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Letter dated March 14, 1997 from Charles R. Fulbruge III , Clerk of the Court, United States Court of Appeals, For the Fifth Circuit
See HyperLaw Letter to Clerk, Fifth Circuit Circuit Re ABA Citation Proposal, March 28, 1997.
Charles R. Fulbruge III
United States Court of Appeals
For the Fifth Circuit
March 7, 1997
Appellate Court and Circuit Administration Division
ATTN: ABA Citation Resolution
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
Washington, D.C. 20544
In August 1996, the American Bar Association (ABA) approved a
resolution made by its Special Committee on Citation Issues calling
for state and federal courts to develop a standard citation system
and recommending a format that could be used by state and federal
courts. That resolution would require courts to identify the citation
on each decision at the time the decision is made available to the
public. The standard form of citation, for a decision in a federal
court of appeals, should include the year of the decision, the court,
the decision number, the paragraph number where the material referred
to is located and the parallel citation.
This office opposes the ABA resolution. We see no need to introduce a new sequential decision number into the operations of this court. To create the ABA proposed "standard" form of citation would require additional work at several levels. Initially, we would have to:
1. Devise and coordinate with our judges a means for assigning the sequential decision numbers;
2. Create or modify existing AIMS events for the decision number to be included in the AIMS database;
3. Devise a means of answering inquiries from the public seeking information on the new decision number assigned;
4. Create and maintain a permanent cross reference between the docket number and the opinion number;
5. Train employees to answer inquiries from the Court and the bar on the newly established procedures.
Several of the above tasks would also have to be preformed in a daily basis. We estimate an opinion clerk would have to spend an additional five minutes per opinion to assign a decision number and docket the appropriate information in AIMS. We also estimate another five minutes per opinion for the authoring judge's staff to number the paragraphs of the opinions. Our biggest concern is the time clerk's office personnel will spend answering inquiries from the public regarding gaps in decision numbers, if for example an opinion is withdrawn, requesting citations, and requesting the full case information when all they have available is a citation.
Now that virtually all the circuit courts' opinions are available on the Internet, there is a great public access to the court's decisions. At least in this court, our opinions are identifiable by case number, court and date of decision,, e.g. Smith v. Jones, No. 97-10113 (5th Cir. Mar. 7, 1997). We question why we would want to invest time and money in the ABA proposed form, when it imposes a burden on this court with no perceptible benefit.
Charles R. Fulbruge III