Show Your Work

Poser Dan has posted the following quote from Ray Vaughn, a candidate for the Court of Civil Appeals:

Far too many times, the Court of Civil Appeals decides a case with three words, “Affirmed.  No opinion.”  What this means is that the Court ruled against the party who appealed the case to them and refused to even bother to tell that party why.  Considering that many people, especially in family law issues, will have their ONLY appeal to this Court, to blow them off this way is most offensive.  To get an “Affirmed. No opinion.” response is a huge slap in the face and a breach of the public trust instilled in these judges.  And due to the arcane rules for appealing from the Court of Civil Appeals to the Alabama Supreme Court, an “Affirmed.  No opinion.” decision makes that further appeal more difficult.  All candidates for the Court of Civil Appeals and all current sitting judges there should pledge to get rid of this insulting device.

That is an excellent idea. The need for puncuality at a golf course or a speaking engagement should not trump the litigant's need to hear an explanation for the decision.

The Court of Criminal Appeals also routinely issues summary dispositions. In habeas cases, federal courts have to defer to state court decisions, even on federal laws. That includes summary dispositions. So when you challenge one of these in federal court, the response is going to be "They did not explain the decision. Therefore the decision is correct. You lose."

In algebra class, you only got credit if you showed how you got the answer. The same rule should apply to judicial opinions.

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