04/01/96 HyperLaw, Inc.®


HyperLaw Icon HyperLaw Comments - HL Report March 29, 1996 to ABA Special Committee on Citation Issues -- Preliminary Report of March 18, 1996

abarep.htm

THE HYPERLAW(r) REPORT


March 29, 1996

http://www.hyperlaw.com

info@hyperlaw.com

212-787-2812

ABA Special Committee on Citation Issues -- Preliminary Report


With Preliminary Comments of HyperLaw, Inc.

HyperLaw's General Comments.

Following are HyperLaw's preliminary comments concerning the draft dated March 16, 1996 of the ABA Special Committee on Citation Issues, which is set forth below. Preliminary Report. Comments are due to the Committee on or before April 22, 1996. HyperLaw testified at the December 8, 1995 hearing held by the Committee. See HyperLaw Comments to ABA. HyperLaw urges readers to communicate comments to the Committee as soon as possible. ABA Address for Comments.

In summary, HyperLaw commends the ABA committee for its draft report. As HyperLaw's President Alan D. Sugarman (sugarman@hyperlaw.com) was quoted in a San Fransisco Daily Journal article by James Evans dated March 20, 1996, "[The report] is very positive from my point of view...The Committee seems to have analyzed the issues well. Some things need to be looked at closer, but generally the ABA is heading in the right direction."

HyperLaw: Paragraph Numbering.

HyperLaw strongly believes that the Committee should make clear that paragraph numbers are to be used as the official pin-point citation whether or not a jurisdiction decides to adopt a sequence number or other method of citing to a case. This would be in accord with AALL Recommendation No. 2:

Regardless of whether or when jurisdictions adopt Recommendation 1, the Task Force encourages all jurisdictions [to] begin to number their decisions by paragraphs, and to allow citation to paragraph numbers.
The ABA Draft is not clear at 35 as to whether it is following the AALL recommendation. The ABA proposed recommendation (as distinguished from the Report) certainly is not as explicit at the AALL recomendation. This is important because some jurisdiction presently have public domain official reporters and citations, and may initially find it practical to only adopt the paragraph numbering recommendation.

HyperLaw: Style for Unreported Opinions

HyperLaw believes that the Committee should recommend a citation style for unpublished/unreported opinions, or any opinion or order to which the court has not assigned a sequence number, which citation style is consistent with the citation style recommended for published opinions. The committee recommended the following style for reported opinions:
1996 SDNY 15, 2
HyperLaw suggests that an unreported opinion might have the following citation style:
Matthew Bender & HyperLaw v. West Publishing Company, 1995 SDNY 94Civ0589, 2 (December 22, 1995).
This new style would not be the same as the Bluebook rule for unpublished opinions. We urge the ABA Draft to follow its path to the logical conclusion.

HyperLaw: Use of The Paragraph Symbol.


The ABA Draft does not provide for the use of the paragraph symbol or the abbreviation para. within the citation. Traditionally, the Bluebook has required the use of a paragraph symbol when citing to a paragraph numbered document. See HyperLaw Comments re Revisions to The Bluebook. South Dakota, the only U.S. jurisdiction that has adopted an official paragraph numbering scheme, decided to require the use of the symbol. The AALL and Wisconsin reports did not discuss the reasoning for omitting the paragraph symbol within the citation. For purposes of clarity, to avoid confusion where a traditionalist practitioner might cite to the page number rather than paragraph number and to enhance the ability to parse citations by computer, HyperLaw urges the Committee to recommend the use of the paragraph symbol , or Para.

