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The Never Ending Debate Over Citational Footnotes, by Raymond Ward, the (new) legal writer


Mr. Ward gives us a brief overview in these two paragraphs. In the remainder of his post, Mr. Ward expands on his variations for citations in footnotes and the preferences of Fifth Circuit judges  I mean no disrespect to Mr. Garner, but if Mr. Ward gives advice on legal writing, I pay attention. -CCE

Who would have thought that, for over 13 years now, the most controversial subject among litigation-oriented legal writers would be the location of legal citations in footnotes versus in text? Back in the spring of 2001, a judge in an intermediate Louisiana appellate court, in writing the majority’s opinion in a case, put her legal citations in footnotes. This drew a concurring opinion from the chief judge (withdrawn before final publication), agreeing with the result but objecting to the use of footnotes for citations. So the author wrote her own concurring opinion defending her use of footnotes. The case is Ledet v. Seasafe, Inc., 783 So. 2d 611 (La. App. 3 Cir. 2001). The controversy stirred up by Ledet caught the attention of the New York Times. Here is my own little casenote on Ledet.

Fast-forward 13 years. Bryan Garner writes an article for the ABA Journal recommending the use of footnotes for legal citations—a position he’s held since I took my first Garner seminar in 1998. His fellow Texans Rich Phillips and Jason Steed write blog posts begging to differ. Different decade, pretty much the same debate.