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« Texas Supreme Court weekly orders (1/24/14) | Main | Texas Supreme Court Orders and Opinions (1/31/14) »

Jan 28, 2014


Brian Larson

I've done a short post on my blog suggesting that there is an alternative to in-line cites vs. footnote cites, though I admit it's not likely to be accepted. See:

Rob Gilbreath

Thanks, Rich. I agree completely. I've also given up on Garner's "deep issue" format for issues presented.


I agree with everything you said except point five. The fact that some judges use footnotes – at least to me – signals that they don’t get that there is a problem with looking up and down at the footnotes, i.e. it is really annoying to do so, and ignores the problem that almost everyone reads (or soon will read) on a computer screen, further complicating the problem of reading the footnoted material. The issue in five is just more evidence that footnotes should be abolished, or at least limited in number and content to almost parenthetical asides instead of anything of importance like a citation.

Maybe you can write a nice letter to the editor with your five points so that hopefully enough people will chime in to stop that well-intentioned nonsense. But my annoyance at having to go up and down on the screen probably results in a little hyperbole in calling the footnote movement well-intentioned nonsense.

Rich Phillips


I appreciate you pointing out the Fifth Circuit-specific reasons for using textual citations. I think it also emphasizes the point that the most important consideration is the audience (judges and law clerks). If we annoy them or make it harder for them to see an important part of the argument, then we are doing our case and our clients a disservice.


Ray Ward

Bryan’s idea is fine for briefs read on paper, but it doesn’t work so well for briefs read on an iPad, for reasons you state well. I’ll add this one, at least for U.S. 5th Circuit briefs: The clerk’s office uses software that converts all the legal and record citations into hyperlinks. Legal citations are hyperlinked to Lexis or Westlaw, and record citations are hyperlinked to the electronic record. So as a briefwriter, I want to put that hyperlink where the judge can most easily use it.

Jenny K

I couldn't agree more. As a staff attorney for an appellate judge, it annoys me to no end to get briefs with footnoted citations. They are hard to read, because I want to know immediately the source of the cite--is it a higher court, our court, a sister court, etc., how old is the opinion, what is the petition or subsequent history. Jumping back and forth is very distracting, particularly when we are moving toward a paperless system and I am reading the briefs on the computer.

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