The Illinois Supreme Court lightened restrictions on Appellate Court opinions today. Appellate opinions no longer will be limited to 20 pages. And the number of published opinions from each of the five appellate districts has been lifted.
The Administrative Order under Supreme Court Rule 23 placed limits on appellate courts in 1994. Many practitioners grumbled about the restrictions, claiming they forced appellate courts to issue non-publishable orders instead of published opinions. Many lawyers consider non-published orders often to be less thoughtful rulings. Unpublished orders are not precedential and generally may not be cited.
This stands to be a positive turn of events – if the appellate courts use the relaxed Order to issue more published opinions that are not page restricted. We’ll see now whether the courts have become conditioned to issuing so many non-publishable orders, most of which do not work their way into the public literature. If the courts continue to issue lots of non-publishable orders — which apparently is still within their discretion — then we will not get the benefits of a softer SC Rule 23.