The ABA Draft in 39 uses the following example:

A federal court of appeals: 1996 5Cir 15, 18, 22 F.3d 955.
HyperLaw urges that the ABA follow the Bluebook style of using the symbol as follows:
A federal court of appeals: 1996 5Cir 15, 18, 22 F.3d 955.
A federal court of appeals: 1996 5Cir 15, Para. 18, 22 F.3d 955.
The clarity offered by using the symbol is illustrated in the following example where multiple paragraphs are cited and where the seqence number and paragraph cite are the same number, for example 15 in the following cite:
A federal court of appeals: 1996 5Cir 15, 15,18-19, 22 F.3d 955. (Committee form).
A federal court of appeals: 1996 5Cir 15, 15, 18-19, 22 F.3d 955. (HyperLaw recommendation).
Indeed, another suggestion would be to use semi-colons between string citations:
A federal court of appeals: 1996 5Cir 15, 18; 22 F.3d 955.
It is also not clear at all that this example 39 of the ABA Draft means that the case started on page 955 of Volume 22. The final report should make this clear. If a court were to follow AALL Recommendation 2 and a court initially were only to adopt the use of paragraph numbers, then the citation might be as follows:
A federal court of appeals: 22 F.3d 955, 18.

HyperLaw Notes to Particular Paragraphs

HyperLaw also has the following comments as to specific paragraphs of the draft report:

HyperLaw Notes to 16 - Court Opinion Availability/Products:

If the Committee makes reference to the federal court release of electronic opinions, it should also note the following:
Three years after release of its slip opinions the United States Supreme Court releases the final print United States Reports, but the Court does not release at that time (or subsequently) its electronic version of those reports.

Only one of the ninety-four United States District Courts maintains an electronic bulletin board of its opinions, even though almost all such opinions are in electronic form.

It is also inappropriate for the Committee to promote specific commercial products, especially when most of those products are vaporware, and many of those vaporware products presently are available from other vendors. For example, HyperLaw was the first publisher to offer a federal appellate CD-ROM, in 1993, and since that time has published 12 quarterly releases. See HyperLaw Products.

HyperLaw Notes to 22 - Docket Numbers:

The Committee argues that the most significant disadvantage of docket numbers is that there may be multiple opinions in a single case. HyperLaw would respectfully request that the Committee review case number 86-6 of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in which to date twenty-six published opinions have been issued in a single case. The court has simply numbered its opinion computer files as 86-0006A.DC to 86-0000Z.DC. We continue to suggest that the Committee recommend the use of sequence number, but not express objection if in particular situations a court were to use a docket number based system. Finally, HyperLaw continues to suggest that there are advantages to the following format which may be attractive to particular courts:
1996 SDNY 15, 94-5982, 2.

HyperLaw Notes to 23 - Medium Neutral Candor.

HyperLaw believes the Committee should stop trying to fit a square peg in a round hole by over-promoting the concept of "medium neutrality." Sequence numbers, in some jurisdictions and situations, simply will not be medium neutral. Docket numbers are not medium neutral as well. Let us not oversell advantages that do not exist within all jurisdictions. We suggest the Committee make the following statement:
"We acknowledge that the use of sequential numbers or even docket numbers to identify opinions will in some situations be more cumbersome in print than in an electronic environment, especially in multi-court jurisdictions. However, we are recommending a system for the future where case law will be accessed primarily from electronic media. We believe the disadvantages that may exist in print media are far outweighed by the present and future benefits that will result from identifying opinions by a number. We believe that continuing to permit the use of a parallel citation to the opinion will also serve to ameliorate any problems. Moreover, we urge publishers to develop alternative CD-ROM products that more closely emulate books for those traditionalist users who prefer the look and feel of print opinions from books."

HyperLaw Notes to 25 - Court Identification Abbreviation.

The ABA Committee citation format court identifier differs from the recent AALL suggestions in Draft 2 to the AALL User Guide. The ABA Committee suggested the following, for a federal district court.
1996 SDNY 15
On the other hand, the AALL suggested the following format for a district court:
Gasaway v. Estes, 1998 US Mich (W Dist) 90, 44
HyperLaw believes the ABA Committee's format is far superior for a number of reasons including the following:

First, the ABA Committee format for the name of the court contains no spaces and parantheses. This will make for better computer retrieval in the typical indexing system which will index SDNY as a single "word" as opposed to the numerous "words" in the AALL citations. We also think there will be fewer typographical errors by using a more concise format.

Second, the ABA Committee's citation format may be readily converted to a computer file name: i.e., 1996SDNY15. This will permit so called Internet "search engines" to provide a location for all files with the file name 1996SDNY15 and will permit concise URL's. The same cannot be said for the AALL format.

