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William C. Altreuter
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Monday, May 19, 2014

One of the first things you learn about when you go to law school is The Blue Book: A Uniform System of Citation. It is compiled by the Harvard Law Review Association, the Columbia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal, and is what it says it is: a form book for proper legal citation. "Bluebook style" is fancy-pants slang for "the way law reviews cite things". The Supreme Court doesn't use it-- it has it's own set of citation forms-- but a lot of judges do, and insisting on Bluebook format is the way lawyers with a stick up their asses establish that they have sticks up their asses  were on the magazine when they were in law school. The University of Chicago uses the simplified "Maroonbook", which Outside Counsel prefers. Proceeds from the sale of Bluebooks-- which pretty much every incoming law student buys-- go to the law reviews of Harvard, Columbia, Penn and Yale, so right there is a reason to hate it. Recently an attempt was made to add Bluebook form to an open source software system-- and shot down, kinda. It's an interesting story. There's a lot more of this sort of thing that goes on than you might think. A lot of building codes, and even municipal codes are "proprietary". We recently had a matter that involved a question of what the standard was for the placement of electrical wiring over a driveway. The Code for the municipality referenced a national standard, but finding an official citation to the standard, which was necessary to quote it to the court, required paying a fee to the publisher. In other words, if you want to know what the law is, you gotta buy the book. That is messed up.

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