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Rave Reviews for McGuireWoods’ Supreme Court Cert Petition

March 22, 2018

McGuireWoods Richmond partner Matt Fitzgerald is reaping rave reviews for his U.S. Supreme Court certiorari petition in Collins v. VirginiaCollins, a significant Fourth Amendment case, now awaits decision by the Supreme Court.

The Collins cert petition, drafted by Fitzgerald and associate Travis Gunn, was rated the best-written among all granted petitions in 2017.  The rating came from a computer analysis performed by Dr. Adam Feldman, creator of the highly regarded Supreme Court blog Empirical SCOTUS.

Dr. Feldman ran the petitions through BriefCatch, an online legal document editing tool that analyzes writing on metrics such as sentence length, smooth transitions, the preference for plain English over legalese and jargon, and a “Reading Happiness Index.”

The Collins petition scored at or near the top in each subcategory tested.  This prompted Dr. Feldman to note in his March 14 blog post, “BriefCatching 2017 Cert Filings,” that well-crafted and readable briefs are not the sole province of veteran Supreme Court lawyers. He cited Fitzgerald as an example.

“Matthew Fitzgerald, who scored second highest on plain English, has the top score for Reading Happiness based on his cert petition in Collins v. Virginia,” Dr. Feldman noted.  The post went on to note that the Collins petition was the top scorer in a combined analysis of five metrics, receiving 98 of 100 possible points.