Re: memetic error (?)

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Thu 12 Dec 2002 - 23:27:57 GMT

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    Let me just add a bit: Legal citation is fundamentally different from scientific citation because of its adversarial nature. Scientists don't get paid to attack each other's work. They make progress when they can build on it. As a result they don't need to scrutinize every word as closely.

    Ray Recchia

    >The same can happen with respect to court judgements and legislation.
    >In effect, the primary texts become secondary, superseded by a more
    >collective text of prevailing opinion and thinking. There's a folk
    >saying attributed to the American bar, that when really pressed, as a
    >last resort, judges have actually been known the read the statute they
    >are supposed to be applying. This is a bit tongue-in-cheek, and far
    >from true, but makes a point.
    >I don't know about that. The adversarial nature of the court system tends
    >to inhibit misquoting. The first thing I do when responding to legal
    >briefs is to print out every case cited by my opponent to see if there are
    >any ways to distinguish my case. Dating back to decades before on line
    >legal research, lawyers have had elaborate systems for finding the
    >law. Judges tend to rely on what is in the briefs, but they have busy
    >agendas and assume that adversaries will pick out the main points.
    >Also, very little of what goes into a legal brief or court decision will
    >come from non-legal secondary sources. It isn't the law, so it isn't
    >given much weight.
    >Ray Recchia

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