In short, the ABA format is far more workable in the computer environment, as compared to the AALL format. Technology is one of the motivating reasons for going through the pain of a new citation system. A new citation form should specifically accomodate the technological environment.

HyperLaw Notes to 28. - Sequence Numbers Used by Some Courts

A number of courts with official reporters or publication committees already assign sequence numbers to slip opinions in order to track the opinions during the print publication process. Examples are the sequence "R" numbers assigned to United States Supreme Court slip opinions at the time those opinions are issued and the sequence numbers assigned to slip opinions in New York. These NY sequence numbers may be seen by inspecting the Lawyers Cooperative New York State CD-ROM: slip opinions bear a sequence number assigned by the office of the Reporter of Decisions, Fred Mueller. In addition, Justice Donald G. Alexander, Justice, Superior Court, has stated report provided to the Committee that "[Maine] has a longstanding serial numbering system, and a uniform format for certified opinions."

HyperLaw Notes to 30. - Other Issues

The Committee needs to develop a more specific set of suffixes to the opinion identifying sequence numbers to address a number of issues other than publication or non-publication.

Examples are:

An amendment to an opinion (for example on rehearing).
An amended opinion.
An errata sheet to an opinion.
An order relating to an opinion (such as a vacating order).
An opinion originally unpublished, and then published with an amendment.


[HyperLaw Note: The ABA report has been reformatted for HTML by HyperLaw. The original format used a unique footnote numbering scheme in which footnote numbering was applied at the paragraph level. HyperLaw appended the paragraph number to the footnote number to avoid confusion.]

ABA Special Committee on Citation Issues

March 18, 1996

NOTICE

The views expressed herein have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and, accordingly, should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association.

PRELIMINARY DRAFT FOR PUBLIC COMMENT

This is a preliminary draft distributed for public comment by the Special Committee on Citation Issues of the American Bar Association. While it represents the present views of the committee, it will be revised before submission to the Board of Governors and the House of Delegates of the Association. Comments will be received until April 22, 1996. The final report of the committee will be submitted by May 29, 1996, and is expected to be considered by the Board of Governors and the House of Delegates at the annual meeting of the Association in August, 1996. Comments may be sent to the committee's staff director:

Ms. Marilyn Steinke
American Bar Association
750 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Voice 312/988-5650
FAX 312/988-6230

Fifteen copies of the comments and two duplicate disks containing any word processing files available for the comments should be sent if possible. This will assist greatly in making the comments available to the committee members.

AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON CITATION ISSUES
REPORT TO THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES
                         RECOMMENDATION

     BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association             1
recommends that:                                                   2
                                                                   3
     1.  All jurisdictions adopt a system for citation to          4
case reports that is equally effective for printed case            5
reports and for case reports electronically published on           6
computer discs or network services, that system consisting of      7
the following key elements:                                        8
                                                                   9
     A.  The court should include the distinctive sequential      10
case number described in paragraph C below in each decision       11
at the time it is made available to the public.                   12
                                                                  13
     B.  The paragraphs in each decision should be numbered.      14
                                                                  15
     C.  The court should require all case authorities to be      16
cited by stating the year, a designator of the court, the         17
sequential number of the decision, and where reference is to      18
specific material within the decision, the paragraph number       19
at which that material appears.                                   20
                                                                  21
     D.  Until electronic publications of case reports become     22
generally available to and commonly relied upon by courts and     23
lawyers in the jurisdiction, the court should strongly            24
encourage parallel citations, in addition to the primary          25
citation described in paragraph C above, to commonly used         26
printed case reports.  When a cited authority is not available    27
in those printed case reports, the court should require           28
counsel to provide printed copies to opposing counsel and to      29
the court.  The parallel citation should only be to the first     30
page of the report and parallel pinpoint citations should not     31
be required.                                                      32
                                                                  33
E.  An example of the recommended form of citation for a          34
decision in a federal district court is:                          35
                                                                  36
        1996 SDNY 15, 26, 23 U.S.P.Q. 456.                        37
                                                                  38
In this citation, 1996 is the year of the decision; SDNY refers   39
to the United States District Court for the Southern District     40
of New York; 15 indicates that this citation is to the 15th       41
decision released by the court in the year; 26 is the paragraph   42
number where the material referred to is located, and the         43
remainder is the parallel citation to the volume and page in      44
the printed case report where the decision may also be found.     45

