LawProse Lesson # 164: What’s the difference between a court’s finding and a court’s holding?

LawProse Lesson # 164: What’s the difference between a court’s finding and a court’s holding?

Lesson #164

What’s the difference between a court’s finding and a court’s holding?

Judges at any level make findings of fact and holdings or conclusions of law. Good legal writers observe the distinction and never say that a court holds on questions of fact. Ex.: Because the court finds that the jury’s finding is supported by the evidence, the court holds that Gibbons is entitled to recover punitive damages from Allred & Co. In appellate courts, properly, only holdings are affirmed, whereas factual findings are disturbed only when clearly erroneous, against the great weight of the evidence, etc., depending on the standard of review. Generally, it is not correct for an appellate court to say that it affirms a finding of fact. Next week: rulings vs. opinions vs. judgments vs. verdicts, etc. Further reading: Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage 362, 412 (3d ed. 2011). Black’s Law Dictionary 749, 849 (10th ed. 2014). Thanks to Justin Browne, Peter Haven, Rick Linsk, and Arthur L. Shingler III for suggesting this topic.

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