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LRAW Research Fall 2022

Citing State Statutes Generally

The Bluebook

For instructions on how to cite to a state statute generally, see Rule B12.1.2 in the blue pages located in the front of The Bluebook. The blue pages are designed for practitioners and law clerks to use in legal documents. Practitioners also may refer to the white pages that follow for more specific details on topics such as citing to multiple sections of a statute (see Rule 3.3(b)). Remember, however, that The Bluebook's white pages are designed for academic publications such as law review articles, so the examples there will be in the academic format.

State Codes

The correct form of citation for state codes varies by state. Various tables are provided after the white pages in The Bluebook. Table 1.3 in The Bluebook lists each state alphabetically and under "Statutory compilations" shows how to abbreviate the name and correctly cite that state code.

 

Official State Codes

According to Bluebook Rule B12.1.2, whenever possible, you must cite to the current official code or its supplement.  Although state codes are accessible electronically, for most states, including South Carolina, the official state code is the print version.  Therefore, to cite the correct year for a South Carolina statute, you must consult a print version of the Code.

Citing South Carolina Statutes

According to Table 1.3 in The Bluebook, the proper citation to a South Carolina statute includes the title, chapter, section, and the year of the volume and/or supplement where it is published in the South Carolina Code Annotated NOT the year the law was passed/enacted.

To determine which year to include in the citation to a state statute, cite to where the current text of the statute is published, which will be either:

  • the main volume of the code; or
  • the supplement to that volume of the code; or
  • both the main volume and its supplement.

(Bluebook Rule 12.3.2).

Main Volume
If the current text of the statute is published in the main volume and not the supplement for a title of the South Carolina Code Annotatedcite to the year of the main volume only
              

When citing to the year of the main volume:

  1.  Use the revision date on the spine of the volume.
  2. If there is no revision date on the spine of the volume:
    •  use the volume's title page,
    • or the latest copyright year, in that order of preference.

(Bluebook Rule 12.3.2).

For example, the statute below which addresses appeals from orders, judgments, or decrees of the family court, is published in title 63, chapter 3, section 630 of the South Carolina Code Annotated. 

South Carolina Code Annotated, Title 63, has a revision date of 2010, at the top of the spine of the book.

South Carolina Code Annotated volume containing Title 63 with a 2010 revision date, next to statute section 63-3-630 entitled Appeals.

The proper Bluebook citation for this statute is:

S.C. Code Ann. § 63-3-630 (2010).

The citation includes 2010 for the year because the statute is published in its entirety in the main volume for Title 63 of the South Carolina Code Annotated, which was revised in 2010. No portion of the statute appears in the supplement to that volume.

Even if additional research references like cases or secondary sources appear in the supplement to the main volume, as long as there is no new or revised statutory text, you still cite the year of the main volume only. 

For example, the supplement page below contains a reference to a 2016 case, but no statutory text under the entry for § 63-3-630. Therefore you cite to 2010, the revision year of the main volume, not the year of the supplement.

Entry for statute section 63-3-630 in the supplement to the main Title 63 volume, including no statutory text, only one 2016 case under Notes of Decisions.

Supplement
The entire statute may appear in the supplement to the main volume containing a particular title of the South Carolina Code Annotated if:

  • the new statute was passed after the main volume was last revised; or

  • an existing statute was amended after the main volume was last revised and then re-published in its entirety in the supplement.

‚ÄčIn either case, you would cite only the supplement for the year of the statute, e.g., (Supp. 2020).

Both Main Volume & Supplement

Sometimes only the amended parts are published in a volume's supplement, leaving the original text to be found only in the main volume. In that case, language in the supplement should direct you to the main volume to read the other parts of the statute.

Below is an example of the South Carolina statute outlining the exclusive jurisdiction of the family court: § 63-3-530(A) entitled Jurisdiction in domestic matters. In this example from the 2020 cumulative supplement to the main Title 63 volume, which was last revised in 2010, only the amended subsection 17 is published in the 2020 supplement. However, notice the notation to "[See main volume for text of (1) to (16)]."

               Entry for statute section 63-3-530(A)(17) in the supplement to the main Title 63 volume, which includes a notation to see the main volume for the text of (1) to (16).

To properly Bluebook cite the complete statute above (§ 63-3-530(A)), since reviewing the entire statute requires looking in both places, you would need to include both the revision date on the spine of the main volume (2010) and the date of the supplement (Supp. 2020), as shown below:

S.C.CodeAnn.§63-3-530(A)(2010&Supp.2020).

To cite to subsection 16 only (§ 63-3-530(A)(16)), cite to the main volume:

                                S.C.CodeAnn.§63-3-530(A)(16)(2010).

To cite to subsection 17 only (§ 63-3-530(A)(17)), cite to the supplement:

S.C.CodeAnn.•§63-3-530(A)(17)(Supp.2020).

Spacing
The Bluebook has very specific rules governing spacing in citations. According to Rule 6.1(a), when spacing abbreviations close up the space between adjacent capital letters like S.C. for South Carolina. However, leave the space on either side of a longer abbreviation like Ann. for Annotated. Rule 6.2(c) also requires a space between a section symbol (§) and the numeral. The blue "bullet" symbols in the citation examples above indicate where a space should appear.

 Also, always include a period at the end of a stand-alone citation sentence.

State Citation Rules
In addition to The Bluebook, states may have their own citation rules.  South Carolina Appellate Court Rule 268 governs the citation of South Carolina statutes and other authorities. It is available via the Court Rules link on the South Carolina Judicial Branch website.

Citing Other State Statutes

Table 1.3 in The Bluebook designates the official version of each state's code with the note "Cite to _ , if therein." You may, however, have to cite to a version of a state code that is not the official state code.

Table 1.3 shows you how to cite the official and unofficial versions by state. For example, the official code for West Virginia is the West Virginia Code, which The Bluebook says to cite to, if therein.  However, our law library subscribes to the unofficial Michie's West Virginia Code Annotated, published by LexisNexis.  You can cite to that print code, but The Bluebook requires you to include the publisher along with the year of the publication.

On the other hand, according to Table 1.3 of The Bluebook, you may cite to either Michie's or West's Maryland Code Annotated.

For states like Maryland that organize and cite their statutes by topic, the abbreviations for those topics are included with that state’s listing in Table 1.3. Another interesting note about citing to the Maryland Code is that  you include a comma after "Ann." 

Below are examples of citations to other state statutes: 

Georgia
Ga. Code Ann. § 16-3-3 (2011).
Ga. Code Ann. § 16-1-12 (Supp. 2020).

Maryland
Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 1-201 (LexisNexis 2012).
Md. Code Ann., Bus. Reg. § 11-819 (West Supp. 2020).

North Carolina
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-114 (2017).
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-205.2 (Supp. 2020).

Virginia
Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-415 (2014).
Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-371 (Supp. 2020).

West Virginia
W. Va. Code Ann. § 61-2-4 (LexisNexis 2014).
W. Va. Code Ann. § 61-2-9 (LexisNexis Supp. 2020).

 

Because states may have their own rules, it is also important to be aware of any local rules or practices regarding citation. For example, The Bluebook directs you to abbreviate Georgia's Official Code of Georgia Annotated as Ga. Code Ann. However, according to section 1-1-8 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, the Georgia code "may be cited or referred to as 'O.C.G.A.'"  Therefore, if you practice in Georgia, it is correct to cite to O.C.G.A. rather than Ga. Code Ann.