REPORT

1 The Special Committee on Citation Issues submits the following report concerning its recommendation to the House of Delegates:

I. Charge to the committee.

2 In recent years, growing numbers of court opinions have become available soon after their release, through electronic publication on computer bulletin boards, discs, and the Internet. The traditional method of citing to volume and page numbers in printed reports cannot be used effectively for these opinions because the printed reports typically are not published until considerably later. In an effort to develop citation methods that work effectively both with books and with computer databases, a number of jurisdictions are considering or have recently adopted new citation systems. While there are similarities, these new systems differ significantly among themselves.

3 The Board of Governors recognized the importance of avoiding a proliferation of varying citation systems and created this committee at the ABA Annual Meeting in August, 1995. The charge to the committee was:

The Committee shall (1) evaluate citation issues, inviting views from all ABA entities and organizations active in fields related to legal citation; (b) develop recommendations concerning a citation system which will be broadly acceptable to the bar and to the courts; and, (c) recommend action for consideration by the Board of Governors and the House of Delegates at the 1996 Annual Meeting.

II. The committee's study of citation issues.

4 The committee posted notices of its work on the ABA Network home page on the Internet and wrote to invite written submissions by interested individuals, ABA sections and divisions, state bar associations, state and federal judiciaries, the editors of the two leading citation manuals, publishers of legal opinions, law libraries, and other entities who had previously worked with citation issues. The first invitation was issued on October 17, 1995, and the period for submissions extended until May 5, 1996. Exhibit A lists the individuals and entities who submitted substantive information to the committee.

5 Based on the written submissions received by November 20, 1995, the committee selected entities and individuals to provide further information in oral presentations in Chicago on December 8, 1995. Those invited to make presentations represented the entire spectrum of views as to positions the ABA should take concerning citation issues. The following entities and individuals made presentations:

ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law
Sabina Assar
Gary D. Spivey
American Association of Legal Publishers
Eleanor J. Lewis
Alan D. Sugarman "HyperLaw Comments to ABA"
Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions
Frederick A. Muller
State Bar of South Dakota
Thomas C. Barnett, Jr.
Taxpayer Assets Project
James Love
West Publishing Company
Donna Bergsgard
Brady C. Williamson
Wisconsin State Bar
John H. Lederer
Christopher G. Wren
Jill Robinson Wren (individual Wisconsin lawyers)

6 The committee drafted an initial outline of its report based on the written submissions received and the oral presentations at its meeting on December 8, 1995. After a number of revisions, a draft report was distributed for public comment on March 18, 1996. Copies were sent to all who had submitted material to the committee and to all who requested a copy.

7 The committee took into consideration all of the information and comments it received by May 5, 1996, and prepared this final report with recommendations for consideration by the Board of Governors and House of Delegates at the 1996 ABA Annual meeting.

8 The committee was fortunate to have the benefit of the advice of liaisons from other organizations with particular expertise and interest in citation issues. These liaisons were:

Noel J. Augustyn, Esq. - Administrative Office of the United States Courts

The Honorable Danny J. Boggs - Judicial Conference of the United States

Rita T. Reusch, Esq. - American Association of Law Libraries.
The liaison members participated fully in the meetings and discussions of the committee, but did not take any part in the decisions of the committee as to its report and recommendations. The members of the committee, who were solely responsible for these decisions, and the entities from which they were drawn were:
Robert W. Barger, Immediate Past Chair, ABA - Section of Science and Technology (New Jersey).

James E. Carbine, Co-chair, Trial Practice - Committee, ABA Section of Litigation (Maryland).

J. D. Fleming, Jr., Chair (Georgia).

Professor Patricia B. Fry, Council Member, ABA -Section of Business Law (North Dakota).

Robert E. Hirshon, Chair Elect, ABA Tort and - Insurance Practice Section (Maine).

