Quote – the burden of case law (2.0)

The Judges of this Court have, for a number of years, been concerned with the increase in the number and length of judicial opinions produced by this Court and other Courts throughout the country. . . .

But unlimited proliferation of published opinions constitutes a burden and a threat to a cohesive body of law. Even when the focus is confined to appellate courts, it is plain to every lawyer, every judge, and to most law students that many opinions are written that do not merit publication. Often the matter decided has no potential effect upon our knowledge of the law or its development, yet it results in a written opinion that takes the time and energy the judges could better spend in more attentively considering and developing resolutions of significant issues in other cases.

Besides, there are limits on the capacity of judges and lawyers to produce, research, and assimilate the sheer mass of judicial opinions. Those limits are dangerously near at present and in some systems may already be exceeded. Ten years ago there were estimates that published decisions of American courts approached two and a half million. Today this fiture is probably nearer three million. Common law in the United States could be crushed by its own weight if present trends continue unabated.

The collegial process of an appellate court requires consideration by all members of the court of all published opinions of that court. The burden of examining unnecessary opinions seriously constricts the time available for consideration of critical opinions. This results in an erosion of collegiality and a consequent impairment of a rational and cohesive enunciation of the law for the jurisdiction.

It is estimated that some 30,000 judicial opinions are being produced each year, plus approximately 12,000 decisions of administrative boards and commissions.

The courts cannot ignore this problem and continue to produce, and cause to be published, needless opinions of undue length. Members of the bar should be equally concerned with this question so that the absence of an opinion or the issuance of an unpublished opinion will not be understood as meaning that the Court has not given the case full and deliberate consideration. The determination of whether to write an opinion and if so, whether to publish it, is made after, and not before, a decision is reached on the merits. All cases are processed by the Court and decided on the merits in conference in the same manner.

Morea v. State 329 So.2d 527, 528 (Miss. 1976)

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