Monday, December 3, 2007
One way to put our own assumptions about legal citation into cultural perspective is to read the story of another country’s citation disputes.
Professors Shulamit Almog and Ronen Perry, at the University of Haifa, have written an interesting account in Legal Citation Rules: Reflections on the Formation of Discourse Norms, 3 Haifa Law Review 239 (2007).
Here’s how they summarize the story:
"In the spring of 2006, an 80 pages booklet, sponsored by four Israeli law reviews, and titled Uniform Citation Rules in Legal Writing, was published in Israel. Given its cover color and notable similarity to the American Bluebook, we called it The Purplebook. The Haifa Law Review had to decide whether to substitute the new rules for its traditional citation method. The Editors' reflections on this seemingly technical matter generated interesting queries about the need for uniform citation rules, the process of their formulation, endorsement and modification, their substance and their form. The unprecedented opportunity to seriously deliberate on the various aspects of legal citation has yielded this essay. To begin with, the essay examines the need for uniformity in citation, and discusses the advantages and shortcomings of such uniformity on different levels of abstraction. Considerations pertaining to aesthetics, efficiency, and preservation of unique-identities (pluralism) go against the attempt to impose a uniform set of citation rules on Hebrew legal writing in its entirety. Next the essay appraises the production process of the new booklet on two levels. First, it presents the historical development of legal citation rules in Israel and demonstrates that the Purplebook pretends to be the successor of a long-standing custom, where none actually existed, and makes false claims of originality by ignoring the historical background - as a means for acquiring legitimacy and authority. Second, the essay criticizes the exclusion of second- and third-tier journals from the process - as a means for perpetuating the existing hierarchy in Israeli system of legal education. Finally, the essay criticizes the Purplebook's substance and form from various theoretical perspectives. The conclusions have led to an outright rejection of the new rules by the editorial board of the Haifa Law Review."