Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Magic of Law Writing

The Law Writer takes raw materials (consisting of the ideas of others), then applies law writing skills to materialize that idea into law. Sometimes, the process is almost magical.

The first audience for a piece of law writing is the bill sponsor. If the Law Writer's draft bill is satisfactory to the sponsoring lawmaker, the next audience is the legislature. If the legislature approves the bill, and the governor does not veto it (if applicable), then the bill becomes law.

The audience for the enacted law includes the people (the most important audience), the executive branch (which must execute the law) and the judicial branch (which must interpret the law, if necessary.)

Thus, the Law Writer's constant aim is to write statutes so that the words and directives in the law have plain and straightforward meanings, giving the law clarity and effect.

The Law Writer is always aware that statutory interpretation begins with the text. As explained by Justice Corrigan of the Michigan Supreme Court: ". . . when the words of a statute are unambiguous, the task [of interpretation] should end there -- if the legislature has clearly spoken, nothing is left to construe."
{Quote with emphasis included from: Maura D. Corrigan & J. Michael Thomas, "Dice Loading" Rules of Statutory Interpretation, NYU Annual Survey of American Law 2003, Vol. 59:231, 233.}

Chapter 120 of the North Carolina General Statutes defines the requirements surrounding coded bill drafting, which is the official formatting scheme of underlinings and strike-throughs used in the NCGA electronic bill drafting/information system to create, repeal, or modify laws in North Carolina. Chapter 12 of the General Statutes covers statutory construction, working in combination with common law and case law.

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