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Bluebook Citation: Court Documents

Bluebook Quick Reference

B17 (p. 24):  Bluepages Sources and Authorities for Court and Litigation Documents

BT1 (p. 29):  Bluepages table for Court Documents

The Basics

Citing court documents is a way of citing facts, which are found in the "record" of the case.  This is the compilation of documents submitted throughout the duration of the case.  The usual progression of court documents to court record  is a fairly standard path.  First a complaint is filed to the court clerk's office.  The clerk starts a file and assigns case number, known as a docket number.  From then on, all documents in that case will have that docket number, filed in chronological order.  These will generally consist of initial pleadings, discover documents, motions, and responses.

The citation of court documents is useful to both parties in a case, especially if one wants to refer back to documentation already files.  To do this, Bluepages Rule B17 states the cite will generally include:

  • Document name (properly abbreviated)
  • Pinpoint cite
  • Date
  • Electronic Case Filing number from PACER (when applicable)

NOTE:  The date is included when more than one document has the same name or the date significant to the discussion.  Be sure to include the full date in the citation.

The whole citation to the court document is to be enclosed in parentheses, with the period inside the closing parenthesis!

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Lorelle Anderson
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Subjects:Law