[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday approved Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32.1 [PDF text; notice], which permits attorneys to cite unpublished opinions in the federal circuit courts. The new rule does not dictate the precedential value that circuits can assign to unpublished opinions, but attorneys will always be allowed to cite them to the courts. Currently, citing unpublished opinions is prohibited by the Second, Seventh, Ninth and Federal circuits and six other circuits discourage their use. The rule only allows unpublished opinions filed on or after January 1, 2007 to be cited; unpublished opinions filed before then may be handled within the discretion of the circuit.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito [OYEZ profile] and Chief Justice John Roberts [OYEZ profile], who respectively served as chairperson and as a member on the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure that drafted the rule, both supported the new rule before moving to the Supreme Court. Rule 32.1 will take effect in January 2007 unless Congress overrules it before December 1, 2006. The Legal Times has more.