When you refer to writings in a legal document, you must always cite them. This is true even when the writing is a sworn statement, known as an affidavit. The most common way to include citations in a legal document is through the rules set out in the Bluebook.
What Is an Affidavit?
Affidavits are sworn statements made under the penalty of perjury. They are written statements of facts that are notarized to provide validity and trustworthiness in the eyes of the law. They can only include descriptions of what the person saw, heard, did or said as it pertains to the case at hand.
An affidavit is typically used as a way to present relevant evidence to a judge when a person cannot testify in person. Often, affidavits are used to support legal arguments offered in an attorney’s brief or motion filed with the court. They provide information that helps a judge make a decision on the outcome of case.
Read More: How to File an Affidavit
When You Cite an Affidavit
Because of the delicate factual nature of every legal matter, it is critical that motions, briefs and other legal writings be sufficiently referenced and supported. The goal of legal citation is to identify where a statement came from, allow the reader to find the statement if necessary and give any additional information.
Affidavits should be cited in a legal document any time they are referenced, whether through direct quotation or more generally. Other court filings and documents that should be cited include depositions, exhibits, answers and complaints.
Citing an Affidavit
Citing an affidavit is relatively straightforward, and it should be done anytime you paraphrase or quote directly from the affidavit in your legal document. For example, assume that witness Shields stated that a green car ran a red light in paragraph eight of her affidavit. You would write “According to witness Shields, a green car ran the red light.”
Provide the citation to the affidavit after the statement. To do so, add a parenthesis after the last word in the sentence where you are citing to the affidavit. In the above example, you would include parenthesis after the word “light.”
An affidavit citation should include the affiant’s last name and the paragraph number where the cited information is found in the affidavit. The Bluebook abbreviation for affidavit is Aff. This is the abbreviation that should always be included in a citation for an affidavit to indicate that it is an affidavit being referenced.
According to the Bluebook, an affidavit citation reads “[Affiant Last Name] Aff. ¶ [Paragraph Number]” inside the parenthesis. Including the paragraph symbol (¶) lets readers know that it is a paragraph being referenced by the number. You should add a period inside the parenthesis to end the citation and a period after the parenthesis to end the sentence. Using the above example, the sentence would read:
“According to witness Shields, a green car ran the red light (Shields Aff. ¶ 8.).”
If you cite two separate affidavits from the same affiant in a legal document, you should include the date for each in order to differentiate the two. In that case, the citation would read “Shields Aff. ¶ 8, November 10, 2018.”
If you cite affidavits from different affiants, you do not need to include the date. Be sure to reference the affidavits using the correct witness names and documents so that you don’t confuse the reader.
While the Bluebook is one of the most widely used citation systems, always check with the local court rules prior to submitting documents with the court. Courts may require you to use their form of citation, which may or may not be the same as the Bluebook.
An affidavit must be cited anytime it is mentioned in a legal document, either through direct quotation or by paraphrasing. The citation for an affidavit immediately follows its mention.
- Courts may require you to use their form of citation, which may or may not be the same as the Bluebook. While the Bluebook is one of the most widely-used citation systems, always check with the local court rules prior to submitting documents with the court.
Leslie Bloom earned a J.D. from U.C. Davis’ King Hall, with a focus on public interest law. She is a licensed attorney who has done advocacy work for children and women. She holds a B.S. in print journalism, and has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of print and online publications, including the Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy.