March/April 2010
Styling in South Dakota

The U.S. Probation Office in the District of South Dakota is making a statement with their new Style Guide. This is not a guide on “Dress for Success,” but a guide created to assist in eliminating the frustrations of determining proper and consistent usage of grammar, words, and style. Leaders of the Court Unit: Rick Holloway, Kandice Mullivan, Shelly Schenkel, Kim Williams, and Trevor Wiebe were instrumental in developing the guide. Directly follow-ing the pages addressing the details of grammar in the Guide is an addendum with samples of reports used by the agency. These samples illustrate a consistent manner that the judges and officers have agreed upon. New officers to the District find the addendum invaluable.

Chief Cadwell made a commitment to improving the writing of all probation staff and began the process by ordering a copy of The Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference and an American Heritage Dictionary for everyone’s desk. A full day at the annual retreat was set aside for grammar and writing training, led by Suzanne Morrison, U.S. Courts Librarian. By the end of the workshop, Ms. Morrison was crowned the “Queen of Comma Drama” as she wove Grammar Bingo with structured writing Lego exercises and small group grammar exercises. Candy and prizes flew as winners were announced.

Judge Lawrence Piersol sent the following to Chief Terryl Cadwell, Librarian Suzanne Morrison, and the above officers: “I want to thank everyone for all the effort that went into preparing this excellent Writing Style Guide. I also want to thank everyone prospectively for taking the time to heed this Writing Style Guide.” To view the Style Guide, check out the following site: http://156.127.3.232/probation/handbook/USPOstyle.pdf

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