Judgepedia:Writing about state courts
| About judges|
About state judicial decisions
State appellate judges
Help Desk • Cheatsheet
Style guidelines • Discussions
|Community • Tool box|
These guidelines may assist you if you are writing an article about a state court.
Standard order of information
It helps if from one state court article to the next, there is a similarity in the order in which information is presented.
When there is a standard order in which to present information, it makes it easier for contributors, because they can follow that model.
Having a standard order in which information is provided also is a convenience for readers. It makes it easier for them to quickly identify where the sections of information are in which they are most interested.
Articles ideally start out with a robust introductory paragraph that serves as an executive summary. In the first sentence, the name of the court should be in bold as in this example:
- The Alaska Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Alaska.
It is preferable if the first sentence states a concise definition of the court, as in the example immediately above about the Alaska Supreme Court. Sometimes, writers start out in the first sentence by giving some facts about the court; such as, "The Such-and-Such Court was founded in 1937" or "The Such-and-Such Court has 7 judges." These are important facts to include in the introduction, but the very first part of the sentence should tell the reader what the court is, rather than when it was founded or how many judges it has.
Information that can be included in the introductory paragraph includes:
- How many justices or judges are on the court.
- How they are chosen (elected? appointed?)
- A statement about when the court was founded. (If you include a date, make sure to wiki-link the date to the appropriate calendar article.
- The types of cases the court hears.
Note: Although there may be times in the evolution of any article when the introductory paragraph only has one-two sentences, the introductory section in a polished article should include at least one paragraph of four-five sentences, if not more.
This section tells the reader what types of cases a court hears. In addition, a court (such as a state supreme court) may have oversight or administrative duties, and these can be spelled out here as well.
How many cases does the court hear every year?
Information about the number of cases a court hears is valuable because it gives readers an idea about how efficiently a particular court is administered. Case load information also provides a relatively objective look at how much work any particular judge on the court does as well.
The court's justices
This section will include the following subsections: Selection, Qualifications, Current justices, Chief justice, and Removal. Of course, salaries, or any other pertinent information, can be included as additional subsections, if applicable.
What are some of the court's notable decisions?
Typical court pages may include information in separate sections about the courthouse and the history of the court. Like every other wiki article, the standard "See also", "External links" and "References" sections should be included.