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The Bluebook: A Systematic Approach: Cases

 

The Raw Material – The screen shot below shows the first page of a published case. It contains everything you’ll need to build a citation:

 

  • The parties’ names
    State of Minnesota
     Frank Irving Wiggins
  • The volume number of the reporter
    Volume 788
  • The reporter abbreviation
    N.W.2d
  • The page number on which the case begins
    509
  • The name of the court that decided the case
    Minnesota Court of Appeals
  • The date on which the case was decided
    September 14, 2010

 

The Tools

 

Because you’re writing as a practitioner, you’ll start with the Bluepages for the basics and move on to the white pages for the specifics.

 

The Bluepages

 

·         Rule B4.1

Rule B4.1.1

Cross referencing Table 6

Cross referencing Table 10

·         Rule B4.1.2

Cross referencing Table 1

·         Rule B4.1.3

Cross referencing Table 1

Cross referencing Table 10

 

The White pages

 

·         Rule 10.2.1 on case names

Cross referencing Rule 2 – Italicization

·         Rule 10.2.2 on case name abbreviations

Cross referencing Table T6 – the abbreviations list

·         Rule 10.3.1 on which source to cite

Cross referencing Table T1 on state sources

·         Rule 10.3.2 on reporters

Cross referencing Rule 3.1 on volume designation

Cross referencing Table 1 on state sources

Cross referencing Rule 3.2 on reporter pages

Cross referencing Rule 6.1(a) on spacing

·         Rule 10.4 on court and jurisdiction

Cross referencing Table 1 on state sources

Cross referencing Rule 6.2(b) on ordinal numbers

·         Rule 10.5 on date and year

 

The Process

 

So let’s work our way through these rules. Our first task is to format the party names:  

 

·         State of Minnesota

·         Frank Irving Wiggins
 

Rule B4.1.1 provides some guidance:

 

·         A Bluepage tip on p. 7 calls for underlining party names except for the comma that follows them. (In actual practice italicizing is preferred. Either underline or italicize, but choose one and stick to it throughout your brief or memorandum).

·         Rule 4.1.1(ii) – Use only the family name. Frank Irving Wiggins becomes just Wiggins.

·         Rule 4.1.1(v) provides that geographical terms be spelled out in full if they denote party names. So right now, the first party would be State of Minnesota. In fine tuning, this will change.

 

Rule B4.1.1 then sends you on to Rule 10.2 for fine tuning.

 

Rule 10.2.1(f) provides guidance about geographical names

 

·         Omit “State of” unless

·         You’re citing to a case from that state’s court, in which case you just use the word State. In other words, if the State of Minnesota is a party (it is) and the case you’re citing is from a Minnesota court (it is), you use only the word “State” to designate Minnesota.

 

So the party names look like this:

 

State v. Wiggins,

 

Next up, the citation to the reporter.

 

·         N.W.2d is the reporter. This is an abbreviation of North Western Reporter, Second Series.

·         788 is the volume number.

·         509 is the first page of the case.

 

Look at Rule B4.1.2:

 

·         The volume number comes first

·         Then the reporter abbreviation. If you don’t know the reporter abbreviation, consult Table T1.

·         Then the page

 

Rule 10.3 offers further guidance on which source to cite and reporter abbreviations, but in our case, nothing varies from Rule B4.1.2 so we’re golden! Our reporter citation looks like this:

 

788 N.W.2d 509

 

We’re in the home stretch. We just need to cite the court and year of the decision.

 

Rule B4.1.3 is where we go for the format. It tells us:

 

·         This information appears in parentheses

·         Court information is abbreviated according to Table T1.

 

Rule 10.4(b) offers further guidance about state court decisions and when certain elements may be skipped, and Rule 10.5 expands the information about dates, but neither rule applies to our case. So according to Rule B4.1.3 and T1, here’s our court and date:

 

(Minn. Ct. App. 2010).

 

The Finished Product

 

State v. Wiggins, 788 N.W.2d 509 (Minn. Ct. App. 2010).

Huzzah!  We have a citation!