Tanner Andrews mug

Tanner Andrews

I love work. I can watch it for hours. Longer, even, but always from a safe distance. Doing it is not quite so much fun.

I am not alone in this view. There are lots of lazy people out there. Most of us would prefer not to work. That is why they call it work, instead of, say, sitting at the bar drinking beer.

However, most jobs tend to require work. Few people can get paid for sitting and drinking. In the private sector, where I have been most of my life, employers expect us to actually do stuff.

One reason that public-sector jobs are popular is that they often require less, or no, work. Consider judges on the District Courts of Appeal. Their appointments are effective until retirement age. That was extended from 70 to 75 years as part of the recent round of constitutional revisions.

Like I said, in most lines of work, you have to actually do something. Their work is to produce explanations from reviewing trial court cases. The problem is, review involves work. So they have a legal shortcut, called a Per Curiam Affirmed, or “PCA.” That means that they do not bother reviewing and explaining whether the trial court erred.

Occasionally, I get to watch this in action. There was a case where instead of the required original, the bank only had a clearly marked copy of the note. The trial judge, formerly a bank lawyer, found the copy to be sufficiently original. The appeals panel should have laughed and sent it back to a new trial judge, or at least explained why not. Instead, they just did a PCA.

The advantage of such a thing is that appeals panels do a lot less work that way. Unfortunately, a PCA does not help lawyers in future cases decide if the requirement for an original note has been abolished. It also fails to inspire public confidence that the appeals courts are doing their jobs. As the judges age in place, and issue more PCAs, public confidence is unlikely to increase.

Back when I was in high school, teachers required students to show their work. Just writing the final number did not suffice. When we understand those teachers’ reasoning, it gives us insight into what District Courts of Appeal judges are thinking — it is hard to show your work when you are not actually doing much!

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.