"Nota Bene" means "note this well" or "take particular notice." We at the O'Quinn Law Library will be posting tips on legal research techniques and resources, developments in the world of legal information, happenings at the Law Library, and legal news reports that deserve your particular attention. We look forward to sharing our thoughts and findings and to hearing from you.

N.B: Make a note to visit "Nota Bene" regularly.

-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Friday, May 25, 2012

Citing to Vernon's Texas Codes Annotated: Finding Accurate Publication Dates (without touching a book)

When citing to a current statute, both the Bluebook (rule 12.3.2) and Greenbook (rule 10.1.1) require a  practitioner to provide the publication date of the bound volume in which the cited code section appears. For example, let's cite to the codified statute section that prohibits Texans from hunting or selling bats, living or dead. Note, however, you may remove or hunt a bat that is inside or on a building occupied by people. The statute is silent as to Batman, who for his own safety, best stay in Gotham City.

This section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife code is 63.101. "Protection of Bats." After checking the pocket part and finding no updates in the supplement, my citation will be:

Tex. Parks & Wild. Code Ann. § 63.101 (West ___ ).
When I look at the statute in my bound volume of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, I can clearly see that the volume's publication date is 2002. But, when I find the same citation on Westlaw or LexisNexis, all I can see is that the statute is current through the 2011 Texas legislative session. No mention of the volume date at all, strange, especially since the statutes in print and on Westlaw are produced by the same company.

What's an attorney to do? Happily, the Legislative Reference Library of Texas has produced a site that will allow you to find the current bound volume date, ensuring a correct citation in only a couple of clicks. On the homepage, click on the "Legislation" menu, where you'll find a link to "Statute Publication Dates." From there you'll find a list of all code volumes, the sections covered, and current publication year. Now, I can create an accurate citation, without leaving my desk, or paying a fee.

My citation will be:  Tex. Parks & Wild. Code Ann. § 63.101 (West 2002).

Note though, that this list does not include pocket part updates to the volumes. If your statute has been amended since the publication of the original volume, the correct citation will refer to the pocket part that supplements the volume. For example, section 31.108 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, regarding the Boater Education Program, is found in the same 2002 volume. But, it was amended in 2011, so I must refer also to the most recent pocket part that has the updated version of the statute. The correct citation for this section will be:

Tex. Parks & Wild. Code Ann. § 31.108 (West 2002 & Supp. 2011). 

One way to find out if you need to take this extra step is to look at the statute's credits at the end of the code section you are looking at online. If it shows an amendment or other action the year the volume was published or after, you'll need to take a look at the pocket part before citing.

Happy citing, and Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

4 comments:

  1. What? No selling dead bats? And I thought, with my excellent feline hunters, I was about to get a side business going.

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  2. This is very helpful! Can you tell me why you cited to West and not Vernon? Does it matter? Thanks!

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