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When the Court of Appeals issues an opinion

When the Court of Appeals issues an opinion, why do some say “For Publication” and others say “Not for Publication”? And what does this mean?

In Indiana, the Court of Appeals issues written opinions for every case that is taken up on appeal. However, each opinion is distinguished as “for publication” and “not for publication” (or “NFP”). The word publication is commonly meant to construe to mean making content available to the general public. In Indiana, all opinions, regardless of if they are for publication or not, are provided on the Indiana Court of Appeals’ website. Thus, the distinction of “for publication” and “not for publication” means something slightly different than the normal English language interpretation of “publication” means, since all opinions are publicly available.

Pursuant to the Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure, Rule 65, only those Court of Appeals opinions that meet the following criteria are “published” (note: ALL Indiana Supreme Court opinions are 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

the opinion is usually recommended for publication, or one of the litigants can request the opinion be published after it is issued as “not for publication.”

What does this mean to you? Generally, “not for publication” opinions only apply to the specific case they are written about. Meaning, whatever the Court of Appeals’ opinion says is binding only on those litigants. If a case is “for publication” it is binding law that all lower courts must begin to follow and all future litigants in Indiana, with similar cases, can rely on as the law.

We hope that you have found this information to be helpful. This is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your case involving an appeal, or whether you should appeal, CIYOU & DIXON, P.C. frequently handles appellate matters, and can help evaluate your specific case. This blog post was written by Attorney, Lori B. Schmeltzer.


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