Just came across this delightful explanation of how an appellate court treats the facts when reviewing a grant of summary judgment:

We limn the facts in the light most hospitable to the summary judgment loser, consistent with the record support. In doing so, we ignore “conclusory allegations, improbable inferences, and unsupported speculation.”

Roche v. John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, 81 F.3d 249, 251 (1st Cir. 1996) (Selya, J.) (citations omitted).*

Any guesses how the “summary judgment loser” fared on appeal? Correct: “Descrying no error,” the First Circuit affirmed.

Now, I could probably do without the Middle English–surely, Roche marks the last time in the 20th Century that a native ‘Murkin speaker used the verb “to limn”–but this is a vivid, readable, and arrestingly unusual description of the appellate court’s job. It sure beats the dreck that I’ve been churning out: Because this case was decided on summary judgment, we recite the facts in the light most favorable to blah, blah, blah.

I gather that Judge Selya prides himself on this kind of writing, along with a vocabulary embiggened by perfectly cromulent words.


*Alert readers will note that Judge Selya’s actual description of the summary judgment standard comes a few pages later in the opinion; it’s a little dense for my tastes.