Vary the length of your paragraphs, but generally keep them short.
published legal writing, find a three- or four-page example of nicely varied
paragraph lengths. Identify something specific that you like about the passage.
If you belong to a writing group or class, bring a copy for each colleague and
be prepared to discuss your example.
down each of the following passages so that it contains three to five separate
paragraphs. Find the best places for starting new paragraphs.
- When the courts of equity created the equity of
redemption, they ignored the parties' explicit intention. They allowed the
mortgagor to regain the property by performing the secured obligation after the
legal title to the property had vested absolutely in the mortgagee. This
vesting took place according to both the parties' express language in the
mortgage deed and the effect that the law courts gave the language. After their
original intervention, equity courts developed the doctrine prohibiting the
clogging of the mortgagor's equity of redemption. Under this doctrine, even
though the mortgage is in default, no agreement contained in the mortgage can
cut off a recalcitrant mortgagor's equity of redemption without the resort to
foreclosure by the mortgagee. Courts won't enforce a mortgagee's attempts to
have the mortgagor waive the right to be foreclosed in the event of a default.
The prohibition against clogging has been characterized by a variety of labels.
The most common characterization associated with the doctrine in the United
States is "once a mortgage, always a mortgage." This is only another way of
saying that a mortgage can't be made irredeemable. The clogging doctrine, as a
corollary of the equity of redemption, prevented evasion by ingenious and
determined mortgagees. These mortgagees had tried using many types of clauses that,
while recognizing the existence of the equity of redemption, nullified or
restricted its practical operation.
- Before an intelligent study of criminal law can be undertaken, it is
necessary to focus on the single characteristic that differentiates it from
civil law. This characteristic is punishment. Generally, in a civil suit, the
basic questions are (1) how much, if at all, defendant has injured plaintiff,
and (2) what remedy or remedies, if any, are appropriate to compensate
plaintiff for his loss. In a criminal case, on the other hand, the questions
are (1) to what extent, if at all, defendant has injured society, and (2) what
sentence, if any, is necessary to punish defendant for his transgressions.
Since the criminal law seeks to punish rather than to compensate, there should
be something about each course of conduct defined as criminal that renders mere
compensation to the victim inadequate. This follows from the truism that no
human being should be made to suffer if such suffering cannot be justified by a
concomitant gain to society. No rational assessment of the kinds of activity
that should be punished can be undertaken without some analysis of the purposes
of punishment. Those purposes most frequently mentioned are reformation,
restraint, retribution, and deterrence.
- Declaratory remedies furnish an authoritative and reliable statement
of the parties' rights. Other remedies may be added if necessary, but the
declaratory remedy itself makes no award of damages, restitution, or
injunction. The chief problem in obtaining declaratory relief lies in the rules
of justiciability--rules that courts will not issue advisory opinions, decide
moot cases or those that are not ripe, or deal in any dispute that does not
count as a case or controversy. Although people might settle legal arguments
between themselves by going to the law library or calling the librarian, they
cannot call on the courts this way. These concerns grow out of procedural and
process values. They involve what we think about the nature of courts and
judicial work. Before declaratory-judgment statutes were enacted, plaintiffs
obtained relief that was sometimes essentially declaratory by suing for
injunctive relief, or to quiet title to land, or to rescind a contract. When
the declaratory judgment performs an analogous function, the case is
justiciable and such relief is appropriate. Yet it is not possible to describe
adequately all the instances in which these concerns will prevent declaratory
relief. Declaratory relief is often useful in contract disputes. A good example
is the dispute over liability-insurance coverage. The insured tortfeasor, the
insurer, and the injured victim all need to know whether insurance covers the
claim. When the insurer insists that it does not cover the claim and the others
insist that it does, declaratory judgment is a good
published legal writing, find an example of grossly overlong paragraphs.
Suggest the natural points for additional paragraph breaks. If you belong to a
writing group or class, bring a copy with your paragraph markings for each
- Exercise -
© 2001, Bryan A. Garner
These exercises appear in Bryan A. Garner's Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with
Exercises, published by The University of Chicago Press and available at bookstores and
on the Web at www.press.uchicago.edu.