APA Style for Citing Law Cases

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APA style was developed by the American Psychological Association as a set of rules to enable scientific writing to be read more smoothly with the inclusion of reputable facts. Law cases cited in APA style have a few minor differences dependent upon the court where the decision was made in the case with lower federal and state cases requiring more detail.

Supreme Court Cases

Supreme Court cases are formatted in APA style by first listing the name of the case followed by a period, then the U.S. Report volume number followed by the page number then a period and finally the year of the case in parentheses followed by a period. A sample citation would look like this: Gray v. Johnson. 234 U.S. 897. (2001).

Lower Federal Court Cases

As with Supreme Court cases, list the name of the case first but this time follow it with a comma. Next record the volume number followed by a comma then the reporter abbreviation and next the page number. Finally, place the court name and the year of the case in parentheses, divided by a comma, then close it off with a period. A typical citation would look like this: Gray v. Johnson, 18 F. Supp. 2d 685 (S.D. Florida, 2005).

State Court Cases

State court cases follow the same format as lower federal court cases with the exception that the court is listed differently in parentheses. When listing the court in parenthesis, the abbreviation for the court follows the state abbreviation. For state court cases the citation would look like this: Gray v. Johnson, 896 S.D. 636 (NC Cir. Ct. 2011).

In-text Citations

In the body of the paper references should be cited with the name of the case followed by a comma then the year of the case. This reference should be enclosed in parentheses at the end of a sentence unless a direct reference is being used. When using a direct reference to the case, cite the name of the case in the sentence and follow it with the year in parentheses. For example, inside of a sentence the citation would appear as Gray v. Johnson (2005). After the sentence, the reference would appear as (Gray v. Johnson, 2005).


About the Author

Based in southern Virginia, Kristy Robinson has been writing for various websites since 2008. Her work focuses on tutorials and self-help articles. Robinson holds a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from American InterContinental University.

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