I had a question today about proper legal citations and where to find the rules for that.
Cornell University has published an online guide for this which can be found at:
Introduction to Basic Legal Citation(online ed. 2016)By Peter W. Martin
This work first appeared in 1993. It was most recently revised in the summer of 2016 to reflect the release of a new, free citation guide, The Indigo Book, and the publication of The Supreme Court’s Style Guide. Like all prior revisions this one also included a thorough review of the relevant rules of appellate practice of federal and state courts, and the latest edition of The Bluebook, released in 2015. It is linked to the new Indigo Book. As has been true of all editions released since 2010, it is also indexed to the The Bluebook and the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation. Importantly, however, it documents the many respects in which contemporary legal writing, very often following guidelines set out in court rules or style guides, diverges from the citation formats specified by those academic texts. The current online format, released in early 2016, was created with the assistance of a team of students enrolled in a graduate software engineering course at Cornell.
The content of this guide is also available in three e-book formats: 1) a PDF version that can be printed out in whole or part and also used with hyperlink navigation on an iPad or other tablet, indeed, on any computer (Be aware that not all PDF readers allow the user to follow links. You’ll want one, like Adobe’s, which does.); 2) a version designed specifically for use on the full range of Kindles as well as other ereaders or apps using the Mobi format; and 3) a version in ePub format for ereaders or apps that work with it. To access any of them, select “eBooks” at the top of the page. (Over 50,000 copies of the 2015 edition were downloaded.)
Since the guide is online, its further revision is not tied to a rigid publication cycle. Any user seeing a need for clarification, correction, or other improvement is encouraged to “speak up.” What doesn’t work, isn’t clear, is missing, appears to be in error? Has a change occurred in one of the fifty states that should be reported? Comments of these and other kinds can be sent by email addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please include “Citation” in the subject line.) Many of the features and some of the coverage of this reference are the direct result of past user questions and advice.
A complementary series of video tutorials offers a quick start introduction to citation of several major categories of legal sources. They may also be useful for review. Currently, the following are available:
- Citing Judicial Opinions … in Brief (8.5 minutes)
- Citing Constitutional and Statutory Provisions … in Brief (14 minutes)
- Citing Agency Material … in Brief (12 minutes)
Finally, for those with an interest in current issues of citation practice, policy, and instruction, there is a companion blog, “Citing Legally,” at: http://citeblog.access-to-law.com.
Peter W. Martin
I hope this helps all pro se litigants out there with your pleadings.