July 13, 2011

Love the Yellow Book? Hate it? Thank the Reporter of Decisions

This is the second in our series of posts about California’s Reporter of Decisions. One thing you may not know about the Reporter of Decisions is that he or she is responsible for editing the California Style Manual, also known as the Yellow Book. According to this article, in 1942, when the legendary Bernard E. Witkin—who served as Reporter of Decisions from 1940 to 1949—issued the First Edition of the California Style Manual, he wrote that it was intended “’to state the chief rules and practices which govern the preparation, form and publication of opinions of the appellate courts of California.’” Witkin explained that “‘[i]t is designed primarily as a guide to the courts, the Reporter of Decisions and the publishers of the official California reports and advance sheets.’” But, he added somewhat presciently, “‘It is believed . . . that law offices and law publishers and printers may find it useful in their work.’” Subsequent Reporters of Decisions have carried the torch ever since, with Edward W. Jessen, the current Reporter of Decisions, serving as editor of the Fourth Edition of the Yellow Book.

(We’ve blogged about the Yellow Book before, most recently when a controversial proposal was made to amend the Rules of Court and the Government Code to require that all documents filed in California courts be in Bluebook style.)

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