|Publication Rules of Court for the United States and Federal Courts|
Publication Rules of Court for The United States and Federal Circuits
The following are notes on the appellate publication laws of the all the states within the US. There are many variations on how courts make their decisions available. Some have memorandums, summary orders, or both that can be published but usually aren’t, that serve as a replacement for a full written, published opinion. Some states don’t have citation laws but an unwritten understanding that unpublished cases are not citable. The dates listed after the italicized rule are when the code/rule of court was enacted, which is not always available, and the site listed is where the information can be obtained. If you find any of this information to be incorrect please contact us! Also, if you would like further information on a particular rule please let us know, we may be able to furnish it for you.
Alabama There are no publication laws in Alabama. They publish all of their appellate court opinions with out any provisions. (Appellate court’s phone number: 334-242-4599)
Alaska Memorandums and judgements are used to reinstate law and are not published or used as precedent, therefore also not citable. Alaska will also publish only part of decision. Standards for opinions: established a new rule of law, alters, clarifies or modifies an existing rule, involves a legal issue of continuing public interest, criticizes existing law, resolves or comments upon an apparent conflict of authority. March 20, 1981 The Court of Appeals of the State of Alaska Order No. 3 Guidelines for Publication of Court of Appeals Decisions 2. Standard for Publication of Opinions
In keeping with the provisions of appellate rule 214 unpublished decisions of the court of appeals, whether in the form of MEMORANDUM OPINIONS and JUDGMENTS or SUMMARY DISPOSITIONS, shall be considered by the court to have no precedential value. The Court of Appeals of the State of Alaska Order No. 3 Guidelines for Publication of Court of Appeals Decisions 7. Precedential value of Unpublished Decisions (Court of Appeals: 907-264-0757)
Arizona Dispositions of matters before the court requiring a written decision shall be by written opinion when a majority of the judges acting determine that it meets the standards set for publication. Memorandums and portions of a decision can also be considered for publication if they meet the standards set for opinions. Standards for opinions: alter, establish, criticize, or call attention to a rule of law that has been generally overlooked, serves as public interest, or the dissenting opinion wants publication. 1964 Rule 111. Publication of Opinions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals
Memorandum decisions shall not be regarded as precedent nor cited in any court except for the purpose of establishing defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case or informing the appellate court of other memorandum decisions so that the court can decide whether to issue an unpublished opinion, grant a motion for reconsideration, or grant a petition for review. September 1,1973 Rule 111 Publication of Opinions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals (www.courts.state.ar.us)
Arkansas Opinions of the court of Appeals which resolve novel or unusual questions will be released for publication when the opinions are announced and filed with the clerk. The Court of Appeals may consider the question of whether to publish an opinion at its decision-making conference and at that time, if appropriate, make a tentative decision not to publish. Concurring and dissenting opinions will be published only if the majority opinion is published. 1981 Rule 5-2c Opinions
Opinions of the court of appeals not designated for publication shall not be published in the arkansas reports and shall not be cited, quoted or referred to by any court or in any argument, brief, or other materials presented to any court (except in continuing or related litigation upon an issue such as res judicata, collateral estoppel, or law of the case). 1981 Rule 5-2d. Opinions (Court of Appeals: 501-682-2147)
California No opinion of a Court of Appeal or an appellate department may be published in the Official Reports unless the opinion: establishes a new rule of law, applies an existing rule to a set of facts significantly different from those stated in published opinions, or modifies, or criticizes with reasons given, an existing rule; resolves or creates an apparent conflict in the law; involves a legal issue of continuing public interest; or makes a significant contribution to legal literature by reviewing either the development of common law rule or the legislature or judicial history of a provision of a constitution, statute, or other written law. January 1, 1964 Division 3 Rules for Publication of Appellate Opinions Rule 976 Publication of Appellate Opinions b. Standards for Publication of Opinions of Other Courts
An opinion that is not ordered published shall not be cited or relied on by a court or a party in any other action or proceeding except as provided: when the opinion is relevant under the doctrines of law of the case, res judicata, or collateral estoppel; or when the opinion is relevant to a criminal or disciplinary action or proceeding because it states reasons for a decision affecting the same defendant or respondent in another such action or proceeding. January 1, 1974 Division 3 Rules for Publication of Appellate Opinions Rule 977 Citation of Unpublished Opinions Prohibited; Exceptions (www.nonpublication.com)
Colorado No opinion of the Court of Appeals shall be selected for publication unless it satisfies one of the following standards: lays down a new rule of law, alters, modifies existing rule, applies established rule to a novel fact situation, involves public interest, directs attention to shortcomings of existing law or statutes, or resolves conflict of authority. 1975 Rule 14-4-113 Publication of decisions
There is no law that states that unpublished cases are not citable. However, they are used for informational purposes, e.g., referencing an earlier appeal of the same matter etc. (Court of Appeals: 303-861-1111 x139)
Connecticut Connecticut does not practice any form of nonpublication on the appellate level. (Court of Appeals: 860-442-7561)
Delaware Delaware publishes all of their opinions but uses orders which are not published. There are no rules governing the justices’ discretion of when to write an opinion or an order. All decisions finally determining or terminating a case shall be made by written opinion, or by order, as determined by the Court. 1980 Supreme Court Rule 17. Opinions and orders (a) Final Decisions
Delaware’s internal operating procedure states that Supreme Court Rule 17a (above), has been amended to permit orders of the Delaware Supreme Court to be cited as precedent. However, there is nothing in the rule that mentions or suggests such a possibility. In the comment section underneath the rule this is written: The purpose of this  rule change is to make clear that orders of this Court may be cited as precedent in unrelated cases in this Court and in any other Delaware Court, which was the intent of the amendment of Rule 17(a). The internal operating procedure states: [E]ven though both published opinions and case dispositive judgment orders have precedential value, the Court avoids citing to its orders as authority. Supreme Court Internal Operating Procedures 10P X Opinions (8) Citation to orders. (Court of Appeals staff attorney: 302-577-8794)
Florida Florida publishes all of their opinions and has no publication rules. (Courts public information officer: 850-414-7641)
Georgia All opinions shall be reported except otherwise designated by this court. If any member of a division of the Court desires that an opinion not be placed in the published volume of the Georgia Appeals Report, he shall so indicate when voting on the merits of the case. If the decision not to report the opinion is unanimous within the division, it shall not be officially reported. If any member dissents to the nonreporting of the opinion, this issue shall be circulated to the entire Court if the dissenting judge requests, in which event a majority vote shall control whether said opinion is officially reported. There are no laws addressing the standards publication. Rule 37 Reporting of opinions.
