Law: Punctuation

Before a Congressional Commission investigating land grants to the Northern Pacific R. R., one D. F. McGowan, attorney for the Forestry Service, declared that a comma in legal writing may mean as much money as a cipher on the left side of a decimal point.

Specifically, his point was that the omission of a comma in a long sentence in the Land Grant Act of 1870 enabled the Northern Pacific R. R. Co. to withhold land from settlers longer than had been intended by Congress. To support his argument, Mr. McGowan produced a letter giving a grammatical analysis of the disputed sentence,...

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