Friday, February 24, 2023


By Tim Rohr

In the previous post, I praised Atty. Pauluhn for "doing his job," i.e. defending a Guam law relative to an abortion matter before the Ninth Circuit. 

I don't know enough about standards of review and that sort of thing to know if Mr. Pauluhn argued effectively to the satisfaction of the Court. It was just nice to see someone professionally argue the law and not the issue.

In this regard, Mr. Pauluhn's argument stood out in clear contrast to his adversary, the ACLU lawyer, who appeared wholly ideologically motivated. But then that's what the ACLU is. 

There is one thing though that bothers me and I'm not sure why lawyers say this, and both lawyers said this when arguing before the judges and that's: "I think..." 

Several times both attorneys, in responding to a question from the Court, began with "I think..." 

When listening to the rest of the answer that began with "I think..." it is clear that the answer could have stood on its own without the preface of "I think..."

"I think..." moves what follows from what may well be a fact down to the level of a personal opinion. 

My gut reaction to a lawyer saying "I think" is "I don't care what you think." I want to know what the law says, or at least the position you are arguing."

In other words, "opining" is something the Court does, not the advocates. 

Thus, "I think..." that even if one is unsure of the answer, "I think..." it's better to just give the answer without prefacing it with "I think..." 

It just sounds better. 

I also hear this "I think..." from the pulpit quite a bit, when there's usually no reason for it. It would be much better to say "the Catholic Church teaches in Paragraph 2734 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that ... " (or whatever document or source can be referenced. In fact, some of the most compelling preachers consistently reference what the saints have said.)

If asked what I think about something, my favorite way to answer is to answer without saying "I think," and then end with "what do you think?"

By the way, here's a little help if you must say "I think."

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