Statutory Interpretation

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  1. Statute Plain Meaning

    Plain Meaning Fails 
    Plain Meaning: word definition and ordinary usage

    • Plain Meaning Unreliable: 
    • (1) Absurdity: plain meaning leads to an absurd result
    • (2) Ambiguity: plain meaning can be interpreted in two equally plausible ways 
    • (3) Scrivener's Error: obvious clerical error
  2. Textual Canon: Expressio Unis 
    Expressio Unis: including something means excluding the other
  3. Textual Cannon: Noscitur a sociss
    Noscitur a sociss: meaning of a word inferred by meaning of words associated with it
  4. Textual Canon: Ejusdem generis 

    Ejusdem generis: specific words in a series indicates class of items the statute applies to and general word extends statute to everything else in that class

    Yates (fish not included within other tangible object since not in class described)
  5. Textual Canon: The Rule Against Surplusage
    Rule against surplusage: must interpret statute to make all parts necessary
  6. Textual Canon: In Pari Material 
    • In pari material: 
    • (1) words in a section must be interpreted in light of entire statute 
    • (2) same word in related statues given same meaning
  7. Textual Canon: The Rule of the Last Antecedent 
    Rule of the Last Antecedent: A limiting clause or phrase modifies the noun or phrase it immediately follows
  8. Textual Canon: Provisos 
    Provisos: exceptions to a general rule should be narrowly construed
  9. Legislative History 
    Legislative Action: intent of legislature in enacting statute 

    Legislative Inaction: inaction provides meaning of intent
  10. Policy: Rule of Lenity 

    Requirement: rule of last resort after attempting to define meaning 

    • Rule of Lenity: ambiguous criminal statutes interpreted in narrower of two reasonable interpretations to provide notice of criminal conduct
    • Dauray (3 distinct sexual depictions of minors ambiguous since book can contain many & defendant had 3+ photos) 
  11. Policy: Mischief Rule


    Mischief Rule: statute interpreted in manner to promote the purpose of its enactment

    Muscarello (carry firearm read as carry in car to promote purpose of leaving gun at home)  

    Sherman (or read as and to promote purpose of truthful response under oath & narrow defense) 
  12. Policy: Derogation of Common Law & Remedial Statutes 
    Derogation of Common Law: statues against common law are narrowly interpreted 

    Remedial Statutes: statutes providing remedy are broadly interpreted
  13. Overriding Presumptions: Non-retroactive & repeals 

    Non-retroactive: law takes effect after enactment 

    Repeals: repealing a statute by implication is not favored without clear legislative intent

    Keeler (killing unborn viable fetus is excluded in murder statute and enlargement would deprive notice) 
Card Set:
Statutory Interpretation
2015-11-28 05:12:54

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