One of the primary purposes of a judge’s opinion is to explain the court’s reasoning in a particular case. A judge’s opinion is not arbitrary, in the sense that a judge must give due consideration to relevant facts and rules of law for any legal issue. From a judge’s opinion, we are, therefore, able to know not only a judge’s conclusion but also why the judge ruled for one party over another. These opinions provide the court’s rationale in a particular case, which may later be used as precedent for subsequent cases that contain similar fact patterns. In Case 16-2, the judge provided several reasons to support the conclusion. The next two questions relate to the judge’s reasoning in Case 16-2.

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1. What reasons did the judge provide for ruling in favor of the defendant? Clue: To ensure that you have found a reason, ask yourself whether what you have listed answers the question: “Why did the court rule for the defendant?”

2. What aspects of the court’s reasoning were particularly strong or weak? (Remember that just because reasons are given does not mean that these reasons are necessarily strong.) Clue: Reverse the roles in this case and assume that you are the plaintiff’s lawyer. With which parts of the judge’s opinion would you still disagree based on the court’s reasoning? Would there be parts of the judge’s reasoning with which, even though you were the opposing party, you would agree?


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