ARCHIVED: Montana Supreme Court Adopts Medium-Neutral Citation Format

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January 16, 1998


The Montana Supreme Court has adopted a public domain, medium-neutral citation format for its opinions. In an order issued December 16, 1997, the court unanimously agreed that accommodation must be made for information appearing in electronic format. In its order, the Court stated that it wished to make its opinions and substantive orders more accessible to the print and broadcast media and to members of the public.

The Court's opinions and substantive orders that are handed down after January 1, 1998 will have citations which will include the calendar year of the opinion or order, followed by the Montana U.S. Postal Code (MT), followed by the consecutive number of the document beginning each year with "1" (for example, 1998 MT 1). Beginning with the first paragraph of the text of the opinion, each paragraph will be numbered consecutively with a paragraph symbol followed by an Arabic numeral. Thus, cases decided from and after January 1, 1998 will have citations such as: Doe v. Roe, 1998 MT 12, 286 Mont. 175, 989 P. 2d 1312. Pinpoint cites will be to the paragraph numbers of the opinion, e.g., 1998 MT 12 8.

The medium-neutral citation format will be used in addition to the current citation format. Montana Reports remains the official reporter of the Court. Encouragement is given to the adoption and use of the new format in all briefs, memoranda, and other documents filed in the Court.

By providing for a medium-neutral citation format, the Court will be able to more effectively implement the "Right to Know" provisions of Montana's Constitution. According to State Law Librarian Judy Meadows, at this time there are more citizens in Montana with access to the Court's opinions on the Internet (www.lawlibrary.mt.gov) than those who can easily access printed reporters.

The Montana Supreme Court acknowledged the work of the American Association of Law Libraries and its Citation Formats Committee. Both the AALL and the American Bar Association have approved the Committee's recommended format, and have urged federal and state courts to adopt the vendor-neutral and medium-neutral citation standards. The Montana Supreme Court used the materials of AALL's Citation Formats Committee, found on AALL's Web site, AALLNET (http://www.aallnet.org/committee/citation/), as its primary resource in both reaching its decision and issuing its new Order.

The American Association of Law Libraries was founded in 1906 to promote and enhance the value of law libraries to the legal and public communities, to foster the profession of law librarianship, and to provide leadership in the field of legal information.