Unlike many APA Style references, you don't need to know the author's name to write a basic reference for court decisions.
Parts of the Reference:
Case Name: Name v. Name
Use names in the order they appear on the court decision. Abbreviate the word versus as v. in case names. This is an exception to the usual APA Style rule for abbreviating versus. Other abbreviations for terms used in case names can be found in The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.
Lessard v. Schmidt
Brown v. Board of Educ.
Decision Source: Volume Source Page
Court decisions will often be found in volumes called case reporters. These make up the second part of the reference. Abbreviate the name of the reporter as shown in The Bluebook. You may find the abbreviated name in the running head of the book or offical web pages of the reporter.
627 F. Supp. 418 Federal Supplement, volume 627, page 418
239 Va. 312 Virginia Reports, volume 239, page 312
347 U.S. 483 United State Reports, volume 347, page 483
Court and date of the decision: (Court Date)
The reference is completed with the name of the court, the court's geographical jurisdiction , and the date of the decision, all in parentheses. Reasons for omitting: Supreme Court omit its jurisdiction when referencing the Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.) and United States Reports (U.S.). You may omit a court's name and jurisdiction if (1) the deciding court is the highest court of a state or (2) the name of the case reporter conveys the name of the court and its jurisdiction. Again abbreviate according to The Bluebook. For date, use the year that the case was decided. If not available, use the year of the court term.
2d Cir. United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
S.D.N.Y. United States District Court in the Southern District of New York
(10th Cir. 1984) United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, decided 1984
(Tex. Ct. App. 1992) Texas Court of Appeals, decided 1992
(Mich. 1999) Michigan Supreme Court, decided 1999
|Reference Examples||In-Text Citation Example
give the case name, in italics, and the year
|Name v. Name, Volume Source Page (Court Date)||(Name v. Name, Year)|
|Lessard v. Schmidt, 349 F. Supp. 1078 (E.D. Wis. 1972)||(Lessard v. Schmidt, 1972)|
|Blystone v. Pennsylvania, 494 U.S. (1990)||(Blystone v. Pennsylvania, 1990)|
|People v. Armour, 590 N.W.2d 61 (Mich. 1999)||(People v. Armour, 1999)|
Reference Variations and Exceptions
Court cases can have long, complex histories that require more information than what a basic reference format can convey. Some examples are multiple courts and court dates; sources that are other than a primary case reporter; explanatory information such as a note on overruled, reversed, or affirmed decisions or slip opinions. Appendix 7.1 of the APA Publication Manual (p. 218) shows reference examples for these reference variations.