No unreported opinion shall be cited as a physical or binding precedent of the Court. 1975 Rule 37. Reporting of opinions (www.doas.state.ga.us.courts/appeals)
Hawaii Memorandum opinions shall not be published. Dispositional orders shall not be published except upon the order of the court. There are no written standards which the justices must follow when deciding to publish or not publish an opinion. Hawai`i Rules of Appellate Procedure Rule 35 Dispositions b. Publication
A memorandum opinion or unpublished dispositional order shall not be cited in any other action or proceeding except when the opinion or unpublished dispositional order establishes the law of the pending case, res judicata or collateral estoppel, or in a criminal action or proceeding involving the same respondent. Hawai`i Rules of Appellate Procedure Rule 35. Dispositions c. Citation (hawaii.gov/jud)
Idaho Idaho has no rules of court that govern their nonpublication practices. It is under discretion of the court which cases will be published. The unpublished cases are not citable and depublication is practiced. (Idaho Court of Appeals: 208-334-2246)
Illinois Only opinions of the court will be published. A case may be disposed of by an opinion only when a majority of the panel deciding the case determines that at least one of the following criteria is satisfied, subject to the limitations contained in the accompanying administrative order: (1) the decision establishes a new rule of law or modifies, explains or criticizes an existing rule of law; or (2) the decision resolves; creates, or avoids an apparent conflict of authority within the Appellate Court. Illinois also uses written and summary orders that can contain a citation of controlling precedent. January 31, 1972 Rule 23 Disposition of Cases in the Appellate Court
An unpublished order of the court is not precedent and may not be cited by any party except to support contentions of double jeopardy, res judicata, collateral estoppel or law of the case. January 31, 1972 Rule 23 Disposition of Cases in the Appellate Court (State Law Library: 815-434-5050)
Indiana Disposition by written opinion shall be made if such disposition: (a) establishes, alters, modifies or clarifies a rule of law, or (b) criticizes existing law, or (c) involves a legal or factual issue of unique interest or substantial public importance. All other dispositions are written by memorandum decisions that are generally not published unless a dissenting opinion determines a standard for written opinion is satisfied. January 1, 1972 Appellate Rule 15 Opinions, memorandums, decisions, powers and conduct of court on appeal; miscellaneous provisions (A) Publication and Precedential Value of Dispositions by Court of Appeals
Unless specifically designated "For Publication". Memorandum decisions shall not be published nor shall they be regarded as precedent nor cited before any court except for the purpose of establishing the defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel or the law of the case. January 1, 1972 Appellate Rule 15 Opinions, memorandums, decisions, powers and conduct of court on appeal; miscellaneous provisions (A) Publication and Precedential Value of Dispositions by Court of Appeals (Clerk of Courts: 317-232-1930)
Iowa An opinion of the court of appeals may be published only when at least one of the following criteria is satisfied: (1) the case resolves an important legal issue; (2) the case concerns a factual situation of broad public interest, or (3) the case involves legal issues which have not been previously decided by the Iowa supreme court. September 19, 1979 Supreme Court Rule 10. Publication of Court of Appeals Opinions (b) Criteria for Publication
An unpublished opinion of the court of appeals may not be cited by a court or by a party in any other action or proceeding except when the opinion establishes the law of the case, res judicata or collateral estoppel, or in a criminal action or proceeding involving the same defendant or a disciplinary action or proceeding involving the same respondent. September 19, 1979 Supreme Court Rule 10. (f) Citation of Opinions (Court of Appeals: 515-243-3179)
Kansas Opinions are in memorandum form unless it meets on the following criteria for a written opinion: (a) establishes a new rule of law or alters of modifies an existing rule; (b) involves a legal issue of continuing public interest; (c) criticizes or explains existing law; (d) applies an established rule of law to a factual situation significantly different from that in published opinions of the courts of this state; (e) resolves an apparent conflict of authority; or (f) constitutes a significant and non-duplicative contribution to legal literature: (1) by an historical review of law; or (2) by describing legislative history. 1980 Supreme Court Rule 7.04 Opinions of the Appellate Courts
Since unpublished opinions are deemed to be without value as precedent and are not uniformly available to all parties, opinions so marked shall not be cited as precedent by any court or in any brief or other material presented to any court, except to support a claim of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or law of the case. 1980 Supreme Court Rule 7.04 Opinions of the Appellate Courts (Reporter of Decisions: 785-296-2602)
Kentucky Kentucky does not have a rule of court that describes their publication standards. They follow the ABA guidelines that were established in 1976 that requires that an opinion must establish a new principle, apply an established principle to a novel fact situation, criticizes existing law, or is of significant public interest in order to be considered for publication. January 1, 1978
Opinions that are not to be published shall not be cited or used as authority in any other case in any court of this state. January 1, 1978 Rules of Civil Procedure 76.28 Opinions 4 Publication c. (Court of Appeals: 502-573-7920)
Louisiana An opinion of a Court of Appeal shall not be designated for publication unless a majority of the panel decides it should be published under the following standards: (a) the opinion establishes a new rule of law or alters or modifies an existing rule; (b) the opinion involves a legal issue of continuing public interest; (c) the opinion criticizes existing law; (d) the opinion resolves an apparent conflict of authority; or (e) the opinion will serve as a useful reference, such as one reviewing case law or legislative history. Uniform Rules-Courts of Appeal 2-16.2 Standards for Publication
Opinions marked "Not Designated for Publication" shall not be cited, quoted, or referred to by any counsel, or in any argument, brief, or other materials presented to any court, except in continuing or related litigation. Opinions marked "Not Designated for Publication" shall be filed in the clerk’s office as public records. Uniform Rules – Courts of Appeal 2-16.3 Unpublished Opinions; Designation; Citation (Court of Appeals: 504-361-6396)
Maine Maine does not have a rule of court that addresses standards for opinions or publication. Signed opinions and per curiams are publised while memorandum decisions and summary orders are not.
