The Court of Appeals in Washington state recently reversed a conviction because the state prosecutor invoked racist rhetoric at trial. State v. McKenzie, No. 38555-8-III (Wash. Ct. App. Apr. 21, 2022).
The opinion’s misconduct analysis is powerful and worth the read. It’s also nice to see the state judiciary’s ongoing commitment in this area. If you missed or forgot about the Washington Supreme Court’s signed, June 4, 2020 open letter to the judiciary and legal community about the ongoing injustices faced by Black Americans, here is your link.
How the Court of Appeals masterfully incorporated emojis into its recent written opinion (on pages 3-4 where highlighted) also caught my eye.
The court’s released .pdf opinion includes the actual emojis in the text.
The bigger-picture problem, however, is that embedded images are not carried over to the text-only versions republished by other digital research sources. Here is one example. Notice how the emoji images are replaced with “(Image Omitted)” references.
The Washington Court of Appeals anticipated and overcame this by adding in-text and written footnote descriptions for each included emoji.
Using this multi-layer writing approach, the court has ensured that—no matter the information source—reading audiences will understand what the emojis were.
This is an effective practice that every advocate and opinion-writing jurist should mirror.