Sunday, March 18, 2007
Legal writing students often ask whether they can use unpublished cases. The entire concept of a case being "unpublished" when it is right there on the computer screen takes some explaining for a generation of students who can't even imagine relying solely on books for legal research. Once they understand the concept though, there's still that thorny question about whether they can use the case they found. "Well, yes sometimes, maybe, it depends" may be an accurate answer, but it doesn't make the legal writing professor sound particularly intelligent. To the rescue is a chart of the previous and current position taken on this topic by each federal circuit, with the exact wording of each circuit's relevant rule(s). After reading these rules, students should have more sympathy for your original reply.
hat tip: Prof. Diane Murley