Jones v. State is typical of recent state and federal court decisions that have spiced substantive or procedural points with references to classic children’s stories or classic fairy tales. These literary resources have won places in American popular culture and are likely generally familiar to readers, especially when (as in Jones) the court provides any necessary context explaining the resource’s relevance to the decision.
In previous Journal of The Missouri Bar articles, I have written about judges’ invocation of an array of influential cultural markers that are generally familiar to Americans. These articles explored written opinions that accompanied substantive or procedural decision-making with references to baseball; football; other prominent sports such as basketball, golf, and hockey; classic television shows; or classic movies.
This article continues the exploration, with a turn toward popular literature, classic children’s stories, and classic fairy tales. The article reiterates the earlier articles’ conclusion: “[A]dvocates should feel comfortable following the courts’ lead by carefully referencing [cultural markers] to help sharpen substantive and procedural arguments in the filings they submit.”
Douglas E. Abrams,
References to Children's Stories and Fairy Tales in Judicial Opinions and Written Advocacy, 76 Journal of the Missouri Bar 212
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/facpubs/993