The Honorable Thomas S. Williams, Vice Chair, - Court Management and Administration Committee, ABA Judicial Administration Division (Wisconsin).

Carolyn B. Witherspoon, President, Arkansas - Bar Association (Arkansas).

III. Summary of the Committee's Conclusions

9 As directed by the Board of Governors, the committee evaluated the citation issues which were raised in the written and oral submissions it received. The primary issue of concern was whether or not the committee should recommend a new citation system which is not limited to references to volume and page numbers in printed case reports.

10 Comments submitted to the committee showed substantial agreement on certain core points. While preferences were expressed for one form of citation or another, there is general recognition that courts should be and are free to prescribe a preferred or mandatory citation method, including new methods which do not rely on the traditional system of citing to volume and page numbers in printed reports. (E.g., West Publishing's Statement of Position to the American Bar Association Citation Issues Committee, p. 12 (Nov. 17, 1995.)) There also is general agreement that substantial uniformity of citation systems should be encouraged for all jurisdictions. The major point of disagreement is whether or not parallel citations to a specific source, such as Lexis, Westlaw, or the West National Reporter System, should be required in addition to a "generic" and medium neutral citation. (Id.)

11 Based upon the information it received, the committee recommends that courts adopt a universal citation system using sequential case numbers for each year and internal paragraph numbers within the decision, these numbers being assigned by the issuing court and included in the decision at the time it is made publicly available by the court. The committee also recommends that parallel citations to commonly used print sources be strongly encouraged. This citation system is equally adaptable to printed and electronic case reports and is thus medium neutral.

IV. The Committee's Analysis of the Issues.

Issue No. 1: Is there a reason to change the existing citation system?

12 The existing citation system is based on a volume and page citation to a printed report of decisions. Some jurisdictions have official reports and a number of commercial vendors offer printed reports. These printed reports have earned universal acceptance by courts and lawyers, and a change in this citation system cannot be suggested absent a clear and convincing reason. The committee has no doubt that such a reason exists.

13 In recent years, computer-based technology has added capabilities which are now commonly recognized as offering significant improvements in the way that legal authorities are published and disseminated. Few courts still use typewriters. Decisions are largely prepared on computer word processors. As a result, decisions are generated as computer files that can be made available on online computer databases in a few hours instead of the several weeks that are often required to produce printed reports.

14 In addition to substantial improvement in the speed of publication, electronic publishing offers significant reductions in the bulk of case reports. Reports that would require hundreds of volumes to print can be stored on a CD-ROM disc far smaller than a paper back book, allowing a lawyer to carry a library and a computer to read it in a briefcase.

15 Another important factor is cost. For sole practitioners and small firms as well as for large firms, the current economic pressures on law practice demand that overhead costs be controlled. The cost of making legal research material available is therefore a key issue for most lawyers. The cost of a CD ROM library is often a small fraction of the cost of a printed library and the space it occupies. This makes extensive collections of case reports widely available in smaller towns as well as in the cities, and significantly decreases the cost of those reports.

16 The committee recognizes that many lawyers prefer to use printed case reports for legal research, and that printed reports likely may remain the preferred source for some time. Just as clearly, a number of examples demonstrate that the publication of case reports is beginning to respond at an accelerating pace to the lower cost and more prompt availability of material that electronic publication makes possible. As of January 1, 1996, the federal judiciary was

"in its seventh year offering various electronic public access services to federal court information. . . . The federal courts expect to complete the installation of an electronic public access service into every federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy court within the next several months. . . . All federal circuit courts now offer public users electronic access to appellate court decisions (slip opinions) and other court information . . . ."
(Directory of Electronic Public Access Services, U.S. Federal Courts Home Page, Internet, http://www. uscourts.gov.) All new circuit court opinions are now available on searchable databases soon after they are released. Some law journals are now published only on the Internet, and not in print. South Dakota is an example in which electronic publication of case reports by a state bar association has made inexpensive libraries available to all lawyers in the state at a modest cost. At least one publisher of CDROM case reports has said "we are in the process of expanding our coverage to all 50 states and adding federal coverage as well." (Brochure, LOIS, Inc., page 3, January 1996.)

