In law, an opinion usually refers to a judge’s written explanation of the decision of the court.
Because a case may be heard by three or more judges in the court of appeals, the opinion in appellate decisions can take several forms:
If all the judges completely agree on the result, one judge will write the opinion for all.
If all the judges do not agree, the formal decision will be based upon the view of the majority, and one member of the majority will write the opinion.
The judges who did not agree with the majority may write separately in dissenting or concurring opinions to present their views.
A dissenting opinion disagrees with the majority opinion because of the reasoning and/or the principles of law the majority used to decide the case.
A concurring opinion agrees with the decision of the majority opinion, but offers further comment or clarification or even an entirely different reason for reaching the same result.
Only the majority opinion can serve as binding precedent in future cases.
See also precedent
Contrast with advisory opinion
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