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State Bar gives awards for 'Legaldegook'

AUSTIN, Texas -- The State Bar of Texas holds its annual meeting in Houston this month and plans to offer awards for poor legal writing.

The awards are designed to inspire lawyers, judges and lawmakers to use plain English and not 'legaldegook,' said Bryan Garner, a Dallas lawyer who chairs the bar's Plain Language Committee and who will present the awards June 21.

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'We decided to bestow the awards for conspicuously bad examples, to draw attention to some of the horrific writing that modern lawyers perpetrate,' Garner said.

The winner of the 'What-Language-Is-This Award' is a passage of the Code of Federal Regulations that says:

'No savings and loan holding company, directly or indirectly, or through one or more transactions, shall ... acquire control of an uninsured institution or retain, for more than one year after other than an insured institution or holding company thereof, the date any insured institution subsidiary becomes uninsured, control of such institution.'

Garner said the committee received 20 entries for the eight awards.

'It's all in fun. We don't want to hold anyone up to ridicule,' Garner said, 'but we want to ridicule certain types of writing.'

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The winner of the Woolliness Award for fuzzy wording goes to this passage in the Internal Revenue Code -- 'For purposes of paragraph (3) an organization described in paragraph (2) shall be deemed to include an organization described in section 510(c)(4), (5), or (6) which would be described in paragraph (2) if it were an organization described in section 501(c)(3).'

Rounding out the winners is the Typo Graphic Award for an error found in an appellate brief to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that said, 'In the index to this brief, the court will find an extensive copulation of authorities on the subject.'

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