Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bluebooking (or not) with Judge Posner

     Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reviews the 19th Edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation in The Yale Law Journal. He’s not fond of the guide — or, apparently, of any other citation-system manual. Among other things, Judge Posner dislikes the ever-increasing length of the manual (“malignant growth”), a phenomenon he attributes to (as befits one of the major figures in the “economic analysis of law” movement) “[a] grim capitalist logic.”
     Notably, the review reprints the citation rules and principles Judge Posner sets out in his in-house manual for his law clerks.

h/t Howard Bashman and his invaluable How Appealing blog.


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Most of us do not have Judge Posner's hubris, which is the basis, in my opinion, for his attitude toward citation style. If I were an eminent judge on the 7th Circuit, or the guru of law and economics, I might also feel that I could cite things any way I wanted and no one would dare object. And please, Judge, don't point to West, hinting that "they" have no problem with your citation. If you didn't cite the version they print, guess what? They'll add the cite.
Yes, the citation manuals are lengthy, and they're getting longer, because most lawyers are citing a greater variety of things--especially things found online--than they cited in the 1950s and 60s, when the judge learned how to cite as a law student.
The manual was not designed for airplane reading, Judge. It's a reference manual, for gosh sake. Those of us who don't have the freedom to make up our own forms (or who practice before judges who prefer to see more standard forms of citation) use it for guidance. We look things up. One of the major improvements, in my view, in the citation manuals the last couple of editions, has been the inclusion of more examples.

Posted by: An observer | Jan 27, 2011 6:34:48 AM

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