abuse of discretion (denial of justice) – an adjudicator or appellate court’s failure to exercise sound, reasonable, and legal decision-making, unsupported by the evidence

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abuse of discretion:

1. An adjudicator’s failure to exercise sound, reasonable, and legal decision-making. 

2. An appellate court’s standard for reviewing a decision that is asserted to be grossly unsound, unreasonable, illegal, or unsupported by the evidence.  See DISCRETION (4). [1]

1. Decision by whim or caprice, arbitrarily, or from a bad motive which amounts practically to a denial of justice as clearly erroneous conclusion, one that is clearly against logic an effect of the facts presented. 5 Am J2d A & E § 774.

Abuse of judicial discretion, within the rule that an appellate court will not disturb the discretionary action of the court below unless the discretion was abused, is an exercise of discretionary power to an end or purpose not justified by, and clearly against, reason and evidence. Re Creane’s Estate, 201 Okla 354, 206 P2d 726, 9 ALR2d 524.

There is no hard and fast rule by which an abuse of discretion may be determined, but in general an exercise of discretion, not to amount to an abuse, must be legally sound, there must be an honest attempt by the court to do what is right and equitable under the circumstances and the law, without the dictates of whim or caprice. 5 Am J2d A & E § 774. [2]

1. A judicial or administrative decision so grounded in whim or caprice, or against logic, that it amounts to a denial of justice. [3]

denial of justice:

1. Int’l law. A defect in a country’s organization of courts or administration of justice, resulting in the country’s violating its international legal duties to protect aliens.  *  A denial of justice is a wrongful act under international law. — aka justitia denegata; dé de justice; refus de justice. [1]

denial of natural justice:

1. An unjustified and unjustifiable act that violates rules, principles, or notions of fundamental law. [1]

Related Terms:

arbitrary and capricious – a concept which permits a court to substitute its judgment for that of an administrative agency’s unreasonable decision which ignores the law or facts of the case. — aka arbitrary.

capricious (caprice) – contrary to the evidence or established rules of law; whimsical rather than logistic.


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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