American Judges Association
Date of this Version
The obvious objection to footnotes is that they force the reader to interrupt the reading of the text with glances down to the bottom of the page. They prevent continuous reading. In doing so they make the reader work harder for the same information. In articles, which are (in law anyway) usually much longer than judicial opinions, and a fortiori in books, bringing citations into the text would elongate the text unduly. But opinions, as I say, usually are short; the two opinions of mine that Garner quotes from in his article are only 1,300 and 2,700 words respectively, while a law-review article of 20,000 words would be considered short. If an opinion does become very long or clogged with citations, the author always has the option of putting some of them in footnotes, though I myself have never found that either necessary or appropriate; I do not use any footnotes in my opinions, and never have during my 20 years as a judge.
Published in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association, 38:2 (2001), pp. 24-25. Copyright © 2001 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission. Online at http://aja.ncsc.dni.us/htdocs/publications.htm.