This article continues the theme of recent “Writing It Right” articles in the Journal of the Missouri Bar. These articles describe how federal and state judges today frequently accent their opinions’ substantive or procedural rulings with references to cultural markers that can resonate with the advocates, parties, and judges who comprise the opinions’ readership. The courts’ broad array of cultural references demonstrates versatility. Some of my early articles in the Journal profiled judicial opinions that referenced terminologies, rules, and traditions of baseball, football, and other sports. Together these sports’ mass audiences help define American culture.
Later my Journal articles profiled judicial references to classic television shows and movies that have held Americans’ attention for decades. Most recently, I turned along a literary path by profiling judicial references to well-known children’s stories, fairy tales, and Aesop’s Fables. This article continues along the literary path by turning to recent federal and state judicial opinions that reference plays of Shakespeare (1564-1614). Nearly 40 plays carry his authorship, and they still command attention in the United States and around the world centuries after their appearance. Many of the plays’ most famous quotes or phrases (such as the ones invoked in Sigma) remain familiar to many Americans, including advocates, parties, and judges.
Douglas E. Abrams,
Shakespeare in the Courts, 77 Journal of the Missouri Bar 132
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/facpubs/997