How To Effectively Cite Authority: Tips from a Judge

How you include legal citations in a motion’s supporting memorandum can make the difference between being successfully persuasive and losing credibility. Here is citation advice from the Honorable W.F. Rylaarsdam, retired Justice of the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District, adapted from an article he wrote for CEB: Choose authorities strategically. The principle of “the more the merrier” doesn’t apply to the citation to authorities. Select your authorities carefully. If there’s one reported decision that clearly applies to the facts of your case, cite it; don’t bury it among six other citations. The judge may very well wish to read that case, but he or she will rarely have the time to read through a long list of cases to find the one that really matters. Similarly, long quotations are rarely useful and they detract from the flow of your argument. Connect your facts to the law. Well-drafted memos interweave the facts of the case…

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