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Answered By: Suzanne Schriefer, Criminal Justice & Paralegal Librarian
Last Updated: Mar 07, 2016     Views: 2723

APA defers to the "Bluebook," a popular legal citation style, when citing legal cases. The format for citing a case follows this format:

Reference list citation for a U.S. Supreme Court Decision:

Name v. Name, Volume Source Page (Date).

Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

In-Text citation:

Name v. Name (Date)

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

 

Understanding the meaning of "Writ of Certiorari" can be helpful when trying to determine how to cite a case waiting to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Also, understanding the process involved in bringing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court is also helpful.

The U.S. Supreme Court has the right to accept or deny cases.  Parties wishing to have the Supreme Court rule on a case can petition the court through a Writ of Certiorari.  A writ is an order from a higher court to a lower court and the writ of certiorari is an order to send all documents associated with a case to the higher court.  Because the U.S. Supreme Court can be very selective about the cases that they will hear, they either grant the writ (meaning they will hear the case) or deny it.  This is recorded in the U.S. Reporter, the official reporter of the U.S. Supreme Court as well as other commercial reporters such as U.S. Supreme Court Reporter and Lawyers Edition 2d.

Using FastCase, a legal database available through the Online Library, to find the case is one way to find the needed information to create a citation.  You can access FastCase by clicking on the Resources tab in any online class, then clicking on the link "Search e-Resources."  Scroll through the alphabetical list of databases until you find FastCase.

FastCase defaults to "Quick Caselaw Search."  Type the name of the case in the textbox at the top of the page and click Search.

King v. Maryland appears in the results page.  Note that the first entry is the actual opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Click on the title of the case to view the opinion in full text.

Once the opinion is displayed, view the panel on the left side of the page to see other cases with the same or similar case names.  In this example, there are three "Maryland v. King" cases.

Click on the titles of each of these cases to read the ruling of the court.  Also, ensure that case names are identical!

The third case is where the "cert. granted" is recorded.  The citation information needed to create the APA citation is available here.