Okay, with apologies to Admiral Dewey (“Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead”), I couldn’t resist the caption. The point, set out by my favorite legal writing guru, Bryan Garner, is that citations out to be relocated to the bottom of the page because they make reading the text so much more difficult.
With word processing, such a move is easy and without any major downside. If, at time of reading, you want to check the citation, it will be there (and if in an electronic document, with an appropriate hot-link to boot). But when reading for the gist of the argument, the use of footnotes for citations would make the reading and comprehension a great deal easier. Don’t we want to make our lives, including the lives of our judges (seriously), easier? Of course. Garner reports some courts have already adopted this better practice. More of them should do so.
You can read Garner’s ABA Journal article here.