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Depublication of California Court of Appeal Decisions: ...Using Online Sources

This guide provides pertinent information regarding the rules for publication of appellate court opinions as well as information on how to determine whether a particular appellate case can be cited as legal authority.

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...Using Online Sources

Online Via the California Courts Website

Recent California court opinions that have been certified for publication or ordered published in the official reports are available for up to 120 days on the California Courts website.  Cases are listed by appellate district.  Keep in mind that Court of Appeal opinions are subject to depublication at any time during the 120-day period.  Check on the most current status of the case by clicking on the information icon (i) next to the case title.

Unpublished opinions are posted for 60 days on the California Courts website. In addition, Court of Appeal decisions (both published and unpublished) that have been granted review by the California Supreme Court are available for viewing.  NOTE: The list of cases does not appear to be updated regularly (i.e., even though the Supreme Court may have already taken final action, cases still appear on this list), so take care to check on the most current status of the case by clicking on the  next to the case title.

The California Courts website also features an Official Reports page, which allows free public access to California cases published in the official reports. This page is powered by a LexisNexis search engine and is updated monthly. Be sure to read all of the accompanying information before viewing cases on this site, including the following warning:  “The Official Reports page is primarily intended to provide effective public access to all of California’s precedential appellate decisions; it is not intended to function as an alternative to commercial computer-based services and products for comprehensive legal research.”

Westlaw and LexisNexis

The publication status of an opinion is readily available online on both Westlaw and LexisNexis.  As with the unofficial print reporters, the databases do not use such terms as “depublished.”  Instead, the databases indicate that the Supreme Court either granted a review or a rehearing (superseded) or that the opinion was not certified for official publication (decertified).  When using either LexisNexis or Westlaw, the researcher must recognize the wording used in the Rules and in Supreme Court orders in order to make proper judgments concerning the case’s use as precedent.

On LexisNexis, if a case has been superseded, depublished or certified for partial publication, this is indicated in the NOTICE section at the top of the opinion.  Review the SUBSEQUENT HISTORY segment as well as the body of the opinion to determine the status of the Court of Appeal decision.  A red stop sign also appears on all superseded or depublished cases at the top of the screen.

On Westlaw, the notations regarding status and subsequent history, such as “Review Granted” or “Not Officially Published,” are found in bold at the top of the screen on which the opinion appears. The Westlaw KeyCite red flag also appears on all superseded or decertified cases.

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