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Legal Citations

How to read a Citation

Court Cases Citations

Court cases are cited in a uniform format, beginning with the name of the parties (usually in italics or underlined) followed by the volume number of the reporter, the abbreviated name of the reporter, the page number, and the date of the decision (in parentheses).  This is true for reported cases, cases which have been collected, bound, and published in a reporter.  Cases which have not been given pagination because they are very recent or unreported cases are usually only found through an online service, such as  Bloomberg Law, Lexis/Nexis, LoisLaw, or Westlaw Next.  These opinions have a similar format, but yet it is not exactly the same.  Examples of citations to reported cases follow:


United States v. Grubbs, 547 U.S. 90 (2006)


United States v. Grubbs, 547 U.S. 90 (2006)


This citation tells you that this case will be found in Volume 574 of United States Reports starting at page 90, and the case was decided in 2006.  This is known as a short citation.

Some citations will have a 2d or 3d  after the abbreviation for the reporter, this indicates the series.  The first series for Federal Reporter, the Federal Supplement, and all of the Regional Reporters stopped at Volume 299, before starting over with Volume 1.  The following series end at Volume 999, before starting over at Volume 1.