views updated May 21 2018

de·ci·sion / diˈsizhən/ • n. a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration. ∎  the action or process of deciding something or of resolving a question. ∎  a formal judgment: a Supreme Court decision. ∎  the ability or tendency to make decisions quickly; decisiveness: a woman of decision. ∎ Boxing the awarding of a fight, in the absence of a knockout or technical knockout, to the boxer with the most rounds won or with the most points. ∎ Baseball a win or a loss assigned to a pitcher.


views updated May 23 2018


A decision is the final determination by a competent tribunal of matters of law and fact submitted to it in a case or controversy. The decision is ordinarily in writing and comprises the judgment or decree in the case. The decision is not itself law, but only evidence of the law; and the value of a case as precedent derives less from the decision than from the reasoning behind the decision. The term "decision" is one of popular usage and not a technical legal term.

The Supreme Court reaches its decisions in conference following the oral argument of a case. A vote is taken after each Justice has had a chance to state his or her views. The decision is announced by means of a memorandum order or as part of a formal opinion.

In casual usage, the decision is often confounded with the opinion of the court, a usage sanctioned by certain law dictionaries and a number of court opinions. In precise usage, however, the decision is the conclusion reached by the court, while the opinion is a statement of the reasoning by which the decision was reached. In the simplest terms, the decision answers the question: who won the case.

Dennis J. Mahoney


views updated May 18 2018


A conclusion reached after an evaluation of facts and law.

As a generic term, decision refers to both administrative and judicial determinations. It includes final judgments, rulings, and inter-locutory or provisional orders made by the court pending the outcome of the case. Frequently, a decision is considered the initial step in a rendition by a court of a judgment in an action.

When referring to judicial matters, a decision is not the same as an opinion, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. A decision is the pronouncement of the solution of the court or judgment in a case, while an opinion is a statement of the reasons for its determination made by the court.