The word “appalling” is unnecessary because the egregiousness of the condemnee’s having to wait 10 years for a shot at justice is evident merely in the recital, without need of editorial gloss. The passage of time speaks for itself, and the point is made just as well without the word “appalling”:
Ten years after the taking, condemnee comes before the Appellate Division for the third time.
Some writers vigorously defend the use of “strong language,” deeming it a matter of taste and contending that those who shy from the practice are wimps. This view has some merit, but not much. Aggressive writing may intimidate a few adversaries, and more importantly, it may give some clients the sense that you are vigorously advocating their cause; however, experienced lawyers are not easily intimidated, and they frequently turn strong language back on the writer, portraying the writer, and, by dint of association, the writer’s client, as offensive rather than thoughtful or thorough.
Judges are largely unmoved by intensifiers. If the words are ad hominem attacks on the other side (e.g., contending that an argument is “disingenuous”), the court may deem it unseemly. If they are used to pump up your own argument (e.g., contending that your point is “clear” or that a delay was “appalling”), the court may be insulted because you deem it necessary to point out the obvious (e.g., that a 10-year odyssey in court is appalling). If the facts don’t speak for themselves, they probably aren’t good enough facts.
Though you may wish to express indignation if the other side is caustic, do not sink to their level. In the end, the best way to persuade the client that you are a dedicated and effective advocate is to prevail in court, and the best way to prevail in court is to make your point and back it up with authority.
Persons who use intensifiers are often trying to make up for a failure to highlight good facts. Consider the following first sentence in the preliminary statement to the aforesaid condemnee’s brief, where the condemnee argued that the trial court had undervalued the condemned property. Which version would you use, A or B?
A. Condemnee seeks a redetermination of fair market value based on the value that a hypothetical willing buyer would have paid for the property at the time of the taking.
B. Condemnee seeks a determination that a person buying into the Jersey City waterfront real estate boom in April 1986 would have seen the potential of this choice parcel and would have paid a premium for it.
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