A recent article in the New York Law Journal features some basic rules for citing cases in a persuasive way.
The author, an attorney whose practice focuses primarily on motions and appeals, writes that you have to make every case you cite count, and that citing cases in the usual, dull way will not get your point across effectively.
Here are some of the tips he provides:
- Don’t waste time with lengthy citations discussing obvious legal points – The court doesn’t need to be told at great length what the standard is for granting summary judgment, for example.
- All decisions are not created equal – Avoid citing brief decisions that do little more than state a legal principle without any factual discussion. It is far more persuasive to cite fewer cases but focus on those in which the facts are similar to the facts of your case.
- Avoid block quotes from cases – Your argument will be more effective if you describe the cited case in your own words and then drive your point home with a carefully-selected brief quotation of the directly relevant language.
- Carefully read the cases you cite – Before citing a case, read it all the way through and make sure that you understand all of its implications. Also carefully read the cases that your adversary has cited, and if one of those cases actually supports your position, do not be shy about pointing that out to the court.
- Pay attention to citation style – Sloppy, careless or inconsistent citation style lessens the reader’s confidence in your document.
For more, click here for the full article.