If all else fails after reading cites, you can use WestLaw
-- Cigar --, March 1, 1998
excerpt from http://law.house.gov/uschelp.htm found from http://www.nolo.com/ChunkLR/LR.index.html
To search for a U.S. Code section by title and section number . . .
use the form at
-- Dan Connolly, April 25, 1998
On your "reading legal citations" page, you indicated that a reader might see 450 US 346 or 450 S.Ct. 346 as equivalent citations to a particular case. That's not quite right. The first is a citation to the "official" U.S. reporter, the second is to "Supreme Court Reports" published (I believe) by West Publishing. However, their citation references are wildly different. Thus, if you're looking for a case at 450 US 346, the same case in the S.Ct. may (and likely will) be found at a cite that is entirely different.
-- Jeffrey Donohue, April 27, 1999
I have no idea why you would put up a legal citations page. But I figure that I'll comment on some things.
As someone pointed out earlier, you can't just substitute U.S. and S. Ct. in a citation (note the periods in U.S. and the space in S. Ct.) The earlier poster said they "may" be different. Actually they WILL be different. The Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.) contains many more pages than the U.S. Reporter. Furthermore, The volume of the Supreme Court Reporter is such that all cases decided in a single term have the same volume. That is not true with the U.S. Reporter. Also, while the U.S. Reporter is the "official" reporter, it is published less often than the Supreme Court Reporter. Thus, lawyers working out of books use the S. Ct. citations more often. For example, Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. August is both 450 U.S. 346 and at 101 S. Ct. 1146. Furthermore, you need to put the year of decision of the case. Thus, the correct citation would be Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. August, 450 U.S. 346, 101 S. Ct. 1146 (1981). Placing both the S. Ct. and the U.S. reference is optional, you may use just the U.S. citation at well. It should be noted that it is never correct to use only the S. Ct. citation, you must pair it with the U.S. citation as well. In addition, there is a third reporter (L. Ed.), but I won't get into that here.
The citation for the Tennessee case should be volume 217. However, it should be noted that only practitioners in Tennessee and those who are writing for Law Journals need enter in the Tennessee Reporter cite. People in the rest of the country would just write the cite as Ford Motor Co. v. Lonon, 398 S.W.2d 240 (Tenn. 1966). Thus, only the regional reporter is cited to and the jurisdiction and year is included in parentheses).
In addition, as I have done above, the case name is either italicized or underlined when written.
As to the citation to the U.S. Code, it should be 15 U.S.C. § 1402 followed by the year of the code. In addition, it is not volume and page, when it comes to the U.S. Code, but rather title and section (note that there does not appear to be a section 1402 in title 15). For example, 17 U.S.C. § 101 is title 17, section 101 of the U.S. Code (the definition section of the copyright code). To find it you would look at the Title 17 volume and flip through to find the correct section. You could also look at U.S.C.A., which has case annotations and is more useful to lawyers. In the alternative you could go to the Legal Information Institute and do a search of the U.S. code on their site.
Someone mentioned WestLaw, you need a subscription to use that service.
If you really want to know about legal citations, you need the 17th edition of The Blue Book, which explains in painstaking detail how to correctly cite cases and statutes.
Sorry, I've always been very anal about proper legal citation format.
-- Tom D, April 3, 2001
Interesting page. But in the legal briefs that I have been doing for about the last ten years, to all court from superior to U. S. Supreme I have come to the conclusion that the better way to cite is to use all of the publications from say, --- US---, --- L Ed2d ---, --- S Ct and if there is one, ---ALR4th /Fed ---.
But I place all of this information at the bottom of the page as fotnotes, in 10 point rather than fill my legal pleading with junk that makes my arguments harder to read. Each citatin is then numbered through the whole document. Citations actually break up the flow of one's argument. I suggest that it be tried. I think judges would fast get used to not having to skip over legal citations just to read one's legal mumbo jumbo. And it takes up less space in the long run so with page limitations always being a problem (read pain in the ass) space is always at a premium.
-- M. David Wertheimer, May 31, 2002