On Thursday the Mississippi Supreme Court decided a case that was a dispute over the near-sale of a planned law office building. Here is the opinion in Sweet v. TCI.
Anderson discussed the opinion here. The case turned on the issue of whether an affidavit was so conclusory as to be ineligible to support a motion for summary judgment. Amazingly, the following passage in Justice Dickinson’s dissent convinced only Justice Randolph to join the dissent:
The majority says TCI’s affidavit amounted to a conclusory, self-serving statement. A statement is conclusory if it “[e]xpress[es] a factual inference without stating the underlying facts on which the inference is based.” Paragraph 4 of Small’s affidavit reads “[TCI] attempted to obtain financing satisfactory to it from numerous financial institutions . . . [and was] unable to do so.” That is a statement of fact, not a conclusion. “Peas don’t taste good” is a conclusory statement. But “I have eaten peas and I don’t like peas” is a statement of fact. TCI’s sworn statement that it unsuccessfully had attempted to obtain satisfactory financing from numerous financial institutions is a statement of fact – uncontradicted in the record. Accordingly, I would affirm the chancellor.
My initial reaction was that this was one of the greatest pieces of legal writing in the history of American jurisprudence. But upon further reflection, I’ve decided that Justice Dickinson should have referred to corn or spinach instead of peas.