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October 14, 2011

Bluebook Citing Black’s Law Dictionary on Westlaw

Filed under: Bluebook, Tips — uhlawlibrary @ 11:03 am

When citing Black’s Law Dictionary on Westlaw, The Bluebook citation looks like this:

Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009), available at Westlaw BLACKS.


Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009), available at Westlaw BLACKS.

If you use a book, you can eliminate the last 29 characters and put the page number in before (9th ed. 2009).

Black’s Law Dictionary 126 (9th ed. 2009).


Black’s Law Dictionary 126 (9th ed. 2009).


September 15, 2010

Citing to Cases Found on Casemaker, Westlaw, LexisNexis or the Internet

Filed under: Bluebook, Tips — Tags: — uhlawlibrary @ 11:05 am

When do we use Rule 18 and when do we ignore it?  For example, we use R18.3.2 when we cite statutes, why don’t we use it with cases?  The Bluebook requires citation to the regional reporter (R10.3.1(b)).  We don’t need to indicate where we found the case – whether online or in Westlaw, Casemaker or LexisNexis – because the text of the case, unlike the text of statutes, does not change once it’s reported.  We merely have to validate and update the case using a citator like KeyCite or Shepard’s for the equivalent of the currency statement that we need when citing to statutes.

Remember, you cannot cite to headnotes or syllabi provided by the courts or legal publishers.  Headnotes and syllabi are provided to aid the researcher in finding and understanding the case and are not authority.  See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber, 200 U.S. 321, 336-37 (1906).

Citing to State Statutes Found on Casemaker

Filed under: Bluebook, Tips — Tags: — uhlawlibrary @ 10:52 am

The way to cite to state statutes found on Casemaker is to begin with B5.1.2, State Statutes.  (Note that you are expected to cite to statutes currently in force according the Rule 12.1, which is the parent rule of B5.1.)  B5.1.2 leads us to Table 1.3 to find the official and unofficial statutory compilations for our state.  Casemaker uses the information provided by the state legislature whether annotated or unannotated.  (Typically state statutes are unannotated with some exceptions as in Hawaii where the official code is annotated.)

According to B5.1.2, Table 1.3 lists the official code first followed by the unofficial codes. Here’s where confusion can begin because some states have stopped publishing their own statutes and have designated the code (usually by statute) produced by legal publishers like West and LexisNexis to be the official statutory compilation for that state.  When that happens, it can change what information goes into the parenthetical.  For example, T1.3 Maine indicates West’s Maine Revised Statutes, listed first, is the official code, but the citation parenthetical does not include West in it as it would if this were an unofficial code.  See T1.3 Hawaii for an example of unofficial codes and how the parenthetical typically changes to include the publisher and the date when it is West or LexisNexis.  Of course you can find numerous examples where The Bluebook does not maintain this consistency, so the general rule is to make your citation conform to the citation in T1.3.  Yes, be robotic about it!

The final problem with the parenthetical involves Rule 18.3.2 and Table 9.  “[G]ive parenthetically the name of the database and information regarding the currency of the database as provided by the database itself . . . ” [emphasis added].  The examples show citations to West, Westlaw; LEXIS; Versuslaw; Loislaw and Deering, LEXIS.  Casemaker is not there.  But, patterning the parenthetical after Versuslaw and Loislaw, two databases that don’t have the market share of either Westlaw or LEXIS, would be the option I would choose.  For example, let’s assume the currency statement on Casemaker read “Current through 2009 Legislative Session.”  The parenthetical would be (Casemaker through 2009 Legis. Sess.).  I used T9, Legislative Documents, to abbreviate the terms I could in the parenthetical – Legislative and Session.

November 25, 2009

Bluebook Tips: Bluetips

Filed under: Bluebook, Tips — Tags: — uhlawlibrary @ 8:00 am

The editors of the The Bluebook provide authoritative guidance to reasonable questions on subjects covered by it. The most useful answers are gathered as Blue Tips, classified by subject. These tips are searchable and linked to the Bluebook content they address provided you have a subscription to the online version of The Bluebook. Regardless, the rule numbers are listed in the tips so you can simply refer to your hard copy.  To ask a question of these authorities, send your questions to editor@legalbluebook.com. If our answer is useful to Bluebookers generally, it may be formulated into a new tip.  Otherwise, you may just get the official answer.

