Why are CA Appellate Opinions Unpublished Anyway?

Timothy Kowal, Esq.
September 29, 2021

"I found the perfect case! The facts are on point, the law is on point...but goddammit it's UNPUBLISHED!" If you are a litigation attorney this undoubtedly has happened to you. But why this confounded Rule of Court 8.1115 against citing unpublished opinions?

Jeff  Calkins, recently-retired senior research attorney with the Fourth District Court of Appeal (Santa Ana), explains the reasons to appellate attorneys Jeff Lewis and Tim Kowal on the California Appellate Law Podcast. To the point that making everything citable would be administratively cumbersome, Tim thinks this is a "you problem," and that litigants are entitled to true judicial opinions rather than the equivalent of decisions by private judges.

The three attorneys also discuss how adjustments to stare decisis models (horizontal vs. vertical) might help.

What do you think?

Watch the clip here.

This clip is from the California Appellate Law Podcast episode 15, available here.

Tim Kowal helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at www.CALPodcast.com, and publishes a newsletter of appellate tips for trial attorneys at www.tvalaw.com/articles. His appellate practice covers all of California's appellate districts and throughout the Ninth Circuit, with appellate attorneys in offices in Orange County and Monterey County. Contact Tim at tkowal@tvalaw.com or (714) 641-1232.