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“Memorandum Decision” or “Published Decision”

“What’s a ‘Memorandum Decision’? Aren’t all cases published? I can look it up online?”

Every state appellate court in the United States has some differences between them based on cultural norms and unique judicial or societal needs, although all run to ensure due process of law. One unique facet of decisions of the Court of Appeals of Indiana is that they issue two distinct types of decisions: “For Publication” decisions and “Memorandum Decisions”. Further, the Court of Appeals of Indiana has ruled that an appellant’s due process rights are not violated if the Court of Appeals of Indiana issues a “Memorandum Decision” rather than a “Published Opinion”. To avoid confusion, you should know all decisions of the Indiana Supreme Court are published in the Northeastern Reporter.

In a sense, you might believe all decisions of the Court of Appeal of Indiana are published because they are available on-line. That is true. They are on the Indiana Court of Appeals and Supreme Court’s website as well as other sites like FindLaw. However, that is not what the designation signifies. A “Memorandum Decision” is so designated because it is not published in the official court book of cases, called the Northeastern Reporter, which itself is virtually digital and not used much in the hardbound book form anymore. But why the difference?

The “For Publication” decisions published in the Northeastern Reporter are cases that due to their facts and law: (1) establish, modify, or clarify a rule of law; (2) criticize existing law, or (3) involve a legal or factual issue of unique interest or substantial public importance. The other cases, namely the “Memorandum Decisions”, do not and are just routine cases. The three (3) judges who decide the case thus designate them as “Memorandum Decisions” when that is the case. This does not mean they are not important or do not bind the litigants, it just means they raise no unique circumstances that develop the law. Example of a Published Opinion.

However, sometimes the three (3) judges who decide the case cannot agree and one judge dissents. A judge who dissents from a Memorandum Decision may designate the dissent for publication in the official Northeastern Reporter when the criteria for a published decision exists. In addition, sometimes the appellate attorneys who handled the appeal believe the criteria are met. If that is the case, the attorney can file a Motion to Publish the “Memorandum Decision” within fifteen (15) days of the entry of the decision. The Court of Appeals has absolute discretion to grant or deny same. In other words, the Indiana Rule of Appellate Procedure include the bar and can meet their needs if the judges also then see the point of publication upon the filing of the motion. If granted, the decision will reflect on its caption the date publication was ordered. Example of a Memorandum Decision.

Over the years, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys have had a number of “Memorandum Decisions” published. In addition, over the years, the firm has numerous published decisions from the Indiana Court of Appeals and Indiana Supreme Court. Published opinions in the Court of Appeals of Indiana and then having those decided by the Indiana Supreme Court is the hallmark of a successful appellate practice. Specifically, the firm has “For Publication” decision in the Indiana Court of Appeals on civil and criminal matters as well as civil and criminal decision in the Indiana Supreme Court. We believe we have the diversity of experience to handle your specific appellate needs.

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Dixon & Moseley, P.C., is a law firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. We serve clients in six core practice areas: family lawappellate practicefirearms lawgeneral practicepersonal injury and criminal law.

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