Sachs’ Atlantic Marine brief makes The Green Bag’s list of year’s best legal writing

December 27, 2013Duke Law News

Prof. Stephen Sachs

Professor Stephen Sachs’ amicus brief to the Supreme Court in Atlantic Marine Construction Co. v. U.S. District Court has made The Green Bag’s list of “Exemplary Legal Writing 2013.”

Sachs’ brief was honored in the “miscellany” category, along with Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.’s 2012 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, among others. His brief will appear in the publication’s 2014 Almanac & Reader, together with 20 other winning pieces. An advisory board of scholars, jurists, journalists, and practitioners selected the honorees for excellence in such categories as opinions, concurrences and dissents, news and editorials, and books.

The Green Bag is a quarterly legal journal, featuring what its website calls “short, readable, useful, and sometimes entertaining legal scholarship.”

“I always look forward to reading the Green Bag’s lists, and I’m very honored to be on one myself,” said Sachs. “I had hoped that the brief would be useful to someone, but I never expected it to get this kind of notice.”

Sachs is a scholar of civil procedure and conflict of laws who clerked for Roberts during the Court’s 2009-2010 term. His brief, which was filed in support of neither party, addressed a complex matter of civil procedure involving the enforcement of forum selection clauses in contracts. Sachs argued that both the petitioner, Atlantic Marine Construction Company, and the respondent, J-Crew Management, Inc., were presenting flawed arguments to the Court. “The parties in this case defend two sides of a many-sided circuit split,” he wrote. “This brief argues that a third view is correct.”

That view was prominently featured during Oct. 9 oral argument in Atlantic Marine, thanks to an unusual order by the justices instructing the parties to address Sachs’ arguments. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. also discussed the brief in his opinion in the case, issued on Nov. 28 on behalf of a unanimous Court. While he declined to apply Sachs’ argument in the case at hand, because the parties had not filed the necessary motion, he expressly left open the possibility that it was correct.

Sachs shares The Green Bag honor with Jeffrey S. Bucholtz and Daniel S. Epps, of King & Spalding in Washington, D.C. Bucholtz was listed as counsel of record on the brief.

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