Posting Selected Trial Court Rulings: What a Great Idea!

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In written remarks accepting the Indiana Judges Association Award for reporting on the judiciary, Marcia Oddi gave a hint of things to come at the Indiana Law Blog. "What about the future? I could go on and on, but here is something of particular interest to this audience -- I'd like to post more trial court rulings. I was interested to learn that the State of New York does an official publication of selected trial court opinions each year, based on precedential usefulness and public importance. I'll be writing more about this in the blog. Please keep reading!"

What piqued my interest was the usefulness to practitioners to know how family court judges are ruling on particular issues. There are a number of trial court and jury verdict reports available to other civil law practitioners, but locally none cover family law decisions. These opinions are written and are public record, but not available online. We try to keep up with judges' thinking at seminars and by chatting with other members of the bar so we can better predict results and have more insight in how to craft a different argument if we are on the opposite side of current thinking in an unsettled area of law. Having more information would lead to better advice for clients, and perhaps more settlements. Just as interesting would be to know how particular judges are applying the law to the facts, especially in areas where discretion is huge, such as maintenance awards.

Obviously we, as practitioners, could not post decisions in our cases because of confidentiality issues, and there is no way I would ask a client for consent. However, I see no reason why we could not post decisions in other cases that we learn about, as they are public record. I would be very much interested in looking at decisions involving issues of first impression, maintenance decisions, and even attorney fee awards. Since I only want to set goals once a year, starting the process around the new the new year (hey, it takes the rest of the year to work on the list!) no promises are being made. Thanks, Marcia, for the interesting food for thought.

Also read Kentucky Law Blog's "Marcia Oddi's "Thank You" For Judges Media Award for ILB Was a Breath of Fresh Air"

Here's the entire acceptance speech:

"I am delighted to accept the 2006 Indiana Judges Association Award for reporting on the judiciary. I am very sorry I could not drive up to accept the award in person.

I want especially to thank Judge David Chidester of Porter Superior Court for nominating the Indiana Law Blog. He seems to have understood early on that a blog is just another medium for conveying a message, not that different from a newspaper or a radio station.

I started the Indiana Law Blog for a number of reasons:


One was to keep track of Indiana appellate decisions at both the state and federal level, and to put a spotlight on our courts.

Another was to bring together law-related stories from all over the state, and news from outside the state that might have an impact here, creating a kind of shared warehouse of knowledge -- I have seen too much of people in various counties re-solving the same problems.

And I wanted to help create an Indiana-wide legal community so no matter whether you are a big city lawyer or in an isolated rural county, whether you are located across the border from Chicago or Louisville, you can still access the internet and read material that might actually be important to you.

Also, and this was essential, I wanted to tie things together -- I didn't want to have to scratch my head and think -- I've read something like that before. Hence my hopefully very accessible archives, going back to 2003 and even before.

One more goal was to show the public that "law" impacts much of what we do and is not limited to court decisions or statute books.

A final goal was to be a spark for new ideas and new ways of doing things. For instance, over two years ago now the Indiana Law Blog received authority to post Supreme Court transfer lists every week. And the Indiana Law Blog has long argued for making not-for-publication opinions more available.
What about the future? I could go on and on, but here is something of particular interest to this audience -- I'd like to post more trial court rulings. I was interested to learn that the State of New York does an official publication of selected trial court opinions each year, based on precedential usefulness and public importance. I'll be writing more about this in the blog. Please keep reading!

Thank you again for your recognition of the efforts of The Indiana Law Blog."

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