The reporter selection and citation The court and year parenthetical Part 3a of the Legal Methods Lecture Series By Terry Seligmann
Full case citations Use the full case citation the first time that you refer to the authority
Components of a Full Case Citation Bluepages Rule 5.1: Name of the case Published source in which it may be found Parenthetical indicating the court and year of decision Other parenthetical information, if any (the “explanatory parenthetical”) Subsequent history of the case, if any
Which Reporter? Depending upon the court, a case may be published in more than one source. Table 1 of the Bluebook provides the “Cite to” source for published federal and state court decisions at each level of court.
Federal Cases For Supreme Court cases, Table 1 (p.193) reads: “Supreme Court (U.S.): Cite to U.S. if therein, otherwise, cite to S. Ct., L. Ed. or U.S.L.W., in that order of preference” The translation– if it is in U.S. reports, that is the source to use: Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 195 If it is a new case (within the past two years or so), the U.S. reporter may not yet be issued that contains the decision, so there is an order of preference given.
Federal Cases & Table 1, cont’d. Courts of Appeals: Cite to F., F.2d or F.3d, if therein (the Federal Reporter) District Courts: Cite to F. Supp. or F. Supp. 2d (the Federal Supplement)
State Cases A decision of a state’s highest court will be published in one of the regional reporters. Cite to the regional reporter. (B5.1.3(iv)). For other state court decisions cite to the regional reporter if the decision appears there. (B5.1.3.(v)). Example: Chalfin v. Specter, 233 A.2d 562, 563 (Pa. 1967).
Vol. Rptr. Pg., Pinpoint Pg. The full case citation must include the Volume, Reporter abbreviation, Starting page, and the Page on which the material appears– the pinpoint page. Example: United States v. Jardine, 364 F.3d 1200, 1203
The Court/Date Parenthetical Every full citation needs to tell the legal reader the court and date of decision. If the reporter abbreviation conveys the court of decision, that is enough. Example: Meritor Sav. Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 60 (1986).
But if the reporter contains decisions from more than one court, you will need to designate the court in the parenthetical. Example: United States v. Jardine, 364 F.2d 1200, 1203 What level of court? Which court?
United States v. Jardine, 364 F.2d 1200, 1203 (10th Cir. 2004). Aha – Mandatory authority for the federal court in Oklahoma! Stengel v. Callahan, 983 F. Supp. 1154, 1160 (N.D. Ill. 1997). Kaplan v. Ziff, 530 N.W.2d 807, 809 (Minn. Ct. App. 1995).
Where do I find the abbreviations I need for the court of decision parenthetical? For state courts, Table 1 lists (in parentheses) the abbreviation for the court of decision to use in this parenthetical. Example: Bluebook page 215, Table 1 -- Minnesota— Court of Appeals (Minn. Ct. App.) Example: Bluebook page 229, Table 1— Pennsylvania—Superior Court (Pa. Super. Ct.)
Court abbreviations for federal courts There’s no list in the Bluebook of the abbreviations for the U.S. Courts of Appeal, but they are: 1st Cir., 2d Cir., 3d Cir., 4th Cir., 5th Cir., 6th Cir., 7th Cir., 8th Cir., 9th Cir., 10th Cir., 11th Cir., and D.C. Cir. For the United States District Courts, use D. for District, N., S., E. or W., plus the Table 1 abbreviation for the state. For the state abbreviation, use the abbreviation in parentheses for decisions by the highest court of that state (not the postal code abbreviation). D. Mass. not D. MA S.D.N.Y. E.D. Pa. not E.D. PA
The Spacing Rule for Abbreviations The same spacing rule applies for reporter abbreviations and for the court designation in the court and year parenthetical Bluebook Rule 6.1(a) Close up adjacent single capitals N.W. S.D.N.Y. Treat ordinals as a single capital F.2d S.E.2d
Insert a space before and after any abbreviation of two letters or more F. ∧ Supp. ∧ 2d So. ∧ 2d D. ∧ Mass. N.D. ∧ Ill.
Whew– are we done yet? The credible citation– no eyebrows raised The important parts Building your reputation – neatness counts