February 15, 2010

Student editors need a law dictionary

"Supreme Court Justice cleared to hear case; conflict of interest claim dismissed," according to the Badger Herald.

Not true. The "claim" in this instance was presented in the form of a written motion requesting that one justice be disqualified from hearing the merits (the substance of the legal arguments) of a criminal appeal, State v. Allen, that the motion is related to.

Motions generally end up being either granted or denied. Here, the result was neither: by effect of the 3-3 split on the court, the motion was not granted, but nor was it denied. Because the motion was not granted, the judge at whom it was directed may presumably participate in deciding the merits of State v. Allen.

The motion was certainly not dismissed.

Most importantly, to announce that this motion was "dismissed" is not only wrong, the announcement also conveys an unwarranted negative statement about the motion's own merits or worse, that the motion contained a fatal procedural defect, such as having been filed after a court-imposed or statutory deadline.

Otherwise Amelia Vorpahl's report is accurate enough,* but the headline is brutal. She needs to file a motion against her editor.

* With this exception: "Gableman was accused of lying in several of his campaign ads regarding Butler’s role in defending a sex offender." It was one individual campaign ad, which ran many times.


Anonymous said...

How about the author referring to the justice "residing" over a case? I can forgive an undergrad for not understanding the procedural nuances of the court, but that's just ridiculous.

illusory tenant said...

At least the meaning of that (possible typo) was clear enough. (I see they've since deleted everything beyond and including the semicolon in the headline: Jack Craver is a powerful media force.)