Latin legal phrase?
July 22, 2013 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know the Latin (?) phrase for when a judge authors both an opinion AND a special companion opinion (concurrence or dissent)?
posted by mmiddle to Law & Government (10 answers total)
I'm not sure exactly which one you're referring to, but maybe you'll find what you're looking for in this wikipedia article on legal opinions.
posted by sportbucket at 12:37 PM on July 22, 2013

Can you give an example? I don't see how a judge can write both the opinion of the court and a concurrence or dissent.
posted by unreasonable at 12:56 PM on July 22, 2013

Response by poster: Me either; I'm just the librarian.
posted by mmiddle at 12:57 PM on July 22, 2013

Are you talking about a per curiam ("by the court") opinion? In that case, the ruling of the court is issued as a whole, with no judge identified as the author of the majority opinion. Judges are free to write concurring and dissenting opinions to which they sign their name. Here is an example.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 1:06 PM on July 22, 2013

Best answer: Authors both? Or signs both? Because it's not uncommon for a judge to sign both a majority opinion and a concurring opinion (and to have written one or the other of them). Writing both would be very unusual.
posted by jedicus at 1:08 PM on July 22, 2013

Best answer: There's no way for a judge to write both the "majority opinion" and to write a "dissenting opinion," by the way. In some courts, the judge who writes for the majority can also "concur" - NOT "concur in the result" - because by "concurring" the judge is merely signaling additional grounds upon which the case could be decided, in her opinion, beyond those enumerated by the court. J. Chin is doing that here. I've got no idea how often majority authorship + concurrence authorship occurs, however, or even whether all courts allow it.

You might also be thinking of a plurality opinion, where no one concurring opinion receives the number of votes needed to reach a majority, and there are often multiple concurrences in part, concurrences in part and dissents in part, dissents in part, etc.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 1:17 PM on July 22, 2013

Best answer: Conceivably, a judge could write a 9-0 decision for all but one part and then dissent on one part of the case. Usually, if that were how the votes fell, the chief judge would not assign that opinion to that author. But it could happen. I know of no latin or law latin or french law latin term for that.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:22 PM on July 22, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for mulling this over. It's likely an instance where the questioner perceived the concept so clearly that she assumed there was a word or phrase to identify it. These are all very helpful, though.
posted by mmiddle at 1:41 PM on July 22, 2013

Oh and the Latin term dubitante, which is used when a judge reluctantly concurs in a ruling, is close to what you're looking for. Here's a link to an opinion where Judge Sutton wrote the opinion of the court and wrote a separate dubitante opinion.
posted by Xalf at 6:34 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

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