As many of you are working to finish your papers for various classes. The editing and citations seem to take forever to complete. Many law students have felt the strong desire to use colorful explicatives and throw their Bluebook. If you are one of these students, you are not alone. It may be a little comforting to know that citation is important in the “real world.” Legal citation is used so the reader can quickly find the material indicated and determine the level of relevance (ex. jurisdiction, case, statute, how recent , etc.).
In 2009, the ABA reported a story about a Wisconsin lawyer was fined by the court due to his horrendous citation of a case. The bad citation wasted the court’s time and created frustration. While no Coastal student will ever be this lawyer, it is important to know that every jurisdiction has its own standard of citation. Most often, the standard is based on the Bluebook. But, how do you discover the specific standard and rules? The first place to start is Table 2 in the front blue section of the Bluebook. This section lists where to find the actual jurisdictional rule or statute governing citation. As citation rules can be scattered among several rules or statutes, it is important search the court rules or statutes for the applicable jurisdiction. Court rules can be located in books, Westlaw, Lexis, and the open internet. Most courts provide their rules on the internet. But, as their websites are often hard to search, the information provided in the table in the Bluebook can provide the edge needed to find the information. For example, Bluepages Table 2 indicates that Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.800 governs most citation in Florida and is flushed out in the Florida Style Manual.
Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute (LII) also provides a great starting place for state specific citation.