Bad Times Over a Judge’s Rhymes

From Associated Press

A state Supreme Court justice given to writing opinions in rhyme was criticized by two fellow justices who said his style reflected poorly on the court.

Seven stanzas from Justice J. Michael Eakin, and complaints about them from Chief Justice Stephen A. Zappala and Justice Ralph Cappy, appeared in a decision Wednesday involving a dispute concerning a prenuptial agreement.

Susan Porreco’s lawsuit claims the agreement she signed with Louis Porreco should have been voided because he allegedly misrepresented the engagement ring as a diamond.

In his opinion, Eakin wrote rhymes including:


“A groom must expect matrimonial pandemonium

when his spouse finds he’s given her a cubic zirconium

instead of a diamond in her engagement band,

the one he said was worth twenty-one grand.”

“The filing of an opinion that expresses itself in rhyme reflects poorly on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania,” Zappala wrote. “No matter addressed by this court is frivolous.”

Cappy wrote that judges have the right to express themselves, but expressed concern about “the perception that litigants and the public at large might form when an opinion of this Court is reduced to rhyme.”

Eakin, through his secretary, said Wednesday that it would be inappropriate to comment on what Zappala and Cappy wrote.

In Wednesday’s decision, the Supreme Court overruled a trial court that agreed with Susan Porreco that the prenuptial agreement was fraudulent. The high court sent the case back, saying Porreco could have had the ring appraised before signing the agreement.


Eakin was among the judges dissenting in the 4-2 decision.