Correctly formatting legal citations, the standard language used by lawyers and legal scholars to refer to legal authorities with sufficient precision so that others can follow the references, can be a tedious and time consuming process. First, you need to copy the quoted material, the case name, abbreviate parts of the names as required, determine the correct font and then make sure that you have the pinpoint page number. Now, CiteGenie, a new extension for Firefox, can help you to create Bluebook formatted pinpoint citations when copying from Westlaw. Lexis functionality is coming soon. The product is a plug-in that currently works in Firefox 1.5 through 3.0.x. A version for Internet Explorer 6.x is in development.
Installing the plug-in is very simple. Once you do so, a new option is added to the browser’s right-click menu to “Copy with CiteGenie.” To use CiteGenie, simply highlight the text in the court opinion from Westlaw, right-click and select the “Copy with CiteGenie” option (or just press Ctrl-Shift-C). Then you can paste the text into any other program, such as your word processor, and the text will be pasted, along with the pinpoint citation for the selected text from the court opinion. See the illustrated example on the CiteGenie page.
What’s interesting about CiteGenie is that it allows users to select the jurisdiction where they are publishing and then correctly formats the citation to match the requirements of the jurisdiction in which it is published. For example, a common problem in creating correct citations is citing a case where the state is a party. When writing a brief to a court in your state and citing a case in which your state is a party, your state is (usually) referred to as “State” in the case name. To another state’s court, or to a federal court, that state is referred to by its name (e.g., “Georgia”).
Using 284 Ga. App. 660, CiteGenie cited it for a Florida brief as:
Ga. Pub. Defender Standards Council v. Georgia, 644 S.E.2d 510 (Ga. Ct. App. 2007)
It cited that case for a Georgia brief as:
Ga. Pub. Defender Standards Council v. State, 284 Ga. App. 660, 644 S.E.2d 510 (2007)
Thanks to Marc Hershovitz for his Review of CiteGenie published on October 13 on LLRX.