Courts are citing to blogs in their opinions with greater frequency. By the end of 2010, nearly 300 state and federal judicial opinions contained citations to blogs. In my previous post, Parallel Citations to Internet Sources, I explained citation to sources on the Internet that are also found in traditional media. This post addresses citation to sources found exclusively on the Internet, specifically–blogs.
Debating whether blogs are becoming or have already become authorities is an exercise in futility. Law students, law professors, lawyers, and others will continue to blog. Judges and their clerks will continue to read and be influenced by blog posts, and blogs will be cited in judicial opinions.*
Numerous style manuals have been published, but because my focus is legal citation in court documents, I will address citation to blogs according to the 19th edition of The Bluebook. Here are two examples of direct citations to Internet sources according to Bluebook Rule 18.2.2 followed by a breakdown of their parts:
Citation to a blog post:
Douglas A. Berman, Another Puzzling Report on Federal Child Porn Sentence, Sent’g L. & Pol’y, Oct. 7, 2008, http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2008/10/another-puzzlin.html.
Citation to a blog comment:
Daniel, Comment to Another Puzzling Report on Federal Child Porn Sentence, Sent’g L. & Pol’y, Oct. 7, 2008, http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2008/10/another-puzzlin.html.
Type the author’s name. But if you are citing to a comment to a blog post, list the commenter’s username.
Douglas A. Berman
2. Blog Post Title
Italicize the blog post title. When citing to a comment, include “Comment to” in normal typeface before the blog post title. Bluebook Rule 18.2.2 (b) states, “All efforts should be made to include a title that sufficiently identifies the page but that is not unwieldy, long, uninformative, or confusing.”
Another Puzzling Report on Federal Child Porn Sentence
Comment to Another Puzzling Report on Federal Child Porn Sentence
3. Blog Title
Type the blog title while keeping capitalization as it appears on the blog. Bluebook Rule 18.2.2 (b)(i) also states that blog titles should be abbreviated according to its table of periodical abbreviations (T13).
[I disagree with The Bluebook's position on abbreviating blog titles. I believe that they should be typed precisely as authors have them on their blogs.]
Sent’g L. & Pol’y (All four words in the title are found in T13 and abbreviated accordingly.)
vodzaklegal (Blog does not capitalize the first letter of the title.)
4. Date and Time
Using the appropriate abbreviation for the month (see Bluebook Table T12), provide the date of the specific blog post. Or, if you are citing to a comment, list the date of the comment instead.
Oct. 7, 2008
Provide the URL to the specific page on which the blog post can be found. (See Bluebook Rule 18.2.2 (d) for more information.)
The 19th edition of The Bluebook includes several changes regarding citation to Internet sources, but more improvements can be made. Consult the citation manual for more details about specific citation issues that you may encounter.
*For further reading, see Lee F. Peoples’ 2010 article, The Citation of Blogs in Judicial Opinions, which was published in the Tulane Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property.