From Forbes.com: On February 24 Tax Analysts did the unthinkable: It published an unpublished opinion from the Colorado Court of Appeals. This may seem uneventful. Unpublished opinions are routinely available from courts across the country, but not from the Colorado Court of Appeals. Although the court may issue 2,000 or more written opinions each year, 75 to 85 percent of them are issued as unpublished opinions and have historically been made available only to the parties in the case.
The term “unpublished opinion” is a bit of a misnomer. Opinions of the Colorado appellate court must have precedential value to be published. If the court designates an opinion that way, it is published and officially reported in the Colorado appellate reports and the Pacific Reporter, Pacific Reporter Second, or Pacific Reporter Third. If the opinion is not designed for publication (in other words, it is not considered precedential), it is nonetheless filed for purposes of the public record.
Federal and state courts both use unpublished opinions. For many years, deeming an opinion unpublished meant it was literally hidden from practitioners because it was not published in an official reporter. Now, however, unpublished opinions appear in Westlaw and Lexis databases and are readily available from other online sources (such as Tax Analysts). Except in Colorado.
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