ACCA’s web site lists three kinds of opinions:  (1) Opinions of the Court; (2) Memorandum Opinions; and (3) Summary Dispositions.  I had always thought that “Opinions of the Court” meant published opinions. But I see that the Trigueros, Hudgins, and Watson “Opinions of the Court”–all issued in March–aren’t on WESTLAW while ACCA’s Fordyce and Eslinger opinions issued in May have already been published in West’s Military Justice Reporter.  Army Lurker, are you out there?  Can you please explain this one to me?  How do I know which ACCA “Opinions of the Court” are going to be published and which aren’t?

10 Responses to “Can someone explain the three kinds of ACCA opinions to me?”

  1. hah says:

    And some “summary dispositions” are full opinions. Go figure.

  2. DB Cooper says:

    Here is a quick guide – there are exceptions, but I invite anyone to argue that the guidelines below are not a good rules of thumb:

    (1) Opinion of the court: binding precedent because ACCA usually jams the appellant

    (2) Memorandum opinion: not binding but persuasive, and thus more likely to afford some relief to the appellant, precisely because the holding will have no binding effect; they are often tedious opinions on SJAR errors and other post-trial processing minutiae

    (3) Summary Disposition: usually nothing that merits an opinion, but every now and then ACCA ignores a clear and obvious error that could form a basis for relief; it is therefore usually the route by which CAAF sets aside the findings and/or sentence in Army cases

  3. Look, pal says:

    That’s a cynical view…

  4. Anon says:

    What can you expect at 0312!

  5. Look, pal says:

    So you’re saying DB was deep in the sauce when wrote that?

  6. Michael K says:

    Trigueros, Hudgins, and Watson should be on Westlaw because they are ACCA opinions that are binding for the Army. I bet Lexis-Nexis would have them (sad face)

    Nobody knock Memorandum Opinions, please. Those are usually very well written – and they are where the defense gets some love, and our arms are stretched out wide for future hugs. Memorandum Opinions are much like notes from mom hidden in our paper bags back in elementary school telling us we’re awesome. Not for wide distro to the rest of the lunch table, but they brighten our day nonetheless.

    Keep ’em coming.

  7. Southern Defense Counsel says:

    Thanks. I needed that to start my day. :)

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dwight, I believe all Army opinions (memorandum opinions) that are non-binding are now annotated as such on the first page. I am unsure if Summary Opinions are also annotated in the same fashion and the lack of publication on the electronic databases may be just an error. Interestingly, I believe the federal rules now permit citation to unpublished opinions and have been implemented (though sometimes half-cocked) into the local rules for each circuit. Not sure if the military courts have followed suit.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Of course, given how rarely those notes appear in our paper bags, we’d be forgiven if we thought mom didn’t love us very much.

  10. Article16 says:

    Lexis has ACCA summary dispos. Uh….is it cool to say dispos?