It could have been just another legal opinion, straightforward and ever-so-slightly heavy.

After all, the opinion of three D.C. Superior Court judges was entitled "Memorandum Opinion and Judgement" - hardly an exciting entree to legal wisdom.

Yet it wasn't just opinion. D.C. Appeals Court Chief Judge Theodore R. Newman Jr. and Appellate Judges John W. Kern Jr. and J. Walter Yeagley recorded the legal history of a Superior Court case in verse: 12 stanzas to be exact.

To wit:

"With little support but with admirable zeal,

"Appellant advances this timely appeal.

"A panel of judges now having been polled,

"The trial court's order we hereby uphold."

The case involved a Southeast Washington woman who sued her landlord after a fire that was caused by a short circuit in the refrigerator of her apartment. She alleged negligence by the landlord and asked for $5,000.

The Superior Court ruled that negligence was unproved by the defense, and the woman appealed.

Judges Kern and Yeagley were unavailable for comment yesterday on their poetic prowess, and Judge Newman declined to say why the judge had chosen poetry for their opinion.

Alexander L. Stevas, clerk of the Appeals Court, said, "I guess they just wanted to have a little fun. This is the first time in my memory that a decision has ever been issued like that in the court.

"It's different," he said. "You can sure say for it."