But today's opinion by Justice Cuellar amply demonstrates the pitfalls of such a principle.
Here are just the first three paragraphs of the opinion:
"According to the Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM), one in every five girls and one in every seven boys is sexually abused by the time they reach adulthood. Among adults, one in six women and one in 33 men suffer sexual assault. (CSOM, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Fact Sheet: What You Need to Know About Sex Offenders (2008) p. 1
During the five-year period from 2006 to 2011, the number of registered sex offenders in the United States increased 23.2 percent. (Nat. Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Number of Registered Sex Offenders in the U.S. Nears Three-quarters of a Million (Jan. 2012)
California (Jan. 2008) p. 55.) How to manage and supervise these offenders is one of the most difficult challenges facing government policymakers today."
Parsing through all these citations while you're reading is a major hassle. Particularly, but by no means limited to, the hyperlinks.
Wouldn't it be better just to put the citations in footnotes? The text would flow a lot better that way, IMHO.
Yes, I know, that'd require the reader to maybe look down occasionally. But if the reader understands -- either from this opinion or others -- that you're just putting citations there, they can get used to just reading the text and looking down if necessary (read: pretty much never). And even if they have to plop an eye or two down on occasion, I still think that's better than having to struggle in a paragraph to find when the stinking citation you don't care about finally stops. At least a footnote is both self-contained and easily ignored.
Lots of legal writing puts too much stuff in footnotes.
But the remedy sometimes goes overboard the other way.