Monday, November 27, 2006

Questions presented: using "whether"

I had thought that the use of the word whether to begin an issue statement or question presented was dying out. I was wrong. According to research in an article by Brady Coleman and others, the trend from 1975 to 2002 is a 10% increase in the use of whether to begin a question presented in U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

Odd. I had hoped the trend was in the opposite direction. It should be.

Two thoughts:

Maybe the practice in state courts is different--not as stodgy and outdated--and the practice in the U.S. Supreme Court is behind the times.

The office of the solicitor general uses whether 94% of the time, so maybe that office is perpetuating this tired tradition.


Brady Coleman, et al, Grammatical and Structural Choices in Issue Framing: A Quantitative Analysis of "Questions Presented" from a Half Century of Supreme Court Briefs, Am. J. Trial. Adv. 329 (Fall 2005).

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