August 10, 2017

Cooney on Passive Voice Phrasing, Linguistic Ambiguity. and the Board Game "Clue" @WMUCooleyLaw ‏

Mark Cooney, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, has published Give a Clue (A Linguistic Whodunit) at 96 Michigan Bar Journal 60 (June 2017). Here is the abstract.
This column cites and quotes a number of cases in which ambiguity caused by passive-voice phrasing determined the outcome or hindered a court's interpretation of a statute or pleading. The column presents this material within the context of a mock British murder mystery, complete with thinly veiled references to characters from the popular board game Clue. It's a short humor piece with a serious message to lawyers: passive voice is a substantive issue in the law, not merely a matter of style.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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