“Confusion Flakes” Cited As Grounds for Reversal

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Here's something I came across the other day while doing some research.  After he was found liable for fraud, among other things, John Ryan appealed but presented little in the way of legal arguments or authority in his appellate briefing.  Instead, the briefs were written in what the Court of Appeal described as "overblown" language that tended to resemble "poor melodrama."  For example, the court cited this gem as to Ryan's argument that he was denied a fair trial because the jury was confused by the instructions and verdict forms:

Snow-globeRyan's entire argument in support of the proposition that the jurors were confused is as follows:

"If page 2269 of the reporter's transcript is held face down and shaken, thoursands of confusion flakes will drift to the ground like snowflakes falling on a snowy winter's day.  That one page alone shows without doubt that the jury, by its own admissions, was extremely confused . . . ."

The court did not think the instructions were very good, but found no basis for concluding that they were so confusing as to generate thousands of confusion flakes drifting to the ground like snowflakes falling on a snowy winter's day.  And, despite some evidence Ryan appealed only for purposes of delay, the court refused to sanction him, saying that at least "some substance lurked beneath the overblown verbiage."

Cite: Ciolino v. Ryan, 2005 WL 2065302 (Cal. App. 1 Dist.  Aug. 29, 2005) (unpublished decision).