Published on: Thursday, June 29, 2023

"Basic grammar tells us what the sentence means." When a court starts an analysis like that, you can bet not everyone will agree on the basic grammar. Just like in this Eighth Circuit (2-1) case about whether a guy in prison "directed violence" upon another guy—who sold drugs for the guy in prison—by passing the latter's address to some unsavory characters and followed up with a text stating "am about to [tell] them that [you] don't want to pay and . . . whatever they do after that is on you." Concurrence: Basic grammar moves me to say that instead of directing violence he made a credible threat to use violence, which is also a no-no in the same sentence. Dissent: Basic grammar demonstrates you're both wrong.

The case is United States v. Hernandez-Barajas, 21-3763 (8th Cir. June 28, 2023).