At this site I learned how to cite a photograph that appears on an unnumbered page, how to use Id. with statutes, and other ephemeral Bluebook rules.  URL:  http://www.legalbluebook.com/Public/BlueTips.aspx

November 13, 2009

Bluebook Tips: Hierarchy of Authority

Filed under: Bluebook, Tips — Tags: — uhlawlibrary @ 8:00 am

Merely persuasive authority, even if it is the U.S. Supreme Court, is always “trumped” by mandatory authority. And, it is of no use to cite statutes that have no application in the relevant jurisdiction.

Sometimes courts impose specific citation requirements on the practicing bar.  Where specific requirement or preferences exits, they must be followed.  Therefore, local custom or local court rules trump anything in The Bluebook.

Find out more about Bluebook citations from Legal Writing Citation by Larry L. Teply.  It’s a “Nutshell” publication available at the circulation desk.  Just ask.

October 16, 2009

Bluebook Tips: Id. for Cases Using Public Domain Format

Filed under: Bluebook, Tips — Tags: — uhlawlibrary @ 11:27 am

Bluebook Rule 10.3.3 Public Domain Format; Rule 10.9(b)(ii) Short Forms for Cases, “Id.” for parallel citations.

Some states have adopted a citation format that does not reference a particular vendor’s case reporter such as West’s regional reporters.  The Bluebook requires that you follow Table 1 when citing a case in a jurisdiction that employs the public domain format.  Many states in the U.S. Midwest use this format and Maine.  Typically the jurisdiction uses a parallel citation to the regional reporter for cases after a certain date. For example, a citation to a case in South Dakota after Dec. 31, 1996, looks like this:  Wulf v. Senst, 2003 SD 105, 669 N.W.2d 135.  A pincite to this case might be like this:  Wulf v. Senst, 2003 SD 105, ¶ 14, 669 N.W.2d 135, 141.

How, then, do you properly use Id.? Using the example, above, with a hypothetical picite to ¶ 17 where the same information is found on page 147 of N.W.2d, it would look like this: Id. at ¶ 17, 669 N.W.2d at 147.

Bluebook Tips: Where Beginning of Quoted Text is Omitted

Filed under: Bluebook, Tips — Tags: — uhlawlibrary @ 10:16 am

Bluebook Rule 5.3(b)(i) Omissions, When using quoted language as a full sentence

If you quote an entire sentence, beginning to end, capitalization isn’t much of a problem.  But when you begin a sentence with a quotation from another source and it isn’t the beginning of the sentence, you cannot arbitrarily change the capitalization in the quoted material without indicating the change.  Do that by enclosing the capital letter in brackets [ ]. The brackets alert the reader to a change from the original.

For example:  “[C]itation forms in The Bluebook are designed to provide the information necessary to lead the reader directly to the specific items cited.”  The Bluebook:  A Uniform System of Citation 2 (Columbia Law Review Ass’n et al. eds., 18th ed. 2005).

Bluebook Tips: Cases in Electronic Media

Filed under: Bluebook, Tips — Tags: — uhlawlibrary @ 8:00 am

Bluebook Rule 18.1.1 Cases

The only time you would cite to a case on Westlaw or LexisNexis (with its WL or LEXIS number) is when it is an unreported or pending case.  Thus, if you find a reported case on Westlaw or LexisNexis, cite to the regional reporter, if a state case; cite to the official reporter from Table 1 for federal cases. See also Rule 10.8.1.

October 15, 2009

Bluebook Tips: When “State of” Is a Party in a Case

Filed under: Bluebook, Tips — Tags: — uhlawlibrary @ 4:23 pm

Bluebook Rule 10.2.1(f) Geographical terms.

When one of the parties to a case begins with 1) “State of,” 2) “Commonwealth of,” or 3) “People of,” use  1) State, 2) Commonwealth, or 3) People when citing decisions to state-reported cases.  Thus, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania becomes Commonwealth in the Atlantic Reporter or in a Pennsylvania state reporter.

Say the case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, then Commonwealth of Pennsylvania becomes Pennsylvania when it is reported in U.S. Reports.

The thing to remember for this rule is when the court or jurisdiction of the case can be easily deciphered from the citation, there is no need to use the geographical term in the case name.  Thus, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania becomes Commonwealth in A.2d citations because the court must be specified in the parenthetical with the date.  And Commonwealth of Pennsylvania becomes Pennsylvania in U.S. citations because U.S. Reports only reports decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court and the party would be ambiguous simply as “Commonwealth.”

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