Memorandum decisions and summary orders shall not be published in the Atlantic Reporter and shall not be cited as precedent for any matter addressed therein. Supreme Judicial Court Order 6. (Court Clerk: 207-822-4146 and www.courts.state.me.us/citation)
Maryland Maryland publishes all opinions, except attorney grievances with no rules of court explaining procedures. (State Law Library: 410-260-1430)
Massachusetts. Massachusettes has no rules of court that monitor their nonpublication practices. They only publish a portion of their opinions and summary dispositions.
There is no rule that indicates that unpublished cases can not be cited. However there are footnotes in various cases that state that published opinions are not citable. (Court of Appeals: 617-557-1020)
Michigan A court opinion must be published if it: (1) establishes a new rule of law; (2) construes a provision of a constitution, statute, ordinance, or court rule; (3) alters or modifies an existing rule of law or extends it to a new factual context; (4) reaffirms a principle of law not applied in a recently reported decision; (5) involves a legal issue of continuing public interest; (6) criticizes existing law; or (7) creates or resolves an apparent conflict of authority, whether or not the earlier opinion was reported. Appellate Rule 7.215 Opinions, Orders, Judgments, and Final Process From Court of Appeals (B) Standards for Publication
An unpublished opinion [is not precedentially binding] under the rule of stare decisis. [A party who cites an unpublished opinion must provide a copy of the opinion to the court and to opposing parties with the brief or other paper in which the citation appears. A published opinion of the Court of Appeals has precedential effect under the rule of stare decisis. Appellate Rule 7.215 Opinions, Orders, Judgments, and Final Process From Court of Appeals (C) Precedent of Opinions (Court Clerk: 517-373-0120)
Minnesota The decision of the court need not include a written opinion. A statement of the decision without a written opinion must not be officially published and must not be cited as precedent, except as law of the case, res judicata, or collateral estoppel. The court of appeals may publish only those decisions that: (1) establish a new rule of law; (2) overrule a previous court of appeals’ decision not reviewed by the supreme court; (3) provide important procedural guidelines in interpreting statutes or administrative rules; (4) involve a significant legal issue; or (5) would significantly aid in the administration of justice. Court of Appeals 480A.08 Decision of the Court Subd. 3. Decisions
Unpublished opinions of the court of appeals are not precedential. Unpublished opinions must not be cited unless the party citing the unpublished opinion provides a full and correct copy to all other counsel at least 48 hours before its use in any pretrial conference, hearing, or trial. Court of Appeals 480A.08 Decision of the Court Subd. 3. Decisions (Court of Appeals: 651-297-8779)
Mississippi The Court of Appeals may write opinions on all cases heard by that court and shall publish all such written cases. In cases where the judgment of the trial court is affirmed, an opinion will be written in all cases where the Court of Appeals assesses damages for a frivolous appeal and in other cases if a majority of the judges deciding the case determine that a written opinion will add to the value of the jurisprudence of this state or be useful to the parties or to the trial court. Appellate Procedure Rule 35-B Written Opinions and Entry of Judgment in the Court of Appeals (a) Written Opinions in the Court of Appeals
Opinions in cases decided prior to the effective date of this rule which have not been designated for publication shall not be cited, quoted, or referred to by any court or argument, brief or other materials presented to any court except in continuing or related litigation upon an issue such as res judicata, collateral estoppel or law of the case. Appellate Procedure Rule 35-B Written Opinions and Entry of Judgment in the Court of Appeals © Citation of unpublished opinions (Court of Appeals: 601-354-7410)
Missouri Missouri publishes all of their opinions but does not publish summary orders or memorandums. The court rules describing criteria for opinions are not yet available. (Court Clerk: 573-751-0178)
Nebraska The Court of Appeals will prepare a written opinion in cases where the court believes explanation of its decision is required or that the case is of value as a precedent. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Rules Rule 2. Court of Appeals E. Opinions (1) Release of Written Opinions. The panel of the Court of Appeals deciding a case may designate its opinion as "For Permanent Publication" only when one or more of the criteria set out in Neb. Rev. Stat. 24-1104(2) is satisfied. Supreme Court/Court of Appeals Rules Rule 2. Court of Appeals E. Opinions (6) In determining whether to publish a memorandum opinion, the Court of Appeals may take into consideration one or more of the following factors: (a) Whether the decision enunciates a new rule of law; (b) Whether the decision applies an established rule of law to a factual situation significantly different from that in published opinions; (c) Whether the decision resolves or identifies a conflict between prior Court of Appeals decisions; (d) Whether the decision will contribute to legal literature by collecting case law or reciting legislative history; and (e) Whether the decision involves a case of substantial and continuing public interest. Appellate Court Rule 24-1104 Decisions; form; when published
Opinions of the Court of Appeals which the deciding panel has designated as "For Permanent Publication" may be cited in all courts and tribunals in the State of Nebraska. Other opinions and memorandum opinions of the Court of Appeals may be cited only when such case is related, by identity between the parties or the causes of action, to the case then before the court. Supreme Court/Court of Appeals Rules Rule 2. Court of Appeals E. Opinions (4) (Court Clerk: 402-471-3731)
Nevada There are no rules or standards that the justices must abide by when deciding to write or publish an opinion. Generally all opinions are published while orders are not.
