Halfway through my clerkship with the Chief Justice, I committed a significant blunder. In an opinion for the Court authored by the Chief and for which I had prepared a draft of the section on procedural history, I had made an error. In describing the lower court's holding (on a matter not at issue when it arrived at the Court), I had described the appellate court as having reversed, when, in fact, it had affirmed the trial court. Because that portion of the procedural history was not significant to the Court's judgment, that portion of the draft opinion received little attention in the subsequent vetting within the Chief's chambers or, I imagine, in any of the other chambers. Thus, the opinion issued with the mistake incorporated, including directions for a remand back to the appellate court for further proceedings. While the error in the procedural history did not matter to the issue the Court was deciding, it was of real concern to the litigants, who feared that the remaining proceedings below could be prejudiced by the error in the Court's description. Thus, they filed a motion for rehearing...

 

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