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Legal citation is the practice of crediting and referring to authoritative documents and sources. The most common sources of authority cited are court decisions (cases), statutes, regulations, government documents, treaties, and scholarly writing.
Typically, a proper legal citation will inform the reader about a source's authority, how strongly it supports the writer's proposition, its age, and other, relevant information. This is an example citation to a United States Supreme Court court case:
Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 480 (1965).
This citation gives helpful information about the cited authority to the reader.
Concurring and dissenting opinions are also published alongside the Court's opinion. For example, to cite to the opinion in which Justices Stewart and Black dissent, the citation would appear as the following:
Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 527 (1965) (Stewart & Black, JJ., dissenting).
This citation is very similar to the citation to the Court's opinion. The two key differences are the pin cite, page 527 here, and the addition of the dissenting justices' names in a parenthetical following the date of the case.
Of course, legal citation in general and case citation in particular can become much more complicated.
During a legal proceeding, a 'legal citation analysis' - i.e. using citation analysis technique for analyzing legal documents - facilitates the better understanding of the inter-related regulatory compliance documents by the exploration the citations that connect provisions to other provisions within the same document or between different documents. Legal citation analysis uses a citation graph extracted from a regulatory document, which could supplement E-discovery - a process that leverages on technological innovations in big data analytics.
Some countries have a de facto citation standard that has been adopted by most of the country's institutions.
U. S. legal citation follows one of:
A number of U.S. states have adopted individual public domain citations standards.