An unpublished opinion or order of the Nevada Supreme Court shall not be regarded as precedent and shall not be cited as legal authority except when the opinion or order is (1) relevant under the doctrines of law of the case, res judicata or collateral estoppel; or (2) relevant to a criminal or disciplinary proceeding because it affects the same defendant or respondent in another such proceeding. 2/15/79 Nevada Supreme Court Rules Rule 123. Citation to unpublished opinions and orders (Supreme Court: 775-684-1600)
New Hampshire Publishes all opinions and memorandums. The reporter shall, within 120 days after a decision is announced, publish a report of each case, including the opinion furnished by the court. Court Rule, The State Reporter and Reports 505:7 Publication (Supreme Court: 603-271-2646)
New Jersey An opinion in appropriate form, excluding letter opinions and transcripts of oral opinions, shall be published where the decision (1) involves a substantial question under the United States or New Jersey Constitution, or (2) determines a new and important question of law, or (3) changes, reverses, seriously questions or criticizes the soundness of an established principle of law, or (4) determines a substantial question on which the only case law in the State antedates September 15, 1948, or (5) is based upon a matter of practice and procedure not theretofore authoritatively determined, or (6) is of continuing public interest and importance, or (7) resolves an apparent conflict of authority, or (8) although not otherwise meriting publication, constitutes a significant and nonduplicative contribution to legal literature by providing an historical review of the law, or describing legislative history, or containing a collection of cases that should be of substantial aid to the bench and bar. September 6, 1977 Rules of General Application Rule 1:36-2 Publication (d) guidelines for publication
No unpublished opinion shall constitute precedent or be binding upon any court. Except for appellate opinions not approved for publication that have been reported in an authorized administrative law reporter, and except to the extent required by res judicata, collateral estoppel, the single controversy doctrine or any other similar principle of law, no unpublished opinion shall be cited by any court. No unpublished opinion shall be cited to any court by counsel unless all other parties are served with a copy of the opinion and of all other relevant unpublished opinions known to counsel including those adverse to the position of the client. September 14, 1981 Rules of General Application Rule 1:36-3 Unpublished Opinions (Supreme Court Clerk: 609-984-7791)
New Mexico It is unnecessary for the appellate court to write formal opinions in every case. Disposition by order, decision or memorandum opinion does not mean that the case is considered unimportant. It does mean that no new points of law. Making the decision of value as a precedent, are involved. When an appellate court determines that one or more of the following circumstances exists and is dispositive of the case, it may dispose of the case by order, decision or memorandum opinion: (1) The issues presented have been previously decided by the supreme court or court of appeals; (2) The presence of absence of substantial evidence disposes of the issue; (3) The issues are answered by statute or rules of court; (4) The asserted error is not prejudicial to the complaining party; (5) The issues presented are manifestly without merit. Rules of Appellate Procedure 12-405 Opinions A. Necessity & B. Disposition by order, decision or memorandum opinion
All formal opinions shall be published in the New Mexico Reports. An order, decision or memorandum opinion, because it is unreported and not uniformly available to all parties, shall not be published nor shall it be cited as precedent in any court. Rules of Appellate Procedure 12-405 Opinions C. Publication of Opinions (Court Clerk: 505-827-4860)
North Carolina In order to minimize the cost of publication and of providing storage space for the published reports, the Court of Appeals is not required to publish an opinion on every decided case. If the panel which hears the case determines that the appeal involves no new legal principles and that an opinion, if published, would have no value as a precedent, it may direct that no opinion be published. Rules of Appellate Procedure Rule 30. Oral Argument (e) Decision of Appeal Without Publication of an Opinion (1)
A decision without a published opinion is authority only in the case in which such decision is rendered and should not be cited in any other case in any court for any purpose, nor should any court consider any such decision for any purpose except in the case in which such decision is rendered. Rules of Appellate Procedure Rule 30. Oral Argument (e) Decision of appeal without publication of an opinion (3) (Court of Appeals: 919-733-3561)
North Dakota North Dakota writes an opinion for all cases, all of which are published. (Court Clerk: 701-328-2221)
Ohio An opinion of a Court of Appeals may be selected for official reporting if it is determined by the Supreme Court Reporter that the case contributes significantly to the body of Ohio case law, and that the Court of Appeals which heard the case certifies that the opinion meets one of more of the following standards for reporting: (1) It establishes a new rule of law, which term as used in this rule includes common law, statutory law, procedural rules and administrative rules; (2) It alters, or modifies, or overrules an existing rule of law; (3) It explains, criticizes, or reviews the history of an existing rule of law; (5) It creates or resolves a conflict of authority, or it reverses, overrules, or otherwise addresses a published opinion of a lower court or administrative agency; (6) It concerns or discusses one or more factual or legal issues of significant public interest; (7) It concerns a significant legal issue and is accompanied by a concurring or dissenting opinion; (8) It concerns a significant legal issue upon the remand of a case from the United States Supreme Court or the Supreme Court of Ohio. Rules for the Reporting of Opinions Rep R 2 Courts of the appeals opinions E.
