Judge Carnes, Storyteller.

I think Judge Carnes has really raised the level in terms of how to write clean, simple, narrative-driven appellate opinions.

His last few all bear the hallmarks of fine storytelling -- a powerful introduction, a strong hook, a sense of leaving the reader wanting more, and a matter-of-fact exposition that flows cohesively from beginning to end.

Consider the opening three paragraphs of this illegal-immigrants-serving-rich-people-fancy-steak tale:
Ruth’s Hospitality Group, the parent company of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, is proud of its origins. The company boasts that forty-five years after its founder, Ruth Fertel, mortgaged her home to purchase her first restaurant, it has grown into a chain of more than 120 steakhouse restaurants in seven countries. Though it has become an international operation, the company insists that “our success continues to be driven by our adherence to Ruth’s core values.” Ruth Fertel 1 “understood the value of each and every employee’s contribution to her success,” and that is why the business continues to be a place “where respect, integrity and pride are a way of life.”2 Not only that but the company “continues to value the unique differences of each and every team member.”3 Or so it says.

The seven former employees of one Ruth’s Chris Steak House franchise who are the plaintiffs in this lawsuit not only beg to differ but also have pleaded to the contrary, at least insofar as the franchise where they worked is concerned. According to their allegations, that particular franchise had the core values of a criminal enterprise and provided anything but an atmosphere of respect, integrity, and pride for its employees. More specifically, they allege that the Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Birmingham, Alabama, knowingly provided illegal aliens with names and social security numbers of American citizens to use for illegal employment, unlawfully took employees’ tips, discriminated on the basis of race, and retaliated against employees who challenged those and other practices.

Those allegations are contained in an amended complaint that asserts claims based on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and Alabama common law. The district court dismissed four of the fifteen counts in the amended complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and certified those rulings as partial final judgments under Rule 54(b). The plaintiffs have appealed those four rulings, and they have attempted to appeal a number of others that were not certified for interlocutory appeal. Our decision, like the complaint and the district court’s judgment, is a mixed bag. We end up reversing the district court’s judgment with respect to the RICO claim, affirming the judgment insofar as it includes the other claims that were certified to us under Rule 54(b), and dismissing for lack of jurisdiction the attempted appeal of the rulings that were not certified to us.
The Judge also employs a continuing "meat" metaphor throughout the Court's RICO discussion that -- ok it's a bit odd -- but maybe that's why it worked for me.

Of course then Judge Carnes goes on to cite Iqbal and that kind of ruined it for us, but he definitely had us going there for a good while.


  1. Is Marco Rubio smoking some of Bo's dope?

    "Charlie Crist’s liberal appointments to Florida’s judiciary demonstrate a flawed perspective on the judiciary, while his recent position on Justice Sotomayor’s nomination showed his inconsistency in standing up for constitutional rights."


  2. Where's swlip when you really need him?

  3. two words:

    Steely Dan

  4. 2:05-- Better suited song for this post.

  5. And they wandered in
    From the city of St. John
    Without a dime
    Wearing coats that shined
    Both red and green
    Colors from their sunny island
    From their boats of iron
    They looked upon the promised land
    Where surely life was sweet
    On the rising tide
    To New York City
    Did they ride into the street
    See the glory
    Of the royal scam

    They are hounded down
    To the bottom of a bad town
    Amid the ruins
    Where they learn to fear
    An angry race of fallen kings
    Their dark companions
    While the memory of
    Their southern sky was clouded by
    A savage winter
    Every patron saint
    Hung on the wall, shared the room
    With twenty sinners

    See the glory
    Of the royal scam

    By the blackened wall
    He does it all
    He thinks he's died and gone to heaven
    Now the tale is told
    By the old man back home
    He reads the letter
    How they are paid in gold
    Just to babble in the back room
    All night and waste their time
    And they wandered in
    From the city of St. John without a dime

    See the glory
    Of the royal scam

  6. I thought of it, but couldn't find any decent live youtube footage.

    This is the best I could come up with -- don't say I never listen!

  7. Bob Dylan, John Wesley Harding

  8. Go back to Zep.

  9. It's Rolling, BobApril 9, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    I pity the poor immigrant
    Who wishes he would’ve stayed home,
    Who uses all his power to do evil
    But in the end is always left so alone.
    That man whom with his fingers cheats
    And who lies with ev’ry breath,
    Who passionately hates his life
    And likewise, fears his death.

    I pity the poor immigrant
    Whose strength is spent in vain,
    Whose heaven is like Ironsides,
    Whose tears are like rain,
    Who eats but is not satisfied,
    Who hears but does not see,
    Who falls in love with wealth itself
    And turns his back on me.

    I pity the poor immigrant
    Who tramples through the mud,
    Who fills his mouth with laughing
    And who builds his town with blood,
    Whose visions in the final end
    Must shatter like the glass.
    I pity the poor immigrant
    When his gladness comes to pass.

  10. SFL posted a song with no hidden metaphors. A straight song about immigrants

    Shoot half the fun is analyzing the song.

  11. Harbours opened their arms to the young searching foreigner
    Come to live in the light of the beacon of liberty
    Planes and open skies, billboards would advertise
    Was it anything like that when you arrived
    Dreamboats carry the future to the heart of America
    People were waiting in line for a place by the river
    It was a time when strangers were welcome here
    Music would play, they tell me the days were sweet and clear
    It was a sweeter tune and there was so much room that people could come from everywhere
    Now he arrives with his hopes and his heart set on miracles
    Come to marry his fortune with a hand full of promises
    to find they've closed the door, they don't want him anymore
    isn't anymore to go around
    Turning away he remembers he once heard
    a legend that spoke of a mystical magical land called America
    There was a time when strangers were welcome here
    Music would play, they tell me the days were sweet and clear
    It was a sweeter tune and there was so much room that people could come from everywhere
    There was a time when strangers were welcome here
    Music would play, they tell me the days were sweet and clear
    There was a time when strangers were welcome here
    Music would play, they tell me the days were sweet and clear

  12. Ahahhhhhh

    We come from the land of the ice and snow.....

    SFL had it right the first time.

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  14. So, I don't actually suppose this may have success.
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