Case Citation

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Case Citation in California

The party (for example, in a brief) should include the name of the case you are citing, the year it was decided, the volume and page number of the official reporter where the case appears, and the page number in the case that specifically supports the proposition of law the party is stating. For example, in a California Supreme Court case, “20 Cal.3th” refers to volume 20 of the third series of the Official California Reports,
which is the official reporter for California Supreme Court opinions. The “1129” refers to the page in volume 20 where the case starts. The
“1132” is the page number of the case you are referring to in the brief. Similarly, in a California Court of Appeal case, the “102 Cal.App.3th” refers to volume 102 of the third series of Official California Appellate Reports, which is the official reporter for California Court of Appeal opinions.

Federal court citations follow the same general format. United States Supreme Court cases can be found in three separate reporters:

  • the United States Supreme Court Reporter (abbreviated U.S.),
  • the Supreme Court Reporter (abbreviated S. Ct.), or
  • the Lawyer’s Edition Reporter (abbreviated L.Ed.).

The party may cite to any of these reporters.

For other federal courts, the citation should identify which federal circuit or district court decided the case. In Federal circuit court cases, for example, “8th Cir.” indicates that the case was decided by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and “F.2d” refers to the second series of the Federal Reporter.

“N .D.Cal.” indicates that the case was decided by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, and “F.Supp.2d” refers to the second series of the Federal Supplement Reporter.

For cases from other states, the party will need to cite to the National Reporter System, regional reporter or the state’s official reporter. The party should identify which state court decided the case in his or her citation. For example:

  • “P.2d” refers to the second series of the Pacific regional reporter.
  • “A.3d” refers to the third series of the Atlantic regional reporter.

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