June 01, 2017

Dissenting

An inside look at the art of explaining why the winners of a judicial determination are wrong.

Hon. Paul E. Pfeifer with Robert L. Burpee

 Download a printable PDF of this article.

Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.

—Albert Einstein

Dissenting is an essential part of being a justice. Even the most mundane, go-along-to-get-along justice is going to disagree with fellow justices from time to time. Over the course of 24 years, I (Justice Pfeifer) was fortunate to have precious few mundane judicial colleagues, but I did encounter many who were wrong and I did have occasion to try to correct them. In essence, a dissent is an attempt by someone on the losing side of a judicial determination to convince the other side that it is wrong.

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