State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > Wisconsin > 809 > 809.23


809.23 Rule (Publication of opinions).


(1) Criteria for publication.


(a) While neither controlling nor fully measuring the court's discretion, criteria for publication in the official reports of an opinion of the court include whether the opinion:


1. Enunciates a new rule of law or modifies, clarifies or criticizes an existing rule;


2. Applies an established rule of law to a factual situation significantly different from that in published opinions;


3. Resolves or identifies a conflict between prior decisions;


4. Contributes to the legal literature by collecting case law or reciting legislative history; or


5. Decides a case of substantial and continuing public interest.


(b) An opinion should not be published when:


1. The issues involve no more than the application of well-settled rules of law to a recurring fact situation;


2. The issue asserted is whether the evidence is sufficient to support the judgment and the briefs show the evidence is sufficient;


3. The issues are decided on the basis of controlling precedent and no reason appears for questioning or qualifying the precedent;


4. The decision is by one court of appeals judge under s. 752.31 (2) and (3);


5. It is a per curiam opinion on issues other than appellate jurisdiction or procedure;


6. It has no significant value as precedent.


(2) Decision on publication. The judges of the court of appeals who join in an opinion in an appeal or other proceeding shall make a recommendation on whether the opinion should be published. A committee composed of the chief judge or a judge of the court of appeals designated by the chief judge and one judge from each district of the court of appeals selected by the court of appeals judges of each district shall determine whether an opinion is to be published.


(3) Citation of unpublished opinions.


(a) An unpublished opinion may not be cited in any court of this state as precedent or authority, except to support a claim of claim preclusion, issue preclusion, or the law of the case, and except as provided in par. (b).


(b) In addition to the purposes specified in par. (a), an unpublished opinion issued on or after July 1, 2009, that is authored by a member of a three-judge panel or by a single judge under s. 752.31 (2) may be cited for its persuasive value. A per curiam opinion, memorandum opinion, summary disposition order, or other order is not an authored opinion for purposes of this subsection. Because an unpublished opinion cited for its persuasive value is not precedent, it is not binding on any court of this state. A court need not distinguish or otherwise discuss an unpublished opinion and a party has no duty to research or cite it.


(c) A party citing an unpublished opinion shall file and serve a copy of the opinion with the brief or other paper in which the opinion is cited.


(4) Request for publication.


(a) Except as provided in par. (b), any person may at any time file a request that an opinion not recommended for publication or an unreported opinion be published in the official reports.


(b) No request may be made for the publication of an opinion that is a decision by one court of appeals judge under s. 752.31 (2) and (3) or that is a per curiam opinion on issues other than appellate jurisdiction or procedure.


(c) A person may request that a per curiam opinion that does not address issues of appellate jurisdiction or procedure be withdrawn, authored and recommended for publication. That request shall be filed within 20 days of the date of the opinion and shall be decided by the panel that decided the appeal.


(d) A copy of any request made under this subsection shall be served under s. 809.80 on the parties to the appeal or other proceeding in which the opinion was filed. A party to the appeal or proceeding may file a response to the request within 5 days after the request is filed.

809.23 - ANNOT.

History: Sup. Ct. Order, 83 Wis. 2d xiii (1978); Sup. Ct. Order, 92 Wis. 2d xiii; 1981 c. 390 s. 252; Sup. Ct. Order, 109 Wis. 2d xiii (1982); Sup. Ct. Order, 118 Wis. 2d xiii (1984); 1991 a. 189, Sup. Ct. Order No. 96-10, 208 Wis. 2d xiii (1997), Sup. Ct. Order No. 01-04, 2001 WI 135, 248 Wis. 2d xvii; Sup. Ct. Order No. 08-02, 2009 WI 2, filed 1-6-09, eff. 7-1-09.

809.23 - ANNOT.

Judicial Council Committee's Note, 1978: As with Rule 809.22 on oral argument, a former practice of the Supreme Court is written into this Rule and formal criteria established for it. The trend toward nonpublication of opinions is nationwide and results from the explosion of appellate court opinions being written and published. Many studies of the problem have concluded that unless the number of opinions published each year is reduced legal research will become inordinately time-consuming and expensive. Some argue that even accepting the premise that a court may properly decide not to publish an opinion this should not prevent that opinion from being cited as precedent since in common law practice any decision of a court is by its nature precedent. Others argue that a court may try to hide what it is doing in a particular case by preventing the publication of the opinion in the case.

809.23 - ANNOT.

There are several reasons why an unpublished opinion should not be cited: (1) The type of opinion written for the benefit of the parties is different from an opinion written for publication and often should not be published without substantial revision; (2) If unpublished opinions could be cited, services that publish only unpublished opinions would soon develop forcing the treatment of unpublished opinions in the same manner as published opinions thereby defeating the purpose of nonpublication; (3) Permitting the citation of unpublished opinions gives an advantage to a person who knows about the case over one who does not; (4) An unpublished opinion is not new authority but only a repeated application of a settled rule of law for which there is ample published authority.

