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LPL 720: Policy, Planning, and Change: Legal Citations

This guide will help students in LPL 755 complete their research and assignments.

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Legal Citations

Note: When briefs and memoranda were prepared on typewriters, emphasized text was underlined. While older citation reference works may still call for underlining, that format has largely been replaced by the use of italics, made possible by word-processing software and modern printers.

All About Citations

The Basic Form

Example

Definitions

Practice

For More Information....

All About Citations

All About Citations

A citation is a reference to a legal authority. It is essential that citations to legal materials follow a standard format so that anyone using a law library may find the resources cited. Citation formats exist for many different types of legal sources including cases, statutes and secondary legal materials. Understanding the basic format for each of these different types of sources will enable the researcher to more independently locate materials in the law library.

Reading a Case Citation

Cases are published in reporters. A case citation is generally made up of the following parts:

the names of the parties involved in the lawsuit

the volume number of the reporter containing the full text of the case

the abbreviated name of that case reporter

the page number on which the case begins the year the case was decided; and sometimes

the name of the court deciding the case.

 

Below is an example of a case citation:

Hebb v. Severson, 201 P.2d 156 (Wash. 1948).

For more information, please visit Brigham Young University Law Library's website.

Basic Form

The basic form:

 

Example

Another example:

 

 

Definitions

Definitions

Statute: a law that has been voted upon and passed by legislative bodies. There are federal, state, and municipal statutes.

Citation: a reference to a legal authority. It is essential that citations to legal materials follow a standard format so that anyone using a law library may find the resources cited. Citation formats exist for many different types of legal sources including cases, statutes and secondary legal materials. Understanding the basic format for each of these different types of sources will enable the researcher to more independently locate materials in the law library. EXAMPLE: Hebb v. Severson, 201 P.2d 156 (Wash. 1948).

Parallel Citation: used when the same case is printed in two or more different reporters.  In other words, a parallel citation references location information for more that one source of a case. 

Practice

Let's Practice!

Open 3 tabs in your browser (for LegalTrac, Nexis Uni, and Google Scholar) and search for the following cases:

 

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer

Wallace v. Jaffree 

379 F.Supp.3d 334 (2019)

United States v. Lopez

 

How do these databases differ?

Which one gives the most information?

Which one is more user-friendly?

 

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