Universal Citation and State Codes

Vox PopuLII is the blog of the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School.  Their recent entry about  Universal Citation for State Codes discusses citation from the perspective of free and open access to state statutes.  The argument is that if courts require citations to official, print versions of state codes, then the availability of  free online codes will not meet the needs of litigants with limited resources.

By requiring parties to cite to an official published version of a statutory code, the courts are effectively restricting participants in the legal research market. Nowhere is this more evident than in those states where the government has delegated the publishing of the official code to a private publisher, as is the situation in more than half of the states.  Thus, even if the state itself or another company, such as Justia, publishes the law online for free, a brief cannot cite to these versions of the code.

The discussion here uses the term “universal citation” which corresponds to a set of proposed standards developed by the American Association of Law Libraries.  You may be more familiar with the term “public domain” citation which is used by the Bluebook.

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