Unofficially published opinions and unpublished opinions of the Courts of Appeals may be cited by any court or person subject to the following restrictions, limitations, and exceptions: (1) An unofficially published or unpublished opinion shall not be considered controlling authority in the judicial district in which it was decided except between the parties thereto when relevant under the doctrines of the law of the case, res judicata, or collateral estoppel or in a criminal proceeding involving the same defendant; (2) In all other situations, each unofficially published opinion or unpublished opinion shall be considered persuasive authority on a court, including the deciding court, in the judicial district in which the opinion was rendered. Opinions reported in the Ohio Official Reports, however, shall be considered controlling authority for all purposes in the judicial district in which they were rendered unless and until each such opinion is reversed or modified by a court of competent jurisdiction. Rules for the Reporting of Opinions Rep R 2 Courts of the appeals opinions (G) (Supreme Court Clerk: 740-643-2211)
Oklahoma An opinion shall be prepared in memorandum form unless it: (1) Establishes a new rule of law or alters or modifies an existing rule; (2) Involves a legal issue of continuing public interest; (3) Criticizes or explains existing law; (4) Applies an established rule of law to a factual situation significantly different from that unpublished opinions of the courts of this state; (5) Resolves an apparent conflict of authority; or (6) Constitutes a significant and non-duplicative contribution to legal literature: (a) by an historical review of law; or (b) by describing legislative history. Supreme Court Rule Part VII. Manner and Form of Opinions in the Appellate Courts Rule 1.200 Opinions of the Supreme Court and the Court of Civil Appeals (a) Memorandum Opinions
The Court of Appeals shall effect disposition of cases assigned to it by a written opinion prepared in such form as the Supreme Court prescribes. No opinion of the Court of Appeals shall be binding or cited as precedent unless it shall have been approved by the majority of the Justices of the Supreme Court for publication in the official reporter. The Supreme Court shall direct which opinion or decision, if any, of the Court of Appeals shall be published in the unofficial reporter. Opinions of the Court of Appeals which apply settled precedent and do not settle new questions of law shall not be released for publication in the official reporter. 4/15/70 Court of Appeals Rule 30.5 Opinions – Publications (Court Clerk: 405-521-2163)
Oregon Oregon publishes all of their decisions no matter what form they may be written in. The Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals may decide cases before it by means of memorandum decisions and shall prepare full opinions only in such cases as it deems proper. Procedure in Civil Proceedings 19.435 Memorandum decisions A case will not be decided without an opinion unless all of the judges in majority (or, in decisions from the bench, all judges hearing the case) agree on the result and that an opinion will have no precedential value. The court decides cases by opinion in which the author is designated only when there is reason to do so. Generally, reasons exist when: 1. An opinion would have precedential value, because the decision involves a hitherto unstated or undecided issue of law; or 2. An opinion would have precedential value, because the decision requires an application of established principles of law to new, novel or exceptionally illustrative facts; or 3. A reversal or modification requires more than a summary statement of the reasons; or 4. Issues of unusual public concern are presented. Internal Practices of the Court of Appeals of Oregon Form of Decisions; decisions without opinion and opinions in which the author is designated
All decisions are citable no matter what form they are published in. (State Staff Attorney: 503-986-5680)
Pennsylvania All cases have written, published opinions. (Court Clerk: 215-560-6370)
South Carolina The are no set criteria for when a published opinion is written versus a memorandum opinion which are not published. The determination is left up to the justices with no guidelines in the rules of court.
The following rule indicates that unpublished opinions are not citable, without clearly stating so. The appellate court shall make its decisions in writing by published opinions or memorandum opinions, with any concurring or dissenting opinions attached. Published opinions shall appear in the Official Reports of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals; memorandum opinions shall not be published in the official reports and shall be of no precedential value. Supreme Court Rule 220 Opinions (a) opinions (Supreme Court Clerk: 803-734-1080)
South Dakota Publishes all opinions. After all briefs have been filed in any appeal, the Supreme Court by unanimous action may, sua sponte, enter an order or memorandum opinion affirming the judgment or order of the trial court for the reason that it is manifest on the face of the briefs and the record that the appeal is without merit because: (1) the issues are clearly controlled by settled South Dakota law or federal law binding upon the states; (2) the issues are factual and there clearly is sufficient evidence to support the jury verdict or findings of fact below; or (3) the issues are ones of judicial discretion and there clearly was not an abuse of discretion. Rules of Appellate Procedure 15-26A-87.1 Disposition on briefs and record – Grounds – Citation of decisions restricted. (A).
A list indicating the disposition of all decisions rendered by the Supreme Court under this section shall be published quarterly in the Northwestern Reporter. Such decisions shall not be cited or relied upon as authority in any litigation in any court in South Dakota except when the decision establishes the law of the case, res judicata or collateral estoppel, or in a criminal action or proceeding involving the same defendant or a disciplinary action or proceeding involving the same person. Rules of Appellate Procedure 15-26A-87.2 (Court Clerk: 605-224-7554)
Tennessee An opinion of the Court from which no application for permission to appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court has been filed shall be published only if, in the determination of the members of the Court, it meets one or more of the following criteria: (1) The opinions establishes a new rule of law or alters or modifies an existing rule to a set of facts significantly different from those stated in other published opinions; (2) The opinion involves a legal issue of continuing public interest; (3) The opinion criticizes, with reasons given, an existing rule of law; (4) The opinion resolves an apparent conflict of authority; (5) The opinion updates, clarifies or distinguishes a principle of law; or (6) The opinion makes a significant contribution to legal literature by reviewing either the development of a common law rule or the legislative or judicial history of a provision of a constitution, statute, or other written law. Rules of the Court of Appeals Rule 11 Publication of Opinions Where No Application for Permission to Appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court is Filed (b)
No opinion of any court that has not been published shall be cited in papers filed in the Court of Appeals unless a copy thereof has been furnished to the Court and to adversary counsel. Rules of the Court of Appeals Rule 12. Citation of Unpublished Opinions (a) (Court of Appeals Court Clerk: 615-741-2681)
Texas An opinion should be published only if it does any of the following: (a) establishes a new rule of law, alters or modifies an existing rule, or applies an existing rule to a novel fact situation likely to recur in future cases; (b) involves a legal issue of continuing public interest; (c) criticizes existing law; or (d) resolves an apparent conflict of authority. Rule of Appellate Procedure 47.4 Standards for Pubication
Opinions not designated for publication by the court of appeals have no precedential value and must not be cited as authority by counsel or by a court. September 1, 1997 Rule of Appellate Procedure 47.7 Unpublished Opinions (www.courts.tx.us and Court Clerk: 512-463-1312)
Utah The following are matters which the court may consider for expedited decision without opinion: (1) appeals involving uncomplicated factual issues based primarily on documents; (2) summary judgements; (3) dismissals for failure to state a claim; (4) dismissals for lack of personal or subject matter jurisdiction; and (5) judgements or orders based on uncomplicated issues of law. The court will not grant a motion for an appeal in cases raising substantial constitutional issues, issues of significant public interest, issues of law of first impression, or complicated issues of fact or law. Rules of Appellate Procedure 31. Expedited appeals decided after oral argument without written opinion. (b) and (d)
Utah does not have a clear rule explaining their no citation practices. Any opinion that is not published is considered not citable. Appeals decided under this rule will not stand as precedent, but, in other respects, will have the same force and effect as other decisions of the court. Rules of Appellate Procedure 31. Expedited appeals decided after oral argument without written opinion. (f) (Court Clerk: 801-578-3907)
Vermont Vermont does not publish all of their opinions and has no rules of court describing their process. The general standard that is "understood" amongst the three justice panel is that a published opinion must create new law.
