September 30, 2014

Ross Guberman: The Charlie Sheen Letter

With Charlie Sheen taking his one-man show on the road, I wanted to share a letter to Sheen’s counsel signed by Munger Tolles partner John Spiegel.

Rarely do we get a chance to read a letter from a former Supreme Court clerk about something this juicy.

So long as the facts don’t make you blush, consider these seven style techniques:

1. Parallel sequence

Warner Bros. would not, could not, and should not attempt to continue “business as usual” while Mr. Sheen destroys himself as the world watches.

… no professional apparently was willing to attest that Mr. Sheen had self-treated, self-healed, and self-cured his brain of his addiction problems.

2. Using “and so” rather than “therefore,” “consequently,” or even “thus”

As Mr. Sheen was aware, some lead time was required to restart production and so it was scheduled to resume February 28.

3. A dash for emphasis

Press reports described the trip as a three-day bender, and noted that Mr. Sheen was seen drinking the morning of his return, January 11—the same day he was scheduled to begin rehearsing that week’s episode of the Show.

4. A fragment to add variety

You claim that Mr. Sheen was turning in “brilliant” performances during this time. Not true.

5. A sentence of all one-syllable words

As bad as all this was, the worst was yet to come.

6. Letting your opponents’ words speak for themselves, without gloating or other commentary

Mr. Sheen recently stated in an interview that the last time he used drugs, he “probably took more than anybody could survive. I was banging seven gram rocks [of cocaine] and finishing them. That’s the way I roll.”

7. Fleshing out a series through bullet points

For example, Mr. Sheen called Mr. Lorre a “contaminated little maggot,” a “retarded zombie” and a “turd.” He also stated that he wishes Mr. Lorre “nothing but pain” and that he has “defeated this earthworm with my words—imagine what I could have done with my fire breathing fists.” [A]mong many other bizarre comments, Mr. Sheen has proclaimed:

  • “I am on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen. . . . If you try it once you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.”
  • “I have tiger blood” and “Adonis DNA.”
  • My brain “fires in a way that is . . . maybe not from this particular terrestrial realm.”
  • “I’m not bipolar but biwinning.”
  • “I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.”

I won’t even try to top that last line. Happy writing!

Ross Guberman is the founder and president of Legal Writing Pro, an advanced legal-writing training and consulting firm. He has conducted more than a thousand programs on three continents for many of the largest and most prestigious law firms and for dozens of state and federal agencies and bar associations. Ross is also a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School, where he teaches an advanced seminar on drafting and writing strategy. When you see the logo, you’re reading an article from Legal Writing Pro, where the article originally appeared.

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