In Your Cites - A Quick Refresher Of Common Legal Citations For Your Bankruptcy Practice

By Megan E. Craig, Bayer, Wishman & Leotta (Los Angeles, CA)

New law school graduates and thirty-year veteran practitioners alike can benefit from a quick refresher on proper Bluebooki citation. This article reviews proper use of basic case, statute, internet and book citations, including use of short form and signals. It is intended for use as a supplement to the Bluebookii for easy reference by practitioners.

I. Basic Case Citation

Basic case citation should follow the following format: case name underlined or italicized, volume number, reporter abbreviation, first page of case, and pinpoint followed by court and decision year in parentheses.

Pursuant to Table 1 of the Bluebookiii, bankruptcy courts are abbreviated as “Bankr.” followed by the abbreviation for the district and state. The Bankruptcy Reporter is referenced as “B.R.”, and the Bankruptcy Appellate Panels are abbreviated as “B.A.P.” followed by the circuit, all in parentheses.

BANKRUPTCY COURT:

Party Name v. Party Name, Vol # B.R. first page #, page # used (Bankr. District Abbrev. & State Abbrev. & Court Year).

Example: Jones v. Adams, 11 B.R. 254, 256 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2016).

BANKRUPTCY APPELLATE PANEL:

Party Name v. Party Name, Vol # B.R. (B.A.P. Circuit Abbrev. & Court Year).

Example: Jones v. Adams, 11 B.R. 254, 256 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2016).

CIRCUIT COURT DECISIONS:

Party Name v. Party Name, Vol # F.edition # +d page #, page # used (Circuit & Court Year)

Example: Jones v. Adams, 11 F.3d 254, 256 (9th Cir. 2016).

II. Party Names

To cite a case title:

1) Omit any given case names [Bluebook Rule 10.2.1(g)iv]

Example: John Adams becomes Adams.

2) Omit organizational designations apart from the first [Bluebook Rule 10.2.1(h)v]

Example: Adams Corp., Inc. becomes Adams Corp.

III. Basic Short Form Citations

Short form citations may be utilized once a case has already been fully cited. To cite a case in short form include:

  1. Case Name (underline/italicize and abbreviate per Bluebook Rule 10.2vi)
  2. Reporter Volume
  3. Reporter Abbreviation
  4. “at” Pinpoint citation to page referenced

Example: Adams, 11 F.3d at 257.

Alternatively, Id. may be used to cite a case that was just cited in the preceding sentence.

Example: Id. at 257.

IV. Citations to a Federal Statute

To cite a federal statute, include:

  1. Title number
  2. U.S.C. (per Table 1, the abbreviation for United States Code)
  3. § Section number and code year

Example: 11 U.S.C. § 108 (2015)

Note: If an unofficial code, such as West or LexisNexis is used, this reference precedes the publication year in parentheses. (See Bluebook Rule 12vii for more in-depth discussion of federal statute citations.)

V. Citations to a Book

To cite a book, include:

  1. Volume number (if multi-volume work)
  2. Author’s full name
  3. Book title (underlined or italicized)
  4. Page number
  5. Edition
  6. Publication year

Example: 4 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1006 (2d ed. 1987). (See Bluebook Rule 15viii for book citations.)

VI. Citations to Online-Only Sources

To cite to resources only available online, include the article title followed by the website link and date last visited in parentheses.

Example: BEN & JERRY’S HOMEMADE ICE CREAM, http://www.benjerry.com (last visited January 1, 2016). (See Bluebook Rule 18ix for online source citations.)

VII. Use of Signals

Proper use of signals depends on the purpose of which the authority is being used. If the authority is being used:

To Compare, Use:

  • E.g. – authority states the proposition.
  • Accord – authority refers to other authorities that state the proposition.
  • See – authority cites the proposition directly or in dicta.
  • See also – useful when authority provides additional support for a proposition, but less direct than “see” or accord.”
  • Cf. – literally means “compare.” A complete understanding may require further explanation.

To Contradict, Use:

  • Contra – directly states contrary proposition.
  • But See – supports contrary proposition.
  • But cf. – supports contrary proposition by analogy.

(See Bluebook Rule 1x to learn more about signals.)

Place the signal before the citation, and capitalize the beginning letter of the signal chosen and underline or italicize it. A comma allows precedes and follows an “E.g.” signal.

Example: See, E.g., Chandle v. State, 198 S.E.2d 289, 290 (Ga. 1973); State v. Enlow, 526 S.W.2d 533, 541 (Mo. Ct. App. 1976).

VIII. Clean Cites, Clean Repute

Proper use of case citation is exceedingly important in legal memoranda and court briefs to display care in one’s work product. Careless citations can easily distract a judge from the quality of an otherwise strong legal argument. Instead, use clean, consistent citations to show respect for the court and opposing counsel (who may need to utilize the case cites). Do not let unpolished citations tarnish your work product and reputation. Review this refresher regularly to keep quality work product within your cites!

________________________

[i] The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Columbia L. Rev. et al. eds., 20th ed. 2015) [hereinafter The Bluebook].

[ii] Id.

[iii] Id. at 235.

[iv] Id. at 99.

[v] Id. at 100.

[vi] Id. at 96.

[vii] Id. at 120-134.

[viii] Id. at 149-158

[ix] Id. at 178-189.

[x] Id. at 58-66

________________________

craig megan atty authorMegan Craig is an associate attorney at Los Angeles consumer bankruptcy law firm Bayer, Wishman & Leotta. An alumna of Southwestern Law School, Megan has a true passion for bankruptcy law that is reflected in her scholarly achievements as recipient of the Judge Barry Russell Federal Practice Award, American Bankruptcy Institute Medal of Excellence, and her externships with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Central District Rules Committee and former Chief Judge Vincent P. Zurzolo. In addition to her academic achievements, she has 10 years of experience with reputable consumer bankruptcy law firms across the country. She is a frequent contributor to The Academy’s e-zine ConsiderChapter13.org.

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