See HyperLaw Note re 16

17 Examples such as these have convinced the committee that the continued growth of electronic publication of case reports is certain. It is clear that citation methods which are satisfactory for printed reporters are not well suited to electronic databases and reporters. The volume and page numbers which describe very naturally where material can be located in printed reporters are not meaningful or convenient to apply to computer files, which are far more easily indexed sequentially as they are released. In addition, requiring electronic reports to use the page numbers from printed reports is impractical since those page numbers are not available until quite some time after the electronic report is published. The adoption of a new citation method is essential to allow electronic publication of case reports to reach its full potential.

18 The committee concludes that it will be necessary to adopt a new citation system suited as well to print publication as to electronic publication. This new system should be medium neutral in that it should be as easily used with printed reports as with electronic reports. The principal objective is to enhance the use of all forms of case reports, and not at all to impede the use of printed reports.

Issue No. 2: What citation convention should be specified for reports of decisions?

19 As outlined in the following paragraphs, the committee recognizes that any citation system that will be equally useful for printed and electronic case reports must depend on the assignment of specific references by the courts at the time their decisions are released. The courts are in the best position to decide what those references should be, weighing such factors as administrative burdens and costs, convenience for the courts and practicing lawyers, and the advantages of uniformity among the various jurisdictions. The committee's recommendations in the following paragraphs are intended to suggest a beginning point for these decisions.

20 There are clear advantages to using a consistent locator system for printed reports and for electronic reports. This will allow lawyers and others to use the types of reports that best suit their needs and preferences, and to use the same citations in the works of a variety of publishers of printed and electronic reports.

21 The use of a universal citation system throughout all jurisdictions also has clear advantages. The free flow of commerce encourages interstate business operations and the result is that lawyers often practice in many different jurisdictions and courts increasingly take advantage of reasoned decisions from other jurisdictions. A system of universal, permanent, immediately available citations for electronic media will greatly ease the burden of those users.

22 Some have suggested that reports be cited by case docket numbers since these numbers could be used for electronic reports as well as for printed reports. This choice would entail several disadvantages, the most significant of which is that multiple decisions in a case would produce multiple reports with the same citation.

See HyperLaw Note re 22

23 We recommend that each court assign distinctive sequential indexing numbers to opinions it decides should be released for general distribution to the public. These sequential numbers can be used easily both in electronic reporters and in printed reporters.

See HyperLaw Note re 23

24 The committee recommends a universal system of citing to a decision by stating the year, a unique designator selected by the court, and a sequential number assigned to the decision <FNR24.1> This combination of identifiers creates a unique designation of that decision. The committee suggests that all jurisdictions adopt the mandatory use of this universal citation system.

Each jurisdiction will decide which of its decisions will receive a sequential number designation. See 29.

25 Examples of the universal citation form are:

The Supreme Court: 1996 US 15
A federal court of appeals: 1996 5Cir 15
A federal district court: 1996 SDNY 15
A federal bankruptcy court: 1996 BKSDNY 15.
See HyperLaw Note re 25

26 Federal administrative tribunals would use analogous forms, such as:

The Tax Court: 1996 TC 3
The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission: 1996 OSHRC 7
An OSHRC administrative law judge: 1996 OSHRCALJ 7

27 In the state courts, the states should be identified by the standard two letter postal codes. Examples of the universal citation form for state courts are:

Highest court in the state: 1996 CA 1
Intermediate appellate court: 1996 TXApp 1
Trial court: 1996 NYS 1

28 The committee recommends the use of this citation form by all state and federal appellate courts and trial courts for which case reports are customarily published.

Issue No. 3: How should sequential case numbers be assigned?

See HyperLaw Note re 28

29 The committee concludes that the courts in which the cases are decided should control the assignment of sequential case numbers.

30 The committee recommends that each court assign a sequential number to each decision that the court decides should be released for general distribution to the public. <FNR30.1> The court may also wish to add brief supplemental signals to the universal citation to give additional information such as non-precedential decisions, NP, or "uncitable" decisions, U. <FNR30.2> An example is:

1996 9Cir 33 U.
<FNT30.1> All decisions, whether or not assigned a number by the court indicating release for general public distribution, are of course public records and may be obtained by anyone for any purpose from the clerk. <FNT30.2> A decision not to number the decision will not prevent its being cited, to the extent permitted by the forum court, in the same manner as formerly, for example by docket number.

