Five years after the 20th edition was published, the Bluebook’s 21st edition is now available. That development affects military appellate practitioners, as CAAF Rule 37(c)(2) provides, with commendable simplicity: “Citations shall conform with the Uniform System of Citation.” ACCA Rule 17.1(c), on the other hand, states: “Citations must conform to the style prescribed in the current editions of the U.S. Army Court of Appeals Citation Guide, the Judge Advocate General’s School Military Citation Guide, and The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, published and distributed by the Harvard Law Review Association.” Unhelpfully, the link to “Army Court Citation Guide” on ACCA’s website is inoperable. AFCCA Rule 17.1(a) directs: “Citations in filings shall conform to [the] current version of the U. S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals Citation Guide and the most recent edition of THE BLUEBOOK: A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF CITATION (Columbia Law Review Ass’n et al.).” The AFCCA citation guide is available on the court’s website. The CGCCA rules don’t appear to address citation style. If I’m overlooking something in those rules, please let me know. Finally, NMCCA Rule 17.2 provides: “Citation form and writing style for appellate filings shall conform to the current edition of the Uniform System of Citation (‘Bluebook’), U.S. Government Publishing Office Style Manual, and The Chicago Manual of Style, in that order of precedence. Once available, the citation form and writing style prescribed in the Manual of Uniform Citation and Legal Style for the Military Courts (‘PurpleBook’)—which is based on the foregoing—shall take precedence over all other citation and style guides.” The PurpleBook? Does anyone know its status?
The Bluebook’s 21st edition is more svelte than its predecessor; it comes in at only 365 pages, compared to the 560-page 20th edition. Much of the reduction comes from exiling Table 2 – Foreign Jurisdictions – to a free online page.
One significant change is practitioners now have the option of citing case reporters’ names without a space where Bluebook rules would otherwise require one. B6. So, for example, West’s Supreme Court Reporter may be cited as either “S.Ct.” or the more traditional “S. Ct.” The “compilers” tell use this change was made to “address word limit constraints in court documents.” Judges everywhere are likely cursing that rule change.
Another change significant for military justice practitioners is that citations to the U.S. Code no longer require a date. Rule 12.3.2. This will help when citing the current version of the oft-amended Uniform Code of Military Justice. Practitioners can easily find the current edition of U.S. Code sections on the Office of the Law Revision Counsel’s website, currently updated through 8/8/2020.
The portion of the Bluebook’s Table 1 addressing citation of military appellate court decisions remains unchanged. The 21st edition continues to misidentify the old Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company’s Court-Martial Reports as “Court Martial Reports.” And one curious omission remains. While providing citation styles for CAAF, CMA, the CCAs, the CMRs, and the Boards of Review, the Bluebook ignores the existence of the Court of Military Commission Review.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of DoD or anyone else.
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