LSAT Kung Fu Blog / Semester 2, Week 10: Ugh. Bluebook.
Semester 2, Week 10: Ugh. Bluebook.
The Bluebook, or as the French call it, the Bleubook (nope. Sorry I wrote that. I take it back, and please convey my condolences to the senses of humor I killed by typing it). Where was I? Oh, yeah:
You guys will learn to love the Bluebook.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha . . .
. . . [Deep breath, wipes eyes] . . .
No, I’ve got a grip now. I’m good. It’s OK.
The legal Bluebook is the manual for proper legal citation. It is even less good than you’re thinking right now. Because probably, you’re thinking “Well, OK. I mean, I’m sure it’s not riveting reading or anything, but it’s just a set of rules for doing legal citation. What’s the big deal?”
Let me tell you a little bit about that. I’ll do it by example. OK, let's see. If you’re doing a citation to a case that contains the word “Hawaii,” here are some of the rules you’ll need to follow:
- If you’re doing a textual citation (as opposed to a footnote citation), and if “Hawaii” is part of the name of one of the parties in a case you’re citing, then you need to italicize it. Dave v. Hawaii Pacific Fisheries
- If, in this textual citation, “Hawaii” is the full name of the party (like, if someone is suing the state of Hawaii), then “Hawaii” is the only word you keep for the party name; you do not write “State of Hawaii.” Dave v. Hawaii
- Except, if the case is being brought within an Hawaiian state court, you omit the “Hawaii” part instead and keep the “State” part only. State v. Dave
- But if you’re doing footnotes instead of in-text citations (like for law review), then do not italicize the “Hawaii.” Dave v. Hawaii
- Also, if it’s a footnote instead of a textual citation, and “Hawaii” is only part of the name of one of the parties, then you want to abbreviate it. But you don’t abbreviate it HI, you dum-dum. You abbreviate it “Haw.” Dave v. Haw. Pac. Fisheries
- But, if you’re doing a footnote and “Hawaii” is the full name of one of the parties, then you do not abbreviate it! Why would you abbreviate it, dummy? Dave v. Hawaii
I’ve probably left something out. But you get the point, right? Six rules in constant tension with each other, arbitrarily applied by situation, AND WE HAVE SO FAR ONLY DISCUSSED STATE NAMES USED WITHIN COURT CASES.
Here’s another fun abbreviation “rule”: when dating something in a citation using a month name, you abbreviate that name down to the first three letters (Jan., Feb., Mar., etc.). EXCEPT for May (makes sense; there’s only three letters there), June and July (makes some sense; you’d only be omitting one letter. However, one might argue that a sensible rule would be standardized. One might aver that a rule, in fact, is only a rule if it applies across cases. If there are significant exceptions (like, for more than one fourth of all instances) then the rule isn’t really a rule at all. It’s a haphazard arrangement of ad hoc measures), and then we get to SEPTEMBER, WHICH IS ABBREVIATED SEPT. WTF THAT IS JUST UNBEARABLY STUPID WHO CAME UP WITH THAT EVEN I MEAN MY GOD IN HEAVEN BWAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHA HAHA HAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHA . . .
. . . Oh god I’m choking . . .
Oh, and that reminds me of one other thing worth sharing (well, honestly, there are over 500 pages in the Bluebook, each replete with its own set of inanities and each well worth sharing in its own right. But you’d have to know some other things in order to even make sense of all the foolishness, so it’d be biting off more than I could chew to try to talk about the nonsense in a comprehensive way). Ellipses! I’ve used Bluebook ellipses here, meaning that each ellipsis is a set of three periods with a space before and after each period. You know how every word processor will create a special-character ellipsis for you if you type three dots in a row? (Like this: … See how it’s different from this: . . . ) Well, pal, that special-character ellipsis is AWRONG according to the Bluebook. Why would you even think it would be OK to do that, stupid? Jeez.
And here's the thing: your legal writing professors and the students who run the Law Review at your school will, depending on their level of depravity, wield the Bluebook against you like a blunt instrument. Now, you may get lucky (both of my legal writing professors have been very cool about “Bluebooking” (ugh I hate that word)), but then again you may not. But I wanted you to know what’s out there.
Hours for the week: 11.5 AND I SPENT ALL OF THEM COMPLETING THE BLUEBOOK EXAM PORTION OF THE LAW REVIEW WRITE-ON (we were on Spring Break last week).
Questions? Comments? Complaints? Post them below, or shoot me an email.
Be good to one another, for we need it now more than maybe ever,
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