November 12th, 2018 By David L. Plaut

A Foolish Consistency?  Cite Form Hobgoblins and the Texas Rules of Form

Wayne Schiess, Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas Center for Legal Research, Writing, and Appellate Advocacy, welcomes the new edition of the Texas Rules of Form – The Greenbook as an improvement over previous editions.  See Schiess, The New Greenbook, 27 Austin Lawyer at 15 (November 2018).  Schiess notes the Texas Law Review editors in charge of the 14th edition were determined to improve The Greenbook and so they created an extensive online survey to canvass Texas lawyers of all sorts.  Id. 

A couple changes should be of interest even if you’re not a former law review editor:

  • No More “Tex. Civ. App.” Citations to all intermediate appellate decisions in Texas are now abbreviated “Tex. App.” and not “Tex. Civ. App.”  Before September 1, 1981, intermediate courts in Texas had no criminal jurisdiction and were cited as “Tex. Civ. App.”  The Greenbook has done away with this distinction as archaic and unhelpful.
  • Publisher and Year Irrelevancy. A pet peeve of mine, and so glad to see this change.  When citing a Texas statute, the Greenbook no longer requires a parenthetical containing the publisher – like West of Vernon’s – and the copyright year.  About time.
  • Still Waiting on Westlaw Citation Change. The convention for citation of unpublished opinions still includes notation of name of the case, docket number, database identifier, name of the court, and the date the case was decided, including month, day, and year. Here’s an example:

RRB Land Invs., Ltd. v. Harris County Appraisal Dist., No. 01–09–00519–CV, 2010 WL 1729390 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] Apr. 29, 2010, no pet.)

It’s always bugged me that the cite form requires the docket number and month and day the case was decided.  That information is completely irrelevant in the ordinary case to any question of data retrieval.  You simply don’t need that information to get ahold of the case on Westlaw and that should be all that matters.  As a result, the cite form I use is as follows:

RRB Land Invs., Ltd. v. Harris County Appraisal Dist., 2010 WL 1729390 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] 2010, no pet.).

Maybe the Greenbook will make this change at some point in the future.  Nothing foolish about that consistency!