The cases that are not published are not citable and no rule of court exists establishing this practice. (Court Clerk: 802-828-3278)
Washington Washington has no rules of court that describes the discretion that the judges use when deciding to order an opinion not to be published in the official reports.
A party may not cite as an authority an unpublished opinion of the Court of Appeals. Unpublished opinions of the Court of Appeals are those opinions not published in the Washington Appellate Reports. July 2, 1976 Appellate Procedure Rule 10.4 Preparation and Filing of Brief by Party (h) Unpublished Opinions (Reporter of Decisions: 360-357-2087)
West Virginia Publishes all opinions and has no rules that establishes criteria for opinions or orders. (Court Clerk: 304-558-0145)
Wisconsin Criteria for publication. (a) While neither controlling nor fully measuring the court’s discretion, criteria for publication in the official reports of an opinion of the court include whether the opinion: 1. Enunciates a new rule of law or modifies, clarifies or criticizes an existing rule; 2. Applies an established rule of law to a factual situation significantly different from that in published opinions; 3. Resolves or identifies a conflict between prior decisions; 4. Contributes to the legal literature by collecting case law or reciting legislative history; or 5. Decides a case of substantial and continuing public interest. (b) An opinion should not be published when: 1. The issues involve no more than the application of well settled rules of law to a recurring fact situation; 2. The issue asserted is whether the evidence is sufficient to support the judgment and the briefs show the evidence is sufficient; 3. The issues are decided on the basis of controlling precedent and no reason appears for questioning or qualifying the precedent; 4. The decision is by one court of appeals judge under 752.31(2) and (3); 5. It is a per curiam opinion on issues other than appellate jurisdiction or procedure; 6. It has no significant value as precedent. Appellate Procedure 809.23. Publication of opinions (1) Criteria for publication
An unpublished opinion is of no precedential value and for this reason may not be cited in any court of this state as precedent or authority, except to support a claim of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or law of the case. Appellate Procedure 809.23. Publication of opinions (3) Unpublished opinions not cited
(Court Clerk: 608-266-1880)
Wyoming Wyoming writes an opinion for all cases and publishes all opinions. (Court Clerk: 307-777-7316)
Publication Rules of Court for the Court of Appeals Federal Circuits
First CircuitThe volume of filings is such that the court cannot dispose of each case by opinion. Rather it makes a choice, reasonably accommodated to the particular case, whether to use an order, memorandum and order, or opinion. An opinion is used when the decision calls for more than summary explanation. However, in the interests of expedition in the particular case, and of saving time and effort in research on the part of future litigants, some opinions are rendered in unpublished form; that is, the opinions are directed to the parties but are not otherwise published, and may not be cited in unrelated cases. As indicated in Local Rule 36.2, the court’s policy, when opinions are used, is to prefer that they be published; but in limited situations, described in Local Rule 36.2, where opinions are likely not to break new legal ground or contribute otherwise to legal ground or contribute otherwise to legal development, they are issued in unpublished form. Court of Appeals – First Circuit Rule 36.1 Opinions
Second Circuit The demands of an expanding case load require the court to be ever conscious of the need to utilize judicial time effectively. Accordingly, in those cases in which decision is unanimous and each judge of the panel believes that no jurisprudential purpose would be served by a written opinion, disposition will be made in open court or by summary order.
Where a decision is rendered from the bench, the court may deliver a brief oral statement, the record of which is available to counsel upon request and payment of transcription charges. Where disposition is by summary order, the court may append a brief written statement to that order. Since these statements do not constitute formal opinions of the court and are unreported or not uniformly available to all parties, they shall not be cited or otherwise used in unrelated cases before this or any other court. Court of Appeals – Second Circuit Rule 0.23 Dispositions in Open Court or by Summary Order
Third Circuit There are three forms of opinions: for –publication; not-for-publication; and memorandum opinions. A majority of the panel determines whether the opinion is for publication or not-for-publication, unless a majority of the active judges of the court decides otherwise. IOP 5.1 Forms of Opinons
An opinion, whether signed or per curiam, is published when it has precedential or institutional value. IOP 5.2 For-publication Opinions
An opinion which appears to have value only to the trial court or the parties is ordinarily not published. These may include, at the option of the majority of the panel, divided panel opinions affirming the judgment of the trial court, granting or denying a petition for review or enforcement of the order of an administrative agency, divided or unanimous opinions reversing or vacating the judgment of the trial court, and per curiam, opinions. A per curiam opinion may be utilized for affirming, reversing, vacating, modifying, setting aside, or remanding the judgment, decree, or order appealed from; for dismissing an appeal; for granting or denying a petition for review; and for granting or refusing enforcement of the order of an administrative agency. A not-for-publication opinion shall so state on the face of the opinion. IOP 5.3 Not-for-publication Opinions
When the panel unanimously determines to affirm the judgment, order, or decision of the court under review, to dismiss an appeal, or to enforce or deny review of the order or decision of an administrative agency, and determines that a written opinion will have no precedential or institutional value, the author may choose to write a memorandum opinion briefly setting forth the reasons supporting the court’s decision as an alternative to preparation of a judgment order. In that circumstance, the authorizing judge will also prepare the judgment. Memorandum opinions are not used when the disposition of the court is to reverse or remand to the trial court or to grant review or deny enforcement of an order of an administrative agency or to remand to such an agency. IOP 5.4 Memorandum Opinions
Court or Appeals – Third Circuit Chapter 5. Opinions
Because the court historically has not regarded unpublished opinions as precedents that bind the court, the court by tradition does not cite to its unpublished opinions as authority. IOP 5.8 Citations.
