How to Cite Unreported Cases

By Sylvia Cini

In the event that a court did not deem a case significant or precedential, a decision may not be reported to print or online publications. The proceedings of these cases are, of course, maintained in the regional court records but are considered "unreported" or "unpublished" for the purposes of future legal citation. Citing unreported cases requires consideration of the presiding court's rules. For example, if unreported by the rule of res judicata, claim preclusion, the court documentation may not be used to re-open the case or alter a final decision.

Write the names of the parties in litigation. (e.g., Conrad v. Lithgow) Use a lower case "v" instead of spelling out versus, italicize or underline the text and end the phrase with a comma. Omit repeated words, list only the primary case names and use standard abbreviations. (See Resources)

Write the year in square brackets. (e.g., [1996])

List the case IDs. Use the unique court identifier if available. Include the reporter volume number, abbreviated reporter name and the page number that the case starts on in the volume. Separate multiple identifiers with a comma.

About the Author

Sylvia Cini has written informative articles for parents and educators since 2009. Her articles appear on various websites. Cini has worked as a mentor, grief counselor, tutor, recreational leader and school volunteer coordinator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Clark University of Worcester, Massachusetts.