Legal, Laws, and Regs

Dry wit among the legalese

I have mentioned, at least once or twice, that legal documents aren’t as dry and obtuse as many people think they are. Indeed, some court decisions display a dry wit that can put any nonfiction best seller to shame.

Take a recent decision by the DC Appeals court in the case Conservation Force, Inc. et al v. Sally Jewel et al. A group of people, wanting to enable rich sportsmen to bring home their trophy kills of the straight-horned markhor, sued the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) because it did not respond in a timely manner to a petition to reclassify the endangered markhor as threatened (allowing said rich sportsmen to bring home their trophies, among other things). The court dismissed the claim because it was time-barred. The petitioners promptly filed an appeal.

The DC Appeals court dismissed the complaint because it’s no longer moot—while the case was ongoing, FWS did reclassify the markhor as threatened rather than endangered, so the original claims of injury are no longer relevant.

This case is just one of many challenging endangered status for any number of animals, in this country and out, and as such is of concern to those of us who see such actions as part of an overall campaign to weaken the Endangered Species Act. But it is the wording of the decision that really makes it stand out.

I don’t want to give away the fun bits. Download the decision by Chief Judge Garland, and read at least the first page of the decision (page 2 in the document). Pay particular attention to the first footnote.

And if you’re concerned about the Endangered Species Act, take the time to read the rest of the document.

(h/t to David Ingram)

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