Answered By: Kate Britt
Last Updated: Sep 16, 2020     Views: 1845

What are parallel citations?

Frequently one case is printed in multiple publications. For each publication, the case has a different citation. Usually there is one official citation, plus additional citations from commercial reporters or other courts. Various citations for one case are referred to as "parallel citations." 

For example, the famous case Brown v. Board has been published in United States Reports (official SCOTUS record), Supreme Court Reporter (unofficial, by West), United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition (unofficial, by Lexis), electronically by LexisNexis, in the American Law Reports, and by the Ohio Opinions (state supreme court reporter). The parallel citations for Brown v. Board may look like this: 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873, 38 A.L.R.2d 1180, 53 O.O. 326. Additional info on parallel citations can be found in Legal Citation in a Nutshell (West Study Aids).

When to use parallel citations?

The Bluebook rule on when and how to use parallel citations is 10.3.1. (pg. 102 in 20th ed.). Check your local court rules for guidance regarding when to use parallel citations. 

Where to find parallel citations?

A complete list of parallel citations for a particular case may be found in several locations.

  • Digest tables of cases. Each set of case digests in the Library contains a volume or volumes of case tables at or near the end of the set. The list is alphabetical by case name and includes all known citations to each case.
  • The National Reporter Blue Book (Smith KF152 .N38) provides the unofficial West reporter citation when only the official state citation is known. The tables do not convert from unofficial to official reports. 
  • Find the case in a commercial database, like Westlaw, Lexis, or Nexis Uni. Each of these databases provide parallel citations for any given case. (See images, below.) 
  • For help figuring out which reporters contain which cases, see this guide to citing cases by Georgetown Law Library.

Brown v. Board parallel citations (Westlaw)Brown v. Board parallel citations (Lexis+)Brown v. Board parallel citations (Nexis Uni)

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