See HyperLaw Note re 30

Issue No. 4: What locator should be used for pinpoint citations within case reports?

31 The committee concludes that a uniform system of pinpoint citation is highly desirable, for the same reasons that support a uniform system of identifying case reports. With the proliferation of case reporters, it is entirely possible that the lawyers and the court may, in a given case, use different sources for their legal citations. A common reference point through a uniform system of pinpoint citations will be of significant help in avoiding the confusion that will result if different systems are in use among different publishers and different jurisdictions.

32 Location markers in printed case reports have been dependent on the format of the printed text, such as page, column, or line numbers. A selection of one or two columns per page, different page sizes, or different type fonts would change the location marker at which particular text appears within the report in various editions or formats.

33 For electronic case reports, the location markers used for printed reports are less meaningful. In a word processing file, for example, the page, column, or line location can be changed immediately by selecting different fonts or margins in the software. Fixed locators independent of formatting may be specified in many ways, such as by an arbitrary sequential number inserted after each 100 words of the report, but most readers feel that these arbitrary markers detract from printed reports.

34 One locator as suitable for printed reports as for electronic reports is the beginning of a paragraph. The committee concludes that the use of sequential paragraph numbers, such as those used in this report, within case reports offers a universal locator for case reports independent of the medium. Paragraph numbers can be applied easily, whether manually or through the use of a macro in a word processing program. If errors occur, the result would merely be that the locator is not quite as precise as it might be, so that multiple paragraphs fall within a single paragraph number, or that a single paragraph may be assigned more than one number. In either event the locator is still considerably more precise than a page number in a printed report and therefore is more usable.

35 The committee recommends that all jurisdictions adopt the use of paragraph numbers assigned by the court within case reports as locator markers. The paragraph numbers should become part of the official text of the opinion. <FNR35.1>

<FNT35.1>. The use of the paragraph numbers is discussed in 39 below.

Issue No. 5: Should parallel citations be employed in addition to the recommended universal citation?

36 Any new citation system must be designed to ease, not impede, the access of courts and lawyers to case reports. The system therefore should maximize the utility and comfort of the citation system for those who prefer printed case reports and for those who prefer electronic case reports. The committee's approach to its recommendation concerning parallel citations reflects this commitment.

37 The committee is convinced that over time, primary reliance on printed case reports will shift to primary reliance on electronic case reports. The duration of this transition period is likely to be determined by the reaction of the legal market. During the transition period, the committee recommends that in addition to the universal citation, all jurisdictions strongly encourage parallel citation to a print source, if there is one that is commonly used in the jurisdiction. Examples are a parallel citation to U.S.P.Q. (United States Patent Quarterly), the West National Reporter System, an official court reporter, and the BNA Labor Relations Reporter. If the report is not available in commonly used printed reporters, the committee recommends that the court require copies of the decision to be furnished to the court and opposing counsel.

38 The parallel citation should be to the beginning of the case report in the format employed by the print source. The committee recommends that pinpoint citation not be required in the parallel citation. If the source contains the paragraph numbers assigned by the court, the paragraph number in the primary citation will pinpoint the reference in the parallel source. If not, the pinpoint can be determined with minimal effort by manual counting.

39 Examples of the recommended parallel citation form are:

The Supreme Court: 1996 US 15, 20, 400 S.Ct. 1005.
A federal court of appeals: 1996 5Cir 15, 18, 22 F.3d 955.
A patent infringement case: 1996 SDNY 15, 26, 23 U.S.P.Q. 456.

ABA Special Committee on Citation Issues
March 18, 1996


HyperLaw, Inc. info@hyperlaw.com www.hyperlaw.com 212-787-2812 Publishers of HyperLaw's Federal Appeals Reporter -- Federal Appeals on Disc CD-ROM. The "first" CD-ROM reporter of federal appellate opinions.

"Back to Home Page"