How to Cite a Rule

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Citing a rule is one of the most important and often overlooked parts of preparing legal paperwork. It is important because the reader, usually a judge, must be able to find that rule and confirm that it was correctly presented. Although the format of a rule citation is fairly uniform, some judges do have citation preferences that should be used when possible. Call the judge's clerk before filing your paperwork and ask whether the judge has his or her own citation style.

  • Write an abbreviated form of the code from which the rule is cited. Generally, the word "Code" is not abbreviated, although "C." may be used. If citing a state statute, write the abbreviation for the name of the state before the code. For example, if citing the California Penal Code, the citation could begin with "Cal. Pen. Code" or as "Cal. Pen. C."

  • Write one section symbol after the name of the code. If citing more than one rule, use two symbols. A section is designated by the "§" symbol. For example, if citing one statute from the California Penal Code, the citation would appear as "Cal. Pen. Code §." If citing more than one rule, the citation would appear as "Cal. Pen. Code §§."

  • Write the section number of the code after the section symbol, followed by a period. For example, if citing section 187 of the California Penal Code, the citation would read: "Cal. Pen. Code §187." If citing more than one section, and the sections appear in consecutive order, write the number of the first code section and the number of the last cited code section, then separate the code sections with a hyphen. For example, if citing California Penal Code sections 187, 188 and 189, the citation would read: "Cal. Pen. Code §§187-189. Separate code sections that do not appear consecutively with commas. For example, if citing sections 187, 190 and 234, the citation would read "Cal. Pen. Code §§187, 190, 234.

References

  • "ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation;" Darby Dickerson; 2003
  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images
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