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Reading is difficult. As a writer, I help the reader every way I can think of. As a reader, I work hard not to miss the big things in the middle of the road.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Of Memorandum Opinions and of Published and Nonpublished Opinions

Diana Tello of the Thirteenth Court of Appeals's Clerk's Office initiated me into some mysteries of how Texas state appellate opinions get published, or not. The applicable rule is Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 47.
First, all Texas appellate court opinions have to be designated as "opinions" or "memorandum opinions."  "Memorandum opinion" is the default designation, and there are some criteria for them. They are the ones that are supposed to be of the least public interest. A panel justice may require a designation of "opinion."Civil opinions have no further designation. Criminal opinions additionally have an order "Publish" or "Do not publish." A party may move to have the order reversed, but the order can't be changed after the Court of Criminal Appeals has acted, except that the CCA can always require that a "Do not publish" case be published.
What Ms. Tello said that I didn't know was that the decision of whether or not to publish a civil case was West Publishing Company's decision, rather than a court's.
A criminal memorandum opinion may have a "Publish" order, which I wouldn't have thought.

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