A quiet buzz circulated last January at the Appellate Practice Section's Publications Committee to the effect that a new edition of The Bluebook had been published. None of us anticipated seeing the book on the New York Times best-seller list, but we took note since The Bluebook is the appellate lawyer's "bible" for legal citation. Just as substantive law changes, citation rules also change and keeping abreast of the new rules is essential for clear communication in the appellate realm. This article will attempt to update Florida practitioners on some of the latest changes to citation rules that all attorneys, trial and appellate, should know, and it will present some examples of the basic citation forms using The Bluebook and Rule 9.800.
Florida lawyers have two main sources of citation forms and a third less-utilized source. The two main style guides are Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.800, which sets forth Florida's "Uniform System of Citation," and The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. (1) Rule 9.800 by its terms applies in all appellate proceedings in Florida, (2) and specifies that citations not covered in the rule should follow The Bluebook. New editions of The Bluebook are generally issued every five years; the newest 18th edition was released in 2005. (3) The third source of citation rules is the Florida Style Manual (4th ed. 1997), published by the Florida State University Law Review, which is most frequently used for legislative materials and state and local government documents. Rule 9.800(o) provides that citations should be in the form set forth in the rule, the latest edition of The Bluebook, or, if not covered by those, then in the form prescribed by the Florida Style Manual.
Before discussing the citation rules, it may be helpful to review the purposes of citations and citation forms. The purposes of citation in legal writing are attribution and support. Attribution citations allow identification of the source of legal and factual statements and ideas that are beyond the writer's own reasoning process. Support citations establish the legal authority for statements of law. Citations are designed to allow the reader to locate a cited source accurately and efficiently. (4) Citation forms provide the minimum amount of information necessary to lead the reader to the source and to convey other key information concerning the source, including the character and degree of support the authority provides and the nature and date of the authority. (5)
A citation consists of three basic parts: an introductory signal stating the nature of the support provided, a description of the authority, and an optional parenthetical phrase explaining its relevance to the subject matter. The rules for each of these parts of a citation have undergone change in recent years. While the Florida Uniform Citation System in Rule 9.800 has been fairly static, The Bluebook has been revised on a schedule of once every five years, most recently in the new 18th edition.
Introduction to the 18th Edition Bluebook
One of the primary complaints about The Bluebook for many years has been that it was poorly indexed and impossible for practitioners to use. (6) This criticism prompted the Association of Legal Writing Directors to publish a competing citation manual in 2000. (7) The editors of The Bluebook have now attempted to address this concern by making it more user-friendly. The "Bluepages," new to the 18th edition, is "a how-to guide providing easy-to-comprehend instruction for the everyday citation needs of first-year law students, summer associates, law clerks, practicing lawyers, and other legal professionals." (8) The examples used in the Bluepages employ simple typeface conventions common in the legal profession rather than typesetting conventions used in law review publications. The Bluepages replace the Practitioners' Notes. The 18th edition also sports a fresh new look from cover to cover, and has been professionally reformatted for ease of use.
The Bluebook recognizes for the first time that many state and federal courts promulgate local citation rules, which take precedence over Bluebook rules in documents submitted in those jurisdictions. Bluepages Table 2 lists local rules and jurisdiction-specific citation manuals that provide guidance on local citation, such as Florida's Uniform Citation System in Rule 9.800.
In these days of high speed technology, it is not surprising that one of the major changes in the 18th edition is the nearly complete rewrite of Rule 18 (Electronic Media and Other Nonprint Resources). (9) Review of any Florida Bar Journal article or appellate brief will demonstrate the increasing use of electronic databases and Internet citation. Major changes include rules for direct citation of electronic databases such as Lexis and Westlaw and parallel citation of electronic sources when it will "substantially improve access to the relevant information." (10) When citing cases in electronic databases, include the case name, docket number, database identifier, court name, and the full date of the disposition, as well as any codes or numbers that identify the case citations and indicate screen or page numbers with an asterisk preceding the number. Lexis cases are cited as follows: Gibbs v. Frank, No. 02-3924, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 21357, at *18 (3d Cir. Oct. 14, 2004); Westlaw cases are cited as: Shelton v. City of Manhattan Beach, No. B171606, 2004 WL 2163741, at *1 (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 28, 2004). Our fascination with technology is also reflected in the fact that the 18th edition includes citation formats for e-mails and blogs. (11)
The increase in globalization prompted another major change to the 18th edition. Rule 21 (international materials) provides citation forms for treaties and international agreements, international law cases, and United Nations, European Union, and World Trade Organization materials. (12) Practitioners who work in international courts will welcome the style guides for the International Court of Justice or World Court, the European Court of Human Rights, or the East African Court of Appeal. (13)
Rules for Citing Cases
* Common Form for Florida Cases Published in Official...