Saturday, April 18, 2009

More Bluebook Follies and Lazy Law Review Authors

Yes, yes, its not hard to find these things, but it’s a slow Saturday afternoon. The same student who I worked on with problems in citing the re-codified Jones Act last fall stumbled upon this somewhat egregious error from an article draft that one of our law reviews is working on.

The mistake is right there in one of the first footnotes, which cites to:
Geneva Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, April 29, 1958, 15 U.S.T. 471, T.I.A.S. No. 5578, 449 U.N.T.S. 311
The student had pulled this up on Westlaw using the UST cite and was puzzled because a subsequent footnote referenced section 3 of article 7 of this treaty but article 7 of the treaty found at 15 UST 471 is only a single sentence with no subsections. Plus, certain terms and quotes the author references attributes to this treaty are not in the document found at this citation. Oh, and the TITLE of the treaty at that citation is NOT the title given in the footnote.

I took the student over to the UNTS set and pulled the treaty there and was further perplexed, as the document at this cite- 449 UNTS 311 was in the middle of a treaty about air services between Germany and Ireland.

I’m no expert on researching treaties, but after a little poking around I found the Treaties in Force (“TIF”) index and looked up the date given in the citation in the TIF’s chronological listing. While I was doing this, I told the student to look up the name of this treaty in Westlaw’s JLR database (he was carrying his laptop along with him as we toured the stacks) to see if anyone else had a different citation for it. And at about the same time we both came upon the correct citation.

The listing in the TIF index for that date has several similarly-titled and easily confused (if you’re not really paying attention) treaties:
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(From Igor I. Kavass (ed.), A Guide to the United States Treaties in Force, Book 1 at 229 and 231 and Book 3 at 21 (2007 ed.)).

These include the one that was mis-copied/mis-cited by this article’s author:
TIAS 5639 Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone
15 UST 1606, 516 UNTS 205
and this one
TIAS 5578 Convention on the Continental Shelf
15 UST 471, 499 UNTS 311
So the author of the article had 1) copied the citation for the Continental Shelf treaty instead of the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone treaty and 2) mis-copied the UNTS volume for the Continental Shelf treaty as 449 UNTS 311 instead of 499 UNTS 311. A double f-up.

I can’t really imagine that the author would have a copy of the treaty, write about it in detail, and still have all these numbers mis-cited from this different - but similar and, apparently, related - treaty. Another possibility is that the author didn’t bother looking at the thing recently but just copied the cite from other sources. I found one article where these two treaties are cited in the same footnote:
George V. Galdorisi and Alan G. Kaufman, Military Activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone: Preventing Uncertainty and Defusing Conflict, 32 Cal. W. Int'l L.J. 253 (2002)

[FN40] Casteneda, supra, note 2, at 605 (citing Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, Apr. 29, 1958, 516 U.N.T.S. 205; Convention on the High Seas, Apr. 29, 1958, 459 U.N.T.S. 11; Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas, Apr. 29, 1958, 559 U.N.T.S. 285; Convention on the Continental Shelf, Apr. 29, 1958, 449 U.N.T.S. 311).
So that is a possibility. Note that this footnote also has the wrong volume for the UNTS citation to the Convention on the Continental Shelf - 449 instead of 499. This was perplexing so, just out of curiosity, I searched JLR for that incorrect UNTS cite:
"449 U.N.T.S. 311"
and found eight articles that, while giving the correct parallel UTS and TIAS citations, give this same incorrect UNTS volume for this treaty.

So someone way back when mis-cited the thing, and a whole bunch of other people probably just cribbed the citation from whatever article they read it in and never bothered to look up the actual treaty themselves in the UNTS set to verify the parallel citation.

I even checked Hein-Online - and I don’t search it much but was pleased at the accuracy of these results - and I found 19 additional mis-citations for this treaty, the first culprit being in 1967:
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(from David Phillip Stand, Wet Land: The Unavailable Resource of the Outer Continental Shelf, 2 Stud. L. & Econ. Dev. 156 (1967-1968)).

So this mistake has been bouncing around for a long time, at least forty-plus years. "I shot an error into the air; its still going, everywhere”.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You showed us with your superior bluebooking skills. You must be proud of yourself.