had properly excluded the environmental implications of the discharges from the outfall
pipe from its analysis and instead considered only the construction and maintenance of the
pipeline itself in determining that the issuance of the permit did not constitute a major federal
action. [112 words]

7. Keep the subject, the verb, and the object together--toward the beginning of
the sentence.

Edit the following sentences to cure the separation of related words:

Ms. Lenderfield, during the course of her struggle to provide for her children as a single
parent, accrued considerable debt to her family and others. Chesapeake's assertion that it
is not a proper defendant in this case and, therefore, that relief cannot be granted is
incorrect.

The court, in finding that Officer McGee was acting more as a school employee than as a police
officer in searching Robinson, ruled that an official's primary role is not law enforcement.

8. Prefer the active voice over the passive.

Edit the following sentences to eliminate the passive voice:

Testimony was heard from the plaintiff and from three witnesses on behalf of the
corporation.

This is a purely legal question to be determined by the court.

McCormick's motion for partial summary judgment on the duty to defend should be
denied.

Plaintiff's opposition violates Rule 313 of the California Rules of Court and may be disregarded
by the court.
9. Use parallel phrasing for parallel ideas.

Revise the following sentences to cure the unparallel phrasing:

The court relied heavily on the district court's statement that the would-be intervenors
retained the right to appear through counsel, to participate in the fairness hearing, to
conduct discovery, and standing to appeal the court's approval or disapproval of the class-
action settlement.

Tenant will probably not be able to have the lease declared void and unenforceable for
vagueness because it contains all the essential elements of a lease: a description of the
premises, the amount of rent to be paid, the term of the lease, and identifies the parties.

The Younger doctrine also applies to a state civil proceeding that is (1) ongoing, (2) implicates
important state interests, and (3) affords an adequate opportunity to raise federal claims.

10. Avoid multiple negatives.

Exercises

Basic

Recast the following sentences in positive form:

Notice will not be effective unless it is delivered in person or by certified mail, return
receipt requested.

In the absence of any proof to the contrary, the court should presume that the
administrator's functions have not ceased.

No termination will be approved unless the administrator reviews the application and finds that it
is not lacking any requisite materials.

11. End sentences emphatically.

Exercises

Basic

Rewrite the following passages to make the sentence endings more emphatic:
This Court dismissed the whistleblower claims against the Governor on August 27 in
response to the Governor's Plea to the Jurisdiction.

The right to stop the work is the single most important factor in determining whether a
party is in charge of the work within the meaning of the Act.

The Commission is not in a position to provide additional affidavits and other evidence to
support its contention that Bulworth and Islington are an integrated enterprise at this time.

The court may authorize a preappearance interview between the interpreter and the party
or witness if it finds good cause.

Silver Sidings contends that it had no control over the hazardous substance released to create the
emergency, and that the Department of Natural Resources therefore has no jurisdiction over
Silver Sidings under the Spill Bill (see 260.510, RSMo 1994). In fact, Silver Sidings owned the
property where the release occurred, owned the underground storage tanks from which the
hazardous substance was released, permitted the hazardous substances to be stored in its tanks on
its property, and had every right as a landowner to control how its land and tanks were used--all
relevant factors under the Spill Bill. Thus, Silver Sidings is "a person having control over a
hazardous substance involved in a hazardous-substance emergency" within the meaning of the
Spill Bill.

12. Learn to detest simplifiable jargon.

Exercises

Basic

Translate the following passages into plain English:

A prehearing conference was held on July 15, 2000, and the result of said conference was
that Rawson was given an extension of time until August 6 to respond to Vicker's motion.
Rawson subsequently failed to file any response thereto.

In the event that any employee is requested to testify in any judicial or administrative
proceeding, said party will give the company prompt notice of such request in order that
the company may seek an appropriate protective order.

The court asks whether the plaintiff is guilty of unreasonable delay in asserting its rights.
Such determination is committed to the trial court's sound discretion. The emphasis is on
the reasonableness of the delay, not the length of such delay.

Subsequent to the Bank's dishonor and return of the forged check, the United States served the
aforementioned subpoena upon the Bank and directed the Bank to deliver to his office forthwith,
upon receipt, at any time and from time to time, any and all bank checks, cashier's checks, and
similar items stolen in the robbery that transpired on July 2, 2000.

13. Use strong, precise verbs. Minimize is, are, was, and were.

Exercises

Basic

Rewrite the following sentences to eliminate the be-verbs:

Jones is in agreement with Smith.

The professional fees in this project are entirely dependent upon the planning techniques
that the client is in favor of implementing.

The judge is of the opinion that it is within sound judicial discretion to determine
whether, once the claim is asserted, the crime-fraud exception is applicable.

Where there is no express agreement, it is ordinarily taken that the authority was to last for what
was a reasonable time in light of all the circumstances.

14. Turn -ion words into verbs when you can.

Exercises

Basic

Improve the following passages by changing all but one or two of the -ion words. Do any -ion
words need to stay?

An interested party may make an application for a modification or revocation of an


antidumping order (or termination of a suspension agreement) in conjunction with an
annual administrative review. A revocation application will normally receive no
consideration by the board unless there have been no sales at less than fair value for a
period of at least three consecutive years.

In analyzing the ADA claim, the court noted that the decedent's termination and the
reduction in AIDS benefits by the company occurred before the ADA became effective.
Plaintiff nonetheless made the allegation that maintaining the limitation on AIDS benefits
beyond the effective date of the ADA--in effect discrimination between plan members
with AIDS and members without AIDS--constituted a violation of the general rule of
Title I.
The determination that reasonable grounds exist for the revocation of parole should first be made
by someone directly involved in the case. Yet we need make no assumptions in arriving at the
conclusion that this preliminary evaluation, and any recommendations resulting therefrom,
should be in the hands of someone not directly involved.

15. Simplify wordy phrases. Watch out for of.

Exercises

Basic

Revise these sentences to minimize prepositions:

Jenkins knew of the existence of the access port of the computer.

This Court did not err in issuing its order of dismissal of the claims of Plaintiff.

Courts have identified a number of factors as relevant to a determination of whether the


defendant's use of another's registered trademark is likely to cause a state of confusion,
mistake, or deception.

One way in which a private party can act preemptively to protect the enforceability of the
rest of the provisions of a contract, in the face of one void provision, is to insert a
severability clause.

Any waiver of any of the provisions of this Agreement by any party shall be binding only if set
forth in an instrument signed on behalf of that party.

16. Avoid doublets and triplets.

Exercises

Basic

Edit the following sentences to eliminate the redundancies without changing the meaning:

Licensee will perform the work in compliance with all applicable laws, rules, statutes,
ordinances, and codes.

While the witness's truthfulness and veracity may be inquired into on cross-examination,
it cannot be further challenged by the introduction of extrinsic evidence relating to
matters not already in the record.
If the bailee fails, refrains, or refuses to perform any obligation under this agreement, the
bailor may, at its option, perform the obligation of the bailee and charge to, bill, or
otherwise recover from the bailee the cost of this performance.

Seller must cooperate with and assist Buyer in this process, without bearing the costs or expenses
associated therewith.

Make everything you write speakable.