#AppellateTwitter’s “cleaned up” craze hits Maryland

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

If you’re on Twitter, you may have come across the campaign by Jack Metzler (@SCOTUSplaces) to convince attorneys and judges to use a new parenthetical. Metzler has found remarkable success in a short time, and that success is now official in Maryland.[*]

Two reported opinions of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, released on Friday and Monday, included the parenthetical “(cleaned up)” at the end of a citation and dropped a footnote to explain this strange new creature. Though both opinions come out of the Court’s November 28 conference, Judge Friedman’s opinion in Na v. Gillespie beat Judge Nazarian’s opinion in Chassels v. Krepps to the printer.

Friday’s Na opinion included this footnote:

“Cleaned up” is a new parenthetical intended to simplify quotations from legal sources. See Jack Metzler, Cleaning Up Quotations, J. App. Prac. & Process (forthcoming 2018), https://perma.cc/JZR7-P85A. Use of (cleaned up) signals that to improve readability but without altering the substance of the quotation, the current author has removed extraneous, non-substantive clutter such as brackets, quotation marks, ellipses, footnote signals, internal citations or made un-bracketed changes to capitalization.

The footnote in today’s Chassels opinion was substantively the same but, apropos of “cleaned up,” made slightly different use of quotation marks and parentheses:

“Cleaned up” is a new parenthetical intended to simplify quotations from legal sources. See Jack Metzler, Cleaning Up Quotations, J. App. Prac. & Process (forthcoming 2018), https://perma.cc/JZR7-P85A. Use of “cleaned up” signals that the current author has sought to improve readability by removing extraneous, non-substantive clutter (such as brackets, quotation marks, ellipses, footnote signals, internal citations or made un-bracketed changes to capitalization) without altering the substance of the quotation.

Attorneys now have free rein to use “cleaned up” in Court of Special Appeals briefs. Six of the Court’s 15 active judges, including Chief Judge Woodward, either authored or signed onto either of the two opinions. All 15 judges were part of the vote to publish, with no recusals.

The #AppellateTwitter community, which includes Judge Nazarian (@dnazarian), does much to improve legal writing. I’m heartened to see a tangible impact in Maryland.


[*] Judge Friedman previously used “cleaned up,” without a footnote, in an unreported opinion. There was no explanatory footnote, however, and we’re generally not allowed to cite unreported Court of Special Appeals opinions.

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