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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New Citation Rules in Illinois

Via the Legal Writing Prof Blog, I came across this video on how to cite Illinois cases:

When the movie laid out the citation rules in the abstract, I was convinced that the Illinois Supreme Court had made a huge mistake.  Even the part of my brain that I had set aside to remember California's citation rules was appalled as the example began and the year of the decision was written without parentheses.

But when the full example was written out, I realized that this citation format has some substantial points in its favor.  For one, it is more compact than reporter citations in both Bluebook and California styles because the reporter volume and year of the decision are combined into simply the year of the decision.  Moreover, the rule's requirement that citations be to paragraphs rather than pages may end up simplifying citations that would typically span across multiple pages in traditional reporter citations.  If one is trying to quote a line from a decision, or cite to a case's holding, that holding or quote will probably be contained within a single paragraph.

I know that this development means very little for editors of law journals, since the Northeastern Reporter will still contain most Illinois cases that those journals will cite.  And I think that West's reporters have such a strong foothold in the standards and expectations of lawyers and law scholars that citation styles will stay the same on the broader scale.

But the Illinois rule change illustrates how citation rules can develop to become simpler and more aligned with electronic, rather than print, sources.

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