If you practice law in California, you will surely have seen briefs containing citations where the case name is underlined and those where the case name is italicized. Which style is correct? Although California is known for its laid back culture, citation is not purely up to the writer’s personal taste. Underlined case names should remind you of the Blue Book from law school. Italicized case names are prescribed by the California Style Manual, which served as the official guide for documents filed in California state courts until the adoption of California Rule of Court 1.200 on January 1, 2008.
California Rule of Court 1.200 states:
Citations to cases and other authorities in all documents filed in the courts must be in the style established by either the California Style Manual or The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, at the option of the party filing the document. The same style must be used consistently throughout the document.
Although Rule 1.200 now permits use of the California Style Manual or Blue Book style of citation in documents filed in California courts, some courts prefer the continued use of the style set forth in the California Style Manual. You can ask the department clerk if the Court has a preference or look up the Court’s previous opinions to see which style it uses.
Examples of California Style Manual citations:
Waller v. Truck Ins. Exchange, Inc. (1995) 11 Cal.4th 1
Bush v. Gore (2000) 531 U.S. 98
Examples of Blue Book citations:
Waller v. Truck Ins. Exchange, Inc., 900 P.2d 619 (Cal. 1995)
Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000)
Personally, I prefer the citation style of the California Style Manual. I find italicized text easier on the eyes than underlined text.