Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Plainer jury instructions

I've been hired as the plain-language drafter for the Texas Pattern Jury Charges Plain Language Task Force. I am starting by revising the admonitory instructions. It's interesting.

I am using a more conversational tone, adding previews and lead-ins, simplifying the language, and re-ordering for logic and flow.

But I'm dreading the job of working on the negligence charges. Doctrinal faculty here at Texas are telling me about all sorts of substantive problems in the charges for negligence and other torts.

I can't do much about that. If we're going to make significant substantive changes to the charges, we'll need substantive experts--lots of them--because the charges cover every legal issue that arises in lawsuits.

For now, all I'm doing is revising the existing charges into plain English--to the extent I can.

Wish me luck.

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