Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels (both names appear to be highly fictionalized, so take your choice) is suing Trump to have a court declare the invalidity of a “settlement agreement” mandating her silence about something not addressed in the agreement.

But we know! The two of them are said to have done the beast with two backs and Stormy was paid $ 130,000 to shut up about it just before Election Day 2016. And forever after, if Trump Counselor Cohen had his way. The money was paid by Counselor Cohen from his heavily shaken personal piggy bank, all on his own, it is averred.

Whether legally valid or not, the agreement’s stunning avoidance of plain English ought to earn the draftsman a place in lawyer-infamy.

The “plain English” movement’s guiding light was Prof. Fred Rodell of Yale Law School. He said there “are two things wrong with almost all legal writing. One is its style. The other is its content. That, I think, about covers the ground.”

Rodell also said, “almost all legal sentences…have a way of reading as though they have been translated from the German by someone with a rather meager knowledge of English.”

I have read the agreement. After applying Purell to my hands, feet and ears in reaction to its unmentioned prurient purpose, I now know why no one ever holds a door for a lawyer.

It is world-class gibberish. The plain English movement, now codified in statute in most states, was designed to stop onerous terms hidden in legalese in consumer contracts. The agreement reads like an old form of refrigerator purchase agreement foisted on helpless buyers.

The “settlement agreement,” among a pseudonymed Stormy, Trump and an LLC, forbids any of the parties from saying anything about anything that may have happened (but didn’t) between Stormy and Trump. It also directs Stormy to transfer any documents about whatever-it-is (including “images”) and their respective copyrights to Trump. (Frankly, it looks like a form that has been used before.)

In the event of a dispute or an alleged violation, the injured party can go for arbitration before named alternate dispute resolution (ADR) companies or before a court. If any party thinks that another is going to breach, the aggrieved party can get a “temporary restraining order” from a toy judge at the ADR without notice to the party proposing to breach.

That’s what happened to Stormy at the end of February. The Trump forces went to the ADR company, paid the fee, got an arbitrator assigned, and got an order that reads like it’s ending a strike by the steel unions and written by Chief Justice John Marshall in 1803. No, no, Stormy, thou shalt not speak of this, as hath been shewn in the writ!

Stormy found out about the ban from the media. Her lawsuit followed. She’s in a bit of a pickle in that lawsuit because she accepted the  $130,000 under the gobbledygook “settlement” she now seeks to undo.

The “agreement” and the lawsuit are perfect material for a law school exam question.

Fearing negative voter reaction to Stormy-Trump after the “Access Hollywood” tape, keeping it quiet was important to the Trump campaign. True.

No one knows whether knowledge of this dalliance would have  affected the outcome. “Access Hollywood” was baked-in.

The larger question is why anyone is interested in this drivel. This is not an abuse case. This is an extramarital
affair between two consenting adults where one wanted to assure silence and the other agreed for a price. Other than spawning some extraordinarily bad legal writing, this bothers you?