UC Law Journal


Humorous judicial opinions are curious legal creatures. Although they account for only a small percentage of all opinions, their existence is widely known in the legal community. From puns to poems, subtle wit to full-blown dementia, humorous opinions represent virtually every form and degree of comedic endeavor. Yet, it is easy to forget while reading a humorous opinion that real parties with genuine legal interests at stake were involved in the case. Despite the entertainment value of amusing opinions, one must question their propriety. This Note focuses on the controversial aspects of humorous judicial opinions, By examining a cross section of past and present judicial humor, the Note concludes that the number and audacity of humorous opinions has risen dramatically in the last twenty-five years. As a result, the number of opinions subjecting litigants to abusive ridicule also has increased. The Note reveals that there is no existing provision in the Code of Judicial Conduct, or any other body of law, to discourage this sort of litigant abuse. To fill this void, the Note proposes an amendment to the Code of Judicial Conduct that will catch the opinion most likely to abuse the parties to the case or undermine basic opinion utility, while preserving those opinions whose humor does not "hurt" anyone.

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