809.23 - ANNOT.

If it is desirable to reduce the number of published opinions, the only alternative to having some opinions unpublished is to decide cases without written opinions. This would be far worse because it would compound the problems of nonpublication and at the same time take away from the parties the benefit of a written opinion.

809.23 - ANNOT.

Section 752.41 (3) authorizes the Supreme Court to establish by rule the procedure under which the Court of Appeals decides which of its opinions are to be published. Sub. (1) provides for a committee of judges of the Court of Appeals to make this decision.

809.23 - ANNOT.

As a safeguard against any mistakes as to nonpublication, sub. (4) adopts the procedure of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in permitting a person to request that an unpublished opinion be published. [Re Order effective July 1, 1978]

809.23 - ANNOT.

Judicial Council Committee's Note, 1979: Sub. (4) is amended to delete the prior requirement that a motion had to be filed in order to ask the Court of Appeals to have one of its unreported opinions published in the official reports of the Court of Appeals. Requiring a motion to be filed led to confusion in some instances because the person requesting the opinion to be published may not be a party to the appeal decided by the opinion and uncertainty can occur as to who should be served with a copy of the motion and given an opportunity to respond. The requirement to file a motion has been replaced by the need to simply make a request to the Court of Appeals for publication of an unreported opinion. [Re Order effective Jan. 1, 1980]

809.23 - ANNOT.

Court of Appeals Note, 1997: A request under this paragraph [sub. (4) (c)] does not affect the time under sec. (Rule) 809.62 for filing a petition for review. As in the case of reconsideration of a Court of Appeals decision or opinion, withdrawal of an opinion renders that opinion a nullity. Accordingly, a petition for review of that opinion filed prior to its withdrawal is of no effect, except that the petitioner may incorporate it by reference in a petition for review of the opinion subsequently issued in the appeal or proceeding.

809.23 - ANNOT.

Court of Appeals Note, 1997: The Court of Appeals recognizes that many of its opinions are issued as per curiam opinions that should not be published under sec. (Rule) 809.23 (1) (b) 5., Stats. This amendment [of sub. (4)] establishes a procedure whereby a person may request that a per curiam opinion be withdrawn, authored and recommended for publication. The amendment also expressly states that an opinion issued by a single judge of the Court of Appeals under s. 752.31 (2) and (3), Stats., will not be published.

809.23 - ANNOT.

Judicial Council Note, 2008: Subsection (3) was revised to reflect that unpublished Wisconsin appellate opinions are increasingly available in electronic form. This change also conforms to the practice in numerous other jurisdictions, and is compatible with, though more limited than, Fed. R. App. P. 32.1, which abolished any restriction on the citation of unpublished federal court opinions, judgments, orders, and dispositions issued on or after January 1, 2007. The revision to Section (3) does not alter the non-precedential nature of unpublished Wisconsin appellate opinions.

809.23 - ANNOT.

Citing an unpublished opinion of the court of appeals subjected the attorney to a $50 fine. Tamminen v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. 109 Wis. 2d 536, 327 N.W.2d 55 (1982).

809.23 - ANNOT.

Sub. (3) does not ban citation to circuit court opinions. Brandt v. LIRC, 160 Wis. 2d 353, 466 N.W.2d 673 (Ct. App. 1991).

809.23 - ANNOT.

Citation to an unpublished court of appeals decision to show a conflict between districts for purposes of s. 809.62 (1) (d) is appropriate. State v. Higginbotham, 162 Wis. 2d 978, 471 N.W.2d 24 (1991).

809.23 - ANNOT.

A party's invitation to the court of appeals to consider an unpublished opinion, or even a naked citation to it, violates the letter and spirit of sub. (3). Kuhn v. Allstate Co. 181 Wis. 2d 453, 510 N.W.2d 826 (Ct. App. 1993).

809.23 - ANNOT.

Only the supreme court has the power to overrule, modify, or withdraw language from a published opinion of the court of appeals. Cook v. Cook, 208 Wis. 2d 166, 560 N.W.2d 246 (1997), 95-1963.

809.23 - ANNOT.

The rule against citing unpublished cases is essential to the reduction of the overwhelming number of published opinions and is a necessary adjunct to economical appellate court administration. Unless and until the nonpublication rule is changed, violations of this rule will not be tolerated. State v. Milanes, 2006 WI App 259, 297 Wis. 2d 684, 727 N.W.2d 94, 06-0014.

809.23 - ANNOT.

The noncitation rule and the concept of stare decisis. Walther. 61 MLR 581 (1978).

809.23 - ANNOT.

Publication of court of appeals' opinions. Scott. WBB July 1988.

809.23 - ANNOT.

Citing Unpublished Opinions in Wisconsin State and Federal Tribunals. Sefarbi & Zaporski. Wis. Law. Nov. 2004.