University of Denver

An Opinion on Opinions

Report of the IAALS Task Force on State Appellate Court Opinion Review

In August of 2011, IAALS convened a national conference on appellate judicial performance evaluation (JPE)—Evaluating Appellate Judges: Preserving Integrity, Maintaining Accountability. Throughout the course of the conference, participants returned to the issue of evaluating appellate opinions. Participants agreed that, as the primary work product of appellate judges, written opinions should be reviewed as part of the evaluation process. What was less clear was exactly how such a review should be undertaken, by whom, and using what criteria.

In response to the need for an impartial, efficient, and meaningful method for evaluating appellate opinions as part of the JPE process, IAALS formed a Task Force on Appellate Opinion Review. The Task Force was charged with considering existing opinion review processes, discussing the merits of various approaches and establishing guidelines and recommendations for both states with existing programs for opinion review and those interested in establishing such a program.

Their final report contains broad recommendations, and model criteria and questionnaires.

Updated April 23, 2012