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On Law.com Illinois Appellate Court Justice David Ellis offers What Judges Can Learn From Fiction Writers — Ellis, who has written 18 crime fiction novels, talks about how judges can use storytelling techniques to enhance their opinion writing.
- Using storytelling techniques in judicial writing can help citizens, journalists, lawyers and other judges more easily understand the legal basis for a court’s ruling, Ellis said.
- All legal opinions have a plot, he said–the facts of the case at hand, underlying questions that are being raised, and the court’s reasoning for its decision. To keep the reader’s attention, Ellis said judges should only include the facts and procedural history necessary for explaining the ruling.
- Ellis prefers concise transition words over longer ones, like using “and,” “but,” and “so” in place of “furthermore,” “however,” and “accordingly.” Instead of using footnotes–which he said draws readers’ eyes away from the main text and kills the flow of the story–Ellis opts for parentheticals to convey extra tidbits of information or caveats.