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Reading Citations

Finding Cases and Statutes by Citation

Any reference to any primary law source – case or statute – has a citation. The basic format of a citation is standardized, and generally includes a volume number, an abbreviation of the title of the publication in which the law appears, a page or section number, and a date.

Cases

Court cases are often published by more than one publisher, so there can be more than one citation appearing after the name of the case. Usually the first citation given is to the official reports for a particular court, and is called the “official citation.” The official reports are printed by the publisher with which that court has contracted to distribute cases.

In California the official reports of California Supreme Court cases are published in the California Reports (1st – 5th series) and the official reports of Courts of Appeal cases are published in the California Appellate Reports (1st – 5th series).

The other citations given in a string are known as “unofficial” or “parallel” citations. The text of the opinion is the same in all sources, whether they are “official” or “unofficial.”

The following are examples of citations to the California Supreme Court and the California Court of Appeals’ cases.

California Supreme Court

California Court of Appeals

California Supreme Court cases have two parallel citations. The first is to the Pacific Reporter, and the second is to the California Reporter, which started in 1959. Court of Appeals cases have only one parallel citation, to the California Reporter.

California Statutes or United States Codes

The terms “statute” and “code” are often used interchangeably. There are two publishers of the annotated California Codes: West (now known as Thomson Reuters) and Deering (published by LexisNexis). The wording of the Codes is identical in either publication; the only difference is in the annotations that follow each section.

The following are examples of citations for California and United States Codes:


List of California Statutory Abbreviations

California codes contain state law (statutes) in 29 separate series, each covering a general topic (e.g. – Education, Insurance, etc.). Some legal citations use the full name of the code, while others use abbreviations.

Cal. Code Code Abbreviation
Business and Professions Bus. & Prof. or B&P
Civil Civ. or C.C.
Civil Procedure Civ.Proc. or C.C.P.
Commercial Com.
Corporations Corp.
Education Educ. or Ed.
Elections Elec.
Evidence Evid.
Family Fam.
Financial Fin.
Fish and Game Fish & Game
Food and Agricultural Food & Agric.
Government Gov’t.
Harbors and Navigation Harb. & Nav.
Health and Safety Health & Safety or H&S
Insurance Ins.
Labor Lab.
Military and veterans Mil. & Vet.
Penal Penal or P.C.
Probate Prob.
Public Contact Pub. Cont.
Public Resources Pub. Res.
Public Utilities Pub. Util.
Revenue and Taxation Rev. & Tax.
Streets and Highways Sts. & High.
Unemployment Insurance Unemp.Ins.
Vehicle Veh.
Water Water
Welfare and Institutions Welf. & Inst. or W&I

List of California Regulatory Abbreviations

California codifies its regulations in the California Code of Regulations, published by Barclays (Thomson Reuters). Like the statutes it is organized by topic, but the sections are referred to by title number instead of topic name. (Compare the statutory “Penal Code” or “PC §____” to the regulatory code on “Crime Prevention and Corrections,” cited as Title 15 or 15 CCR ___.)

Until 1987, the CCR was called the “California Administrative Code.” You will still see former title used in some infrequently-updated resources.

The California Building Standards Code, Title 24 of the CCR, serves as the basis for the design and construction of buildings in California. Due to copyright issues, it is distributed separately from the remainder of the CCR. It is maintained by the California Building Standards Commission.

Regulatory Term Abbreviations
California Code of Regulations CCR
California Administrative Code
(former title of CCR)
CAC
California Building Standards Code BSC or CCR Title 24
California Regulatory Notice Registry Z Register or NR

List of Common Abbreviations in Law

For legal abbreviations not listed, see: Prince’s Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations: a Reference Guide for Attorneys, Legal Secretaries, Paralegals, and Law Students KF 246 .B46.

Abbreviation Publication
A., A.2d, A.3d Atlantic Reporter, First, Second and Third Series
A.L.R., A.L.R. 2d , A.L.R. 3d, A.L.R. 4th, A.L.R. 5th, A.L.R. 6th, A.L.R. 7th American Law Reports: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Series
A.L.R. Fed, A.L.R. Fed 2d A.L.R. Fed 3d

American Law Reports, Federal; First, Second, and Third Series
Am. Jur., Am. Jur.2d American Jurisprudence, First and Second Series
C. or Cal. ,C.2d or Cal. 2d, C.3d or Cal. 3d, C.4th or Cal. 4th California Reports, First, Second, Third and Fourth Series
C.C.R., or Cal. Code Regs. California Code of Regulations
CEB Continuing Education of the Bar
C.J. Corpus Juris
C.J.S. Corpus Juris Secundum
CA or Cal. App; CA2d or Cal. App.2d; CA3d or Cal. App.3d; CA4th or Cal. App.4th; CA5th or Cal. App.5th California Appellate Reports, First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Series
Cal. Jur, Cal. Jur. 2d, Cal. Jur. 3d California Jurisprudence, First, Second and Third Series
Cal. Rptr., Cal. Rptr. 2d, Cal. Rptr. 3d California Reporter (West’s), First, Second and Third Series
C.F.R. Code of Federal Regulations
F., F.2d, F.3d Federal Reporter, First, Second and Third Series
Fed. Reg. Federal Register
F.R.D. Federal Rules Decisions
F. Supp., F. Supp. 2d
F. Supp. 3d
Federal Supplement, First, Second and Third Series
L. Ed., L. Ed. 2d Lawyers’ Edition, U.S. Supreme Court Reports, First and Second Series
N.E. & N.E.2d Northeastern Reporter, First and Second Series
N.W. & N.W.2d Northwestern Reporter, First and Second Series
P., P.2d, P.3d Pacific Reporter, First, Second, and Third Series
So., So. 2d, So. 3d Southern Reporter, First, Second, and Third Series
S.E. & S.E.2d Southeastern Reporter, First and Second Series
S.W., S.W.2d, S.W.3d Southwestern Reporter, First, Second and Third Series
S. Ct. Supreme Court Reports (West’s)
U.S. United States Reports
U.S.C. United States Code
U.S.C.A. United States Code Annotated (West’s)
U.S.C.S. United States Code Service (Lexis)
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