Citing Unpublished Cases to Washington Trial Courts: An Explanation for Attorneys and Litigants

 

Citing Unpublished Cases to Washington Trial Courts: An Explanation for Attorneys and Litigants

Unpublished Washington opinions are the choices from Washington authorized instances that aren't revealed within the Washington Appellate Stories. Nearly all of authorized selections in Washington go unpublished, making unpublished opinions an unlimited supply of persuasive authority. For a few years, litigants and attorneys in Washington State have suffered confusion relating to whether or not and after they can cite unpublished case opinions to state trial courts. This text seeks to resolve the confusion. appellate attorneys 1. Supply of Confusion & Nervousness. The confusion stems from a Washington appellate-level rule prohibiting the quotation of unpublished appellate-level opinions to appellate-level Washington State courts. Courts inside Washington interpreted this appellate-level rule otherwise. Some courts held litigants might by no means cite unpublished Washington opinions in any Washington State continuing, together with trials; different courts held litigants might cite unpublished Washington instances of all kinds in all non-appellate-level proceedings, similar to trials. The divergence in holdings induced litigants appreciable uncertainty and anxiousness. Late 2007 and early 2008 noticed the anxiousness rise to maybe its highest level. In September 2007, Basic Rule 14.1 banned the quotation of unpublished appellate-level opinions to any court docket within the state, together with trial courts. But the 2008 Washington Supreme Court docket case Oltman v. Holland America, 163 Wn.2nd 236 upheld a litigant's quotation of unpublished opinions to a trial court docket. The final rule and Supreme Court docket tried to deal with the identical situation, however gave seemingly contradictory steering. 2. Present Guidelines Resolving Confusion & Nervousness. Fortunately the 2007 normal rule and the 2008 Supreme Court docket holding are pretty easy to harmonize. The 2008 Supreme Court docket holding particularly utilized legislation from the time interval predating the 2007 normal rule. Thus the 2007 normal rule more than likely governs the place there may in any other case be a battle. The 2007 normal rule and subsequent case legislation present us with the next cohesive ideas: A. No Quotation of Unpublished Appellate-Degree Opinion's from Washington. First, Basic Rule 14.1(a) expressly forbids events from citing an unpublished Washington appellate-level opinion in a Washington continuing. The official drafters' feedback verify this normal rule bans quotation of appellate-level Washington instances to any court docket in Washington, together with trial-level courts. B. OK to Cite Unpublished Opinions from Different Tribunals in Washington. It seems there isn't a prohibition in Washington in opposition to the quotation of unpublished opinions from different tribunals in Washington, similar to Washington State superior courts and district courts. The drafters' notes from Basic Rule 14.1 corroborate this supposition, as does the holding from Oltman v. Holland America. C. Can Cite International Unpublished Circumstances if May Cite them within the International Jurisdiction. Unpublished opinions from jurisdictions exterior Washington might be cited in Washington courts to the identical extent as they may very well be cited within the jurisdiction they got here from. As said in Washington's Basic Rule 14.1(b), a litigant citing a international unpublished case is required to file and serve copies of the international case so the choose and different litigants can learn the case prematurely. These three ideas could also be considerably sophisticated. However at the very least attorneys and litigants can lastly decide with relative certainty which unpublished opinions events can and can't cite to a trial choose