Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Disuniform System of Citation

It appears that the good folks at the Sixth District Appellate Program have posted the most recent edition of the California Style Manual online. 

I have to say, I’ve always hated the way Yellow Book-style citations look, what with all of the extra parentheses, brackets and supras. The book is also maddeningly imprecise. The rule on abbreviations is, literally, use exactly whatever is on the top of the page in the reporter. And there are all kinds of annoying inconsistencies. For instance, § 1.1[C] explains short cites and provides some examples. In one example, the short cite is after the first cite inside a parenthetical proceeded by “hereinafter.” But in the next example, no “hereinafter.” Why? Doesn’t say.

Even though it’s not technically required, see Cal. R. Ct. 1.200 (giving a choice between the Yellow- and Blue- books “at the option of the party filling the document”), I’ve resigned myself to using the Yellow Book in California appellate briefs because to not do so feels like swimming upstream. But until someone tells me otherwise, it’s Bluebook all the way in superior court (and on this blog too). No doubt, the Bluebook is a mishmash of arbitrary rules made up by senior law review editors for the purpose of hazing junior law review editors. But at least—with a notable exception*—it is a uniform system of citation, as its subtitle proclaims. And it has a decent index.

*The Bluebook is agnostic on whether page ranges can be expressed by a hyphen or an en-dash. See Rule 3.2(a). I can’t tell you how many hours of my life I have wasted ironing out inconsistent dashing in briefs because of this stupid rule. It is particularly frustrating since—as the Chicago Manual of Style Rule 9.58 explains—the proper punctuation for numerical ranges is only the en-dash.

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