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34 Alta. L. Rev. 870 (1995-1996)
Judicial Citation, the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Lower Courts: The Case of Alberta

handle is hein.journals/alblr34 and id is 880 raw text is: JUDICIAL CITATION, THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA,
AND THE LOWER COURTS: THE CASE OF ALBERTA
PETER J. McCORMICK
The author undertakes an examination of the      L 'auteur se livre d un examen des pratiques de
citation practices of the Supreme Court of Canada  renvoi de la Cour suprime du Canada de 1984 d
from 1984 to 1994, with a look at which courts and  1994, et relive notamment quels sont les tribunaux
which judges the Supreme Court tends to favour.  et lesjuges qui semblent plus particulierement avoir
Particular attention is given to the frequency of  les faveurs de la Cour. ll note en particulier la
references to the decisions of Alberta courts.   frdquence des rifdrences faites aux dicisions des
Additionally, the article canvasses the basic    tribunaux albertains. De plus, l'article passe en
functions served by the practice ofJudicial citation,  revue les fonctions gldmentaires que remplit cette
pratique judiciaire.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I.  THE THEORY        ..................................... 872
II.  THE DATA       BASE ................................... 874
III.  THE FINDINGS .................................... 875
A.   HIERARCHY ................................... 876
B.'  CONSISTENCY          ................................ 877
C.   DEFERENCE ................................... 878
D.   CO-ORDINATION           .............................. 880
E.   LEADERSHIP .................................. 881
F.   DIVERSITY .................................... 882
IV. SUPREME COURT CITATIONS TO LOWER
COURT DECISIONS: WHO             IS CITED?     .................. 883
V. SUPREME COURT CITATIONS TO LOWER
COURT DECISIONS: WHO CITES?                 .................... 888
VI.   CONCLUSION        ..................................... 890
Appeal court judges do not simply deliver decisions but also give reasoned
explanations for these decisions,' explanations that usually are organized around
citations to judicial authorities. That is to say: judges normally explain why they have
chosen a particular outcome in the immediate case by making reference to the decisions
Professor of Political Science, University of Lethbridge. I wish to acknowledge the assistance
of Madam Justice Hetherington of the Alberta Court of Appeal, who commented extensively
on an earlier version of this article.
Although this is perhaps less true of trial judges, especially since the Supreme Court decision
in R. v. Burns, [1994] 1 S.C.R. 656 at 664, which approved of trial judges stat[ing] their
conclusions in brief compass and scolded the British Columbia Court of Appeal for being
inordinately concerned about the brevity of the trial judge's reasons. It is interesting to note
that this decision would clearly have gone the other way in Australia, where the courts have
always recognized a legal obligation for judges (especially when they are sitting without juries)
to state clear and complete reasons for their decision. See e.g. Justice M. Kirby, Ex Tempore
Reasons (1992) 9 Aust. Bar Rev. 93; and for a more extended argument, Justice M. Kirby,
Reasons for Judgment: 'Always Permissible, Usually Desirable and Often Obligatory' (1994)
12 Aust. Bar Rev. 121. Justice Kirby is a member of the High Court of Australia.

ALBERTA LAW REVIEW

[VOL. XXXIV, NO. 4 1996]

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