Legal, Legislative, and Rule Drafting in Plain English – New Book at ACLL Oakland

The 2015 legislative session in Sacramento may have ended but there is another much briefer season here in California when laws can be made using a different process.

Next Tuesday, voters across the state will be making decisions on ballot initiatives.  Alameda County is not holding an election this November but San Francisco County has eleven measures on the local November 3 ballot.  Some – such as Measure FShort-Term Residential Rentals – are making the news not only for the subject but also for the campaign strategies of the opponents.

According to Ballotpedia, November 3 is the biggest election date in 2015 for local ballot measure elections in California.  Voters in California will decide 61 local measures.

Source: The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

California has a strong history of the direct democracy process.  These rules govern our daily lives with the same weight as any passed in Sacramento.  Proponents – either citizens, government officials, public interest groups or their lawyers –  and not professional legislators draft the text for these measures.  What are the best methods for writing ballot measures (or other legislation) to  insure that their effect on society will be what was intended by the proponents and the voters?   Alameda County Law Library has a resource to answer this question.

Robert J. Martineau and Michael B. Salerno are authors of Legal, Legislative, and Rule Drafting in Plain English.  Mr. Salerno served as a consultant to both houses of the California Legislature and as a principal deputy in the California Legislative Counsel Bureau.  He currently supervises a legislation clinic for the UC Hastings College of Law.

This reference manual is for anyone who does any type of legal drafting, both lawyers and non-lawyers.  The book specifies drafting principles and provides examples.  The relationship between style and substance is stressed in the text.

There is a section that focuses on the pre-drafting stage.  The discussion includes advice on the organizational process needed to consider the true wants of the proponent and how best to translate those desires into a legal document.

The authors state is their “Foreword” – “The goal of legal drafting is not to entertain but to inform in a precise manner easily understood in the same way by all those who read the text.”

For more information on the history of California initiatives see:  A History of California Initiatives: 1912 through January 2015

Legal, Legislative, and Rule Drafting in Plain English, currently on the New Book cart, will be shelved in the Oakland library at  KF/250/.M265/2005.



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