Judicial Opinion Writing (2 credits)

This course focuses on the art of judicial opinion writing with emphasis on appellate decisions. The course will provide a general overview of the opinion writing function with emphasis on topics such as: opinion writing theory, opinion structure and opinion writing style. Opinion writing theory focuses on questions such as whether an opinion should be written, what type of opinion should be written, how opinion decision-making occurs (e.g., majority, concurring, dissenting), and so on. Opinion structure focuses on the anatomy of an opinion including standards of review, factual narrative, issue development and the ratio decidendi. Opinion writing style focuses on writing techniques: traditional, untraditional and the unusual. The course will briefly review the great judicial opinion writers, past and present, including discussion of some particularly noteworthy decisions. It is anticipated that some appellate judges and law clerks will speak on the subjects presented. Finally, the course will require students prepare an opinion after reviewing the briefs and oral arguments in a designated case. Prerequisites: None.