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Transcript of Bluebooking Cases
-The Bluebook: why even bother?
- Case Names
- Case Locations
- Court and Date
- Short Form Citations
- Put it all together
The first step to any good citation is getting the case name right.
Five basic rules of case names:
Court and Date!
Court and date information is crucial, but it is frequently left out by legal writing students. Your reader has got to know which court decided your case and when it was decided, so leaving this information out will really aggravate your reader (and this professor).
The first time you cite a case, the deciding court and year of decision appear in parentheses after the case location.
Short Form Citations!
When you cite a case for the first time, use the full citation format (described in the earlier section). Then, any other time you cite that case within the same section of your writing, you can use a short citation format.
Using the short form saves space and hassle!
Two types of short forms:
Citing correctly (or Bluebooking) does quite a bit of critical work within your legal writing.
1. It saves space.
2. It builds credibility.
Why even bother?
3. It provides crucial information quickly.
Bluebooking Saves Space!
You've got page limits on your writing, right? Why not save space for legal analysis by correctly citing cases.
By cutting out unnecessary words from case names, abbreviating party and court names, and using short-form citations, you can save considerable space.
Here's an example: last year, a student went over the page limit on her final writing assignment by about 10 lines, but she didn't use the Bluebook to format any of her citations. If she'd Bluebooked, she would have had room to spare in her paper.
Bluebooking provides crucial information quickly!
Legal readers are extremely busy people (think senior partners, judges, etc.; people who balance many cases at the same time). So, anytime you can save them time, you're helping them out. And making your reader happy is always a good thing.
Bluebooking cases provides several bits of extremely crucial information to the reader in an extremely quick fashion. That information includes:
- where the reader could find the case in the library
- which court decided that case
- when that case was decided
- who was involved in that case
Your reader needs to know
of that above information in order to determine if you're citing to a relevant piece of law or not.
Bluebooking Builds Credibility!
One of the easiest ways to look like you know what you're doing (even when you don't) is to cite sources correctly. Bad citation format is quickly and easily spotted by practicing attorneys, and will quickly cost you reputation points.
Which lawyer do you trust more?
Lawyer 1: Brown v. Board of Education,
Lawyer 2: Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483
Which lawyer do you trust more?
1. Brown v. Bd. of Education, 347 U.S. 483
2. Brown v. Bd. of Education, page 483 of US reporter volume 347
It immediately tells you who was involved in the case, what court decided it, when it was decided, and where you could find it in the library.
Look at this case citation: Norman Owen Trucking Inc. v. Morkoski, 506 S.E.2d 267, 270 (N.C. Ct. App. 1998).
1. Use only the first-named party on the left of the versus, and only the first named party on the right of the versus and omit their given names and initials. R.10.2.1.(a), (g).
Example: Janice P. Wheaton versus Frank Smithers and Ben McMillan becomes Wheaton v. Smithers
Quick Tip: Do not use et. al to denote multiple parties. Et. al almost never appears in a properly Bluebooked citation.
2. Omit procedural phrases, like plaintiff and appellant,and descriptive terms for parties described by name, like Secretary of State. R.10.2.1(e).
Example: Christine Sandoval, Secretary of the Treasury, defendant, becomes Sandoval.
3. Leave out "The" as the first word of a party's name. R. 10.2.1(d).
Example: The Bank of Canda becomes Bank of Canada.
4. Abbreviate words listed in T.1, T.6, and T.10, except for names of states and countries if those state or country names are the complete name of a party.
Example: Southwest Engineering Company becomes Sw. Eng'g Co. But United States does not become U.S. because United States is the complete name of the party.
5. Italicize case names, including the v., but not the comma after the last party's name.
Quick tip: Remember that it is always v., and not versus, not v, and not vs.
Every citation needs to tell the reader how to find the case in the library.
A case location includes four basic parts: the reporter volume, the reporter name, the initial page of the case, and the pincite page of the case.
Other tips for case location:
1. Don't italicize case location.
2. Use T.1! Just look up the relevant jurisdiction, and the Bluebook shows you exactly how to abbreviate and space the name of the reporters for that jurisdiction.
3. Remember the single adjacent capital rule for abbreviations -- if there are single adjacent capital letters (like N.C.), then there is no space between them. Otherwise, put a space in it (like Ct. App.).
4. Even if the initial page of the case and the pincite you're using are the same page, include both of them in your initial citation to the case.
And don't forget that pincite! Leaving out the pincite is like flipping your reader the bird. Don't do that.
5. Don't go comma-crazy. Only include commas after the last party's name and between the initial page and the pincite page.
Some tips for court and date:
1. Use T.1! It shows how to abbreviate and space the names of courts.
2. Do not use superscript on ordinal numbers -- they should look like this: 5th, 4th, 2d, 3d.
3. Put the year of the decision (not the year of trial or any other year) after the deciding court.
4. Don't use commas here!
5. After the year, close the parentheses and finish the citation with a period.
Id. can be used when you cite to the same case as the case that you immediately previously cited. There can be no intervening citations between the case you're citing and the id.
Id. comes in 2 varieties: Id. by itself (when you're referring to the exact same page in the case) and id. with an "at" followed by the page number and a period.
Examples: Id. Id. at 320.
Quick tip: Id. is
always ends with a period
, even if it does not end a sentence.
Party Name Short Form
If you can't use id. (because there's an intervening citation to a different source), the other short form option is to use a shorter version of the full citation. The formula for this short form is:
- One party's name (usually the party on the left of the v., unless that name is too common)
- Then the volume number
- Then the reporter name
- Then at the pincite page
- Then a period.
Example: Denson, 583 S.E.2d at 320.
Quick tip: You still italicize party names in short form citations.
One caveat to this party name short form: If the party name has been used in the textual sentence, you can leave it out of the citation sentence.
Example: The Denson court affirmed the judgment. 583 S.E.2d at 320.
Now let's put it all together!