My presentation at the LWI Conference
The Economist doesn’t like all Americanisms

Help Howard alphabetize his cases

Over at How Appealing, Howard Bashman raises an interesting question about alphabetizing cases in a table of authorities:

How should unusual case names be alphabetized in an appellate brief’s table of authorities? For example, assume you cite the following four cases in your appellate brief:

United States v. Jones;

United States v. $154,362.05 in U.S. Currency;

United States v. 75 Broken Television Sets; and

United States v. Smith.

How should those cases be alphabetized in the brief's table of authories?

To help Howard, send him an e-mail. And please leave a comment here about how you would answer Howard’s question.



I have a different, better question: Who ever uses the tables of authorities? They're a pain to make, but there is no evident benefit.


Good question. When the applicable rules don’t require a table of authorities, I generally omit it. But in the federal courts of appeals, Fed. R. App. P. 28(a)(3) requires a table of authorities, which must include “cases (alphabetically arranged).” And in my home state of Louisiana, the state supreme court’s Rule VII § 4 requires a merits brief to include “an index of authorities cited.”


I've used them. Sometimes the only thing I remember about where an argument appears in an opposing brief is the case name, so the ToA is helpful. The amount of use I get out of ToAs, however, does not justify the collective effort it takes the legal community to prepare them.


I was hoping to see more answers here. My inclination would be to put the numbers first, before the As. That would be acceptable according to the Chicago Manual of Style's website:


Douglas: Thanks for the comment. I too like to have some authority to support whatever choice I make. You’ve given us one.

Alan Mills

The phone book treats numerals as if they were written out. So the order you have them in is correct.

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