Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Issue statements: the "whether" style

In the “whether” style, you state the legal question in a single sentence beginning with the word “whether.” This approach is traditional—some might say archaic—but still common today. It looks like this:
Whether prosecutor Mark Rencher, who was asked by police to lie to a dangerous fugitive, where the fugitive was holding hostages, and where Rencher told the fugitive that he was a public defender and talked the fugitive into surrendering without harming the hostages, should be disciplined by the Illinois State Bar?
The “whether” style has two drawbacks. It is not a grammatical sentence (it lacks the phrase “The question is whether . . .”). And it produces long, complicated sentences.

Because of the drawbacks, lawyers using the "whether" style would have a hard time justifying it except on the basis that it is a tradition. I think it is a poor way to write issue statements.

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