Fourth Circuit Opinions delivered by the Court will be published only if the opinion satisfies one or more of the standards for publication:
i. It establishes, alters, modifies, clarifies, or explains a rule of law within this Circuit; or
The Court will publish opinions only in cases that have been fully briefed and presented at oral argument. Opinions in such cases will be published if the authority or majority of the joining judges believes the opinion satisfies one or more of the standards for publication, and all members of the Court have acknowledged in writing their receipt of the proposed opinion. A judge may file a published opinion without obtaining all acknowledgments only if the opinion has been in circulation for ten days. Rule 36(a). Publication of Decisions
Unpublished opinions give counsel, the parties, and the lower court or agency a statement of the reasons for the decision. They may not recite all of the facts or background of the case and may simply adopt the reasoning of the lower court. They are sent only to the trial court or agency in which the case, and to litigants in the case not represented by counsel. Any individual or institution may receive copies of all published and certain unpublished opinions of the Court by paying an annual subscription fee for this service. In addition, copies of such opinions are sent to all circuit judges, district judges, bankruptcy judges, magistrate judges, clerks of district court, United States Attorneys, and Federal Public Defenders upon request. All opinions are available an ABBS, the Appellate Bulletin Board System, for a minimum of six months after issuance. The Federal Reporter periodically lists the result in all cases involving unpublished opinions. Copies of any unpublished opinion are retained in the file of the case of the Clerk’s Office and a copy may be obtained from the Clerk’s Office for $2.00.
Counsel may move for publication of an unpublished opinion, citing reasons. If such motion is granted, the unpublished opinion will be published without change in result. Rule 36(b) Unpublished Dispositions
In the absence of unusual circumstances, this Court will not cite an unpublished disposition in any of its published opinions or unpublished dispositions. Citation of this Court’s unpublished dispositions in briefs and oral arguments in this Court and in the district courts within this Circuit is disfavored, except for the purpose of establishing res judicata, estoppel, or the law of the case.
If counsel believes, nevertheless, that an unpublished disposition of any court has precedential value in relation to a material issue in a case and that there is no published opinon that would serve as well, such disposition may be cited if counsel serves a copy thereof on all other parties in the case and on the Court. Such service may be accomplished by including a copy of the disposition in an attachment or addendum to the brief’s pursuant to the procedures set forth in Local Rule 28(b). Rule 36(c) CItation of Unpublished Dispositions
If all judges on a panel of the Court agree following oral argument that an opinion in a case would have no precedential value, and that summary disposition is otherwise appropriate, the Court may decide the appeal by summary opinion. A summary opinion identifies the decision appealed from, sets forth the Court’s decision and the reason or reasons therefor, and resolves any outstanding motions in the case. It does not discuss the facts or elaborate on the Court’s reasoning. IOP – 36.3 Summary Opinions.
Fifth Circuit The publication of opinions that merely decide particular cases on the basis of well-settled principles of law imposes needless expense on the public and burdens on the legal profession. However, opinions that may in any way interest persons other than the parties to a case should be published. Therefore, an opinion shall be published if it:
An opinion may also be published if it:
Is accompanied by a concurring or dissenting opinion; or it reverses the decision below or affirms it upon different grounds. 47.5. Criteria for Publication
An opinion shall be published unless each member of the panel deciding the case determines that its publication is neither required nor justified under the criteria for publication. The panel shall reconsider its decision not to publish an opinion upon the request of any judge of the court or any party to the case. The opinion shall then be published if, upon reconsideration, each member of the panel determines that it meets one or more of the criteria for publication or should be published for any other good reason, and the panel issues an order to publish the opinion. 47.5.2. Publication Decision
Unpublished opinions issued before January 1,1996 are precedent. However, because every opinion believed to have precedential value is published, such an unpublished opinion should normally be cited only when the doctrine of res judicata, collateral estoppel of law of the case is applicable (or similarly to show double jeopardy, abuse of the writ, notice, sanctionable conduct, entitlement to attorney’s fees, or the like). If such an unpublished opinion is cited in a brief, motion or other document being submitted to the court, a copy shall be attached to each copy of the brief, motion or document. 47.5.3 Unpublished Opinions Issued Before January 1, 1996
Unpublished opinions issued on or after January 1,1996 are not precedent, except under the doctrine of res judicata, collateral estoppel or law of the case (or similarly to show double jeopardy, abuse of the writ, notice, sanctionable conduct, entitlement to attorney’s fees, or the like). An unpublished opinion may, however, be persuasive. An unpublished opinion may be cited, provided that, if cited in a brief, motion or other document being submitted to the court, a copy of the unpublished opinion shall be attached to each copy of the brief, motion, or document. The first page of each unpublished opinion shall bear the following legend:
Pursuant to 5th Circuit Rule 47.5, the court has determined that this opinion should not be published and is not precedent except under the limited circumstances set forth in 5th Circuit Rule 47.5.4. 47.5.4 Unpublished Opinions Issued On or After January 1, 1996 Court of Appeals – Fifth Circuit 47.5 Publication of Opinions
Sixth Circuit The following criteria shall be considered by panels in determining whether decisions will be designated for publication in the Federal Reporter:
Rule 24 (a) Criteria for Publication
There shall be a presumption in favor of publication of signed and per curiam opinions. A signed opinion is one in which the author’s name appears at the beginning of the opinion. Such opinions shall be designated for publication unless a majority of the panel deciding the case determines otherwise upon consideration of the foregoing criteria. An order shall not be designated for publication unless a member of the panel so requests. Rule 24 (b) Designation for Publication
Citation of unpublished decisions by counsel in briefs and oral arguments in this court and in the district courts within this circuit is disfavored , except for the purpose of establishing res judicata, estoppel, or the law of the case.
