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83 Law. Libr. J. 21 (1991)
Survey of State Court Opinion Writing and Publication Practices

handle is hein.journals/llj83 and id is 33 raw text is: Survey of State Court Opinion Writing
and Publication Practices*
Jane Williams**
The author collects and summarizes the constitutional and statutory
provisions and rules of the fifty states and the District of Columbia
relating to court opinion writing and publication practices.
The purpose of this article is to identify the opinion publication rules of
the state courts of last resort and, if applicable, those of their intermediate
appellate courts. Since the latest previously published surveys on
publication rules,' several states have created intermediate appellate courts2
and others have added or revised existing rules and statutes.
Several reasons have been cited for selectively publishing cases. The
main reason is the increase in the appellate case load.3 Nationally, there
were 4.2 percent more appellate filings in 1988 than in 1987.4 Another
reason is that some opinions have no precedential value. Writing detailed
opinions for cases that create no new law wastes judicial time and creates a
mass of materials that is difficult to deal with.5 The history and the
arguments for and against selective publication have been discussed by
numerous commentators.6
* © Jane Williams, 1991.
* Reference Librarian, University of Illinois Law Library, Champaign, Illinois.
1. See Chanin, A Survey of the Writing and Publication of Opinions in Federal and State
Courts, 67 LAW Ling. J. 362 (1974); C. BOLDEN, APPELLATE OPINION PREPARATON: A SELECTVE
BILiOGRAPHY AND SuRvEY (1978); Slinger, The Art and Science of Appellate Opinion Drafting: An
Annotated Bibliography, 1977-1987, 80 LAW LiBR. J. 115 (1988).
2. States that have created intermediate appellate courts since 1975 are Alaska (1980), Arkansas
(1979), Connecticut (1983), Hawaii (1980), Idaho (1982), Iowa (1977), Kentucky (1976), Minnesota
(1983), South Carolina (1983), Utah (1987), Virginia (1985), and Wisconsin (1978). North Dakota
established a temporary court of appeals effective July 1, 1987, through January 1, 1994. N.D. CNr.
CODE § 27-01-01 note (Supp. 1989).
3. See, e.g., Anstead, Selective Publication: An Alternative to the PCA?, 34 U. FLA. L. REv.
189, 189-90 (1982); Weaver, The Precedential Value of Unpublished Opinions, 39 MERCER L. REv. 477,
477-79 (1988).
4. 1988 CoNF. Sr. CT. ADxN. & NAT'L CENTER FOR ST. CTS., ST. CT. CASELOAD STATSTICS:
Am. REP. 17 (1990).
5. See Anstead, supra note 3; Weaver, supra note 3.
6. See, e.g., Prince, Law Books, Unlimited, 48 A.B.A. J. 134 (1962); Jacobstein, Some
Reflections on the Control of the Publication of Appellate Court Opinions, 27 STAN,. L. REv. 791
(1975). See also Questions & Answers, 83 LAw LEBR. J. 195, 204-09 (1991).

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