University of Wisconsin–Madison

WI Court of Appeals Sanctions Attorney for Sloppy Citation, a.k.a. The Importance of Proper Bluebook Citation

An unpublished opinion by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reveals what can happen if you don't adhere to proper Bluebook form.  In Espitia v. Fouche the court imposed a  $100 sanction on counsel for a seriously messed up citation.  From the opinion at 2008 WI App 160:

FN5. Counsel for Espitia cites to an unpublished case assertedly upholding a stipulated damages clause due to the difficulty of ascertaining "the exact amount of income certain vending machines would produce." The cite provided is " Buellesbach v. Roob, 2005 AP 160 (Ct.App.Dist.I)."

Buellesbach indeed is unpublished but it has nothing to do with liquidated damage clauses or vending machines; it is a misrepresentation case brought by newlyweds against a wedding photographer.

Also, "2005 AP 160" is the docket number, which we discovered only after reaching a dead end at 2005 WI App 160, 285 Wis.2d 472, 702 N.W.2d 433.

At last we located the unpublished case that addresses the subject matter for which counsel cited Buellesbach: Stansfield Vending, Inc. v. Osseo Truck Travel Plaza, LLC, 2003 WI App 201, 267 Wis.2d 280, 670 N.W.2d 558. Different name, different citation, different district (District IV) but, as promised, unpublished.  [emphasis added]

It is a violation of Wis. Stat. Rule 809.19(1)(e) to provide citations which do not conform to the Uniform System of Citation and of Wis. Stat. Rule 809.23(3) to cite to unpublished opinions. One reason may be that they can be time-consuming to locate.

A $100 penalty is imposed against Espitia's counsel. See Hagen v. Gulrud, 151 Wis.2d 1, 8, 442 N.W.2d 570 (Ct.App.1989).

If you are having trouble crafting or interpreting citations in Bluebook form, stop by the reference desk for assistance.

Source: Law Librarian Blog

Submitted by Bonnie Shucha on October 23, 2009

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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