If counsel believes, nevertheless, that an unpublished disposition has precedential value in relation to a material issue in a case and that there is no published opinion that would serve as well, such decision may be cited if counsel serves a copy thereof an all other parties in the case and on the court. Such service may be accomplished by including a copy of the decision in an addendum to the brief. Rule 24 © Citation of Unpublished Decisions Local Rules – Sixth Circuit Rule 24. Publication of Decisions
Seventh Circuit Plan for the Publication of Opinions of the Seventh Circuit Promulgated Pursuant of the Judicial Conference of the United States:
(a) Policy. It is the policy of the circuit to reduce the proliferation of published opinions.
(b) Publication. The court may dispose of an appeal by an order or by an opinion, which may be signed or by per curiam. Orders shall not be published and opinions shall be published.
(c) Guidelines for Method of Disposition
(1) Published Opinions. A published opinion will be filed when the decision
(d) Determination of Whether Disposition Is to Be by Order or Opinion.
(e) Except to the purposes set forth in Circuit Rule 53(b)(2)(iv), no unpublished opinion or order of any court may be cited in the Seventh Circuit if citation is prohibited in the rendering court.
Court of Appeals – Seventh Circuit Rule 53
Eighth Circuit A judgment or order appealed may be affirmed or enforced without opinion if the court determines an opinion would have no precedential value and any of the following circumstances disposes of the matter submitted to the court for decision:
The court in its discretion, with or without further explanation, may enter either of the following orders: "AFFIRMED. See 8th Cir. R. 47B"; or "ENFORCED. See 8th Cir. R. 47B." Court of Appeals – Eighth Circuit Rule 47B. Affirmance or Enforcement Without Opinion
Unpublished Opinions are not precedent and parties should not cite them. When relevant to establishing the doctrines of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case, however, the parties may cite any unpublished opinion. Parties may also cite an unpublished opinion of this court if the opinion has persuasive value on a material issue and no unpublished opinion of this or another court would serve as well. A party who cites an unpublished opinion in a document must attach a copy of the unpublished opinion to the document. A party who cites an unpublished opinion for the first time at oral argument must attach a copy of the unpublished opinion to the supplemental authority letter required by FRAP 28(j). When citing an unpublished opinion, a party must indicate the opinion’s unpublished status. Court of Appeals – Eighth Circuit Rule 28A (k) CItation of Unpublished Opinions
Ninth Circuit A written , reasoned disposition shall be designated as an OPINION only if it:
Court of Appeals – Ninth Circuit Rule 36-2. Criteria for Publication
Any disposition that is not an opinion or an order designated for publication under Circuit Rule 36-5 shall not be regarded as precedent and shall not be cited to or by this Court or any other district court of the Ninth Circuit, either in briefs, oral argument, opinion, memoranda, or orders, except when relevant under the law doctrines of law of the case, res judicata, or collateral estoppel. Court of Appeals – Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3 Other Dispositions
Tenth Circuit It is unnecessary for the court to write opinions in every case. The court may, in its discretion and without written opinion, enter either an order, "Affirmed," or an order and judgment disposing of the appeal or petition. Disposition without opinion does not mean that the case is considered unimportant. It does mean that the panel believes the case involves application of no new points of law that would make the decision of value as a precedent. Rule 36.1 Orders and Judgments
When an opinion has been previously published by a district court, an administrative agency, or the United States Tax Court, this court will ordinarily designate its disposition for publication. If a panel has written an order and judgment which would ordinarily not be published, the court will designate for publication only the result of the appeal. Rule 36.2 Publication
Unpublished orders and judgments of this court are not binding precedents, except under the doctrines of law of the case, res judicata, and collateral estoppel. Citation of unpublished orders and judgments is not favored. Nevertheless, an unpublished decision may be cited if it has persuasive value with respect to a material issue that has not been addressed in a published opinion and it would assist the court in its disposition. A copy of the decision must be attached to the brief or other document in which it is cited, or, if cited in oral argument, provided to the court and all parties. Rule 36.3 Citation of Unpublished Opinions/Orders and Judgments.
Eleventh Circuit When the court determines that nay of the following circumstances exist:
and a opinion would have no precedential value, the judgment or order may be affirmed of enforced without opinion. Local Rules and IOPs – 11th Circuit FRAP 36. Entry of Judgment Rule 36-1 Affirmance Without Opinion
An opinion shall be unpublished unless a majority of the panel decides to publish it. Unpublished opinions are not considered binding precedent. They may be cited as persuasive authority, provided that a copy of the unpublished opinion is attached to or incorporated within the brief, petition motion or response in which such citation is made. Rule 36-2 Unpublished Opinions
DC Circuit An opinion, memorandum, or other statement explaining the basis for the court’s action in issuing an order or judgment shall be published if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
All published opinion of the court, prior to issuance, shall be circulated to all judges on the court; they shall be printed prior to release, unless otherwise ordered, and shall be rendered by being filed with the clerk. Local Rules – DC Circuit Rule 63 (2) Published Opinions
The court may, while according full consideration to the issues, dispense with published opinions where the issues occasion no need therefor, and confine its action to such abbreviated disposition as it may deem appropriate, e.g., affirmance by order of a decision or judgment of a court or administrative agency, a judgment of affirmance or reversal, containing a notation of precedents, or accompanied by a brief memorandum. If the parties have agreed to such disposition, they may so state in their briefs or may so stipulate at any time prior to decision. In any such case the court will promptly issue a judgment unless compelling reasons otherwise dictate. Rule 63 - 2(b) Abbreviated Dispositions
An opinion, memorandum or other statement explaining the basis for this court’s action in issuing an order or judgment under subsection (b) above, which does not satisfy any of the criteria for publication set out in subsection (a) above, shall nonetheless be circulated prior to issuance to all judges an the court. A copy of each such unpublished opinion, memorandum, or statement shall be retained as part of the case file in the clerk’s office and shall be publicly available there on the same basis as any published opinion. Rule 36 – 2(c)
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