Saturday, December 6, 2008

Indiana Appellate Opinions - For Publication and Not For Publication

I Think I need to publish a reminder about Not-For Publication cases. I touched on Not-For-Publication cases in Observations on Not-For-Publications opinions and on do-it-yourself appeals. I want to add some detail today.

After all, why if we can see them online are they called Not-For-Publication cases? Lawyers have something that trump dictionaries: court rules.

Indiana's Appellate Rule 65 defines what is a published case and what is a not-for-publication case:

A. Criteria for Publication. All Supreme Court opinions shall be published. A Court of Appeals opinion shall be published if the case:

(1) establishes, modifies, or clarifies a rule of law;

(2) criticizes existing law; or

(3) involves a legal or factual issue of unique interest or substantial public importance.

Other Court of Appeals cases shall be decided by not-for-publication memorandum decision. A judge who dissents from a not-for-publication memorandum decision may designate the dissent for publication if one (1) of the criteria above is met.

The Rule also establishes the meaning of a not-for-publication case:

D. Precedential Value of Not-For-Publication Memorandum Decision. Unless later designated for publication, a not-for-publication memorandum decision shall not be regarded as precedent and shall not be cited to any court except by the parties to the case to establish res judicata, collateral estoppel, or law of the case.

What does this mean? It means you can look at it but it has no value as law. You can use it find cases that are law. I think that they may also have a value in showing how the law is applied to a set of facts, but that does depend on the case. I am finding more interesting reading in the NFP cases than I am finding in some of the for-publication cases.

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