FAQs - Opinions

Q. How long does it take the court to decide cases?

The court's median disposition time for cases decided on the merits is about six months from notice of appeal to entry of judgment. Disposition times may vary widely from case to case.

Q. When are opinions available on the court's website?

The court's opinions are posted daily beginning at 2:30 p.m. and can be found under Daily Opinions

Q. How can I subscribe to receive the court's daily opinions?

You can register to receive either all opinions or published opinions only via email or an RSS feed each day.

Q. How can I find an opinion in a particular case?

You can search opinions by lead case number or by the last name of a lead party.  A text-search of the court's opinions from 1996 to date is also available. See Search Opinions for more information. 

Q. How do I register to receive electronic notice of an opinion issued in a case of interest?

A CM/ECF account is required for notification of case filings.  Counsel who have entered an appearance in a case will automatically receive a notice of docket activity.  Members of the public may request electronic notification of filings in appellate cases after registering for a Public Interested Party account.  See Notice for Cases of Interest for more information.

Q. How does the court decide what opinions to publish?

Local Rule 36(a) provides that opinions will be published only if the case has been fully briefed and presented at argument, and only if the author or a majority of the joining judges believes that the opinion satisfies one or more of the standards for publication:

  • It establishes, alters, modifies, clarifies, or explains a rule of law within this circuit; or
  • It involves a legal issue of continuing public interest; or
  • It criticizes existing law; or
  • It contains an historical review of a legal rule that is not duplicative; or
  • It resolves a conflict between panels of this court, or creates a conflict with a decision in another circuit.

Q. What percentage of opinions does the court publish?

The court publishes opinions in approximately 50% of cases heard at oral argument. The court issues unpublished opinions in all cases submitted on the briefs. Overall, 89% of the court's opinions are unpublished.

Q. What are the citation rules for unpublished opinions?

Rule 32.1, Fed. R. App. P., permits unrestricted citation of unpublished federal judicial opinions, orders, judgments, or other written dispositions issued on or after January 1, 2007. Citation of this court's unpublished dispositions issued prior to January 1, 2007, in briefs and oral argument in this court and in the district courts within this circuit is disfavored, except for the purpose of establishing res judicata, estoppel, or law of the case. Loc. R. 32.1. If counsel believes, nevertheless, that an unpublished disposition of this court issued prior to January 1, 2007, has precedential value in relation to a material issue in a case and that there is no published opinion that would serve as well, such disposition may be cited.