In an opening brief to San Francisco’s 1st District Court of Appeal, a search-and-replace command by [Santa Cruz lawyer] Dudley inexplicably inserted the words “sea sponge” instead of the legal term “sua sponte,” which is Latin for “on its own motion.”
“Spell check did not have sua sponte in it,” said Dudley, who, not noticing the error, shipped the brief to court.
That left the justices reading — and probably laughing at — such classic statements as: “An appropriate instruction limiting the judge’s criminal liability in such a prosecution must be given sea sponge explaining that certain acts or omissions by themselves are not sufficient to support a conviction.”
And: “It is well settled that a trial court must instruct sea sponge on any defense, including a mistake of fact defense.”
The sneaky “sea sponge” popped up at least five times.
Dudley said he didn’t notice the mistake in People v. Danser, A107853, until his client — William Danser, a former Santa Clara County Superior Court judge seeking reversal of his conviction for fixing traffic tickets — called for an explanation.
Well, this is what you get when you (a) rely too heavily on a spelling checker, and (b) are a lawyer with a former judge as a client. He can fix spelling as well as he can “fix” traffic tickets, I suppose.
This little gem comes from law professor Glenn Reynolds (“Instapundit”), who introduces it by saying, “I frequently warn my students about overreliance on spellcheckers. Here’s a good object lesson.”
I think it’s time to reprise this famous poem:
Eye Halve a Spelling Chequer
Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a quay and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its really ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it’s weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.