(I realize I could post this at Law.SE, but the response rate there is quite hit or miss.)
What does "in dicta" mean in legal writing?
I checked the glossary of my paralegal textbook (by Statsky), and it says
(1) A statement or observation made by a judge in an opinion that is not essential to resolve the issues before the court; comments that go beyond the facts before the court.
(2) An authoritative, formal statement or announcement.
I'm not sure which one I should use. Those two meanings seem pretty different from each other.
Here are two examples of how I see the term being used:
While courts have routinely upheld defendants’
convictions in the face of these objections,10
courts have also sympathized with these
arguments, noting in dicta that the term
“victim” is best avoided.
There's a Nevada Supreme Court case that holds, in dicta, that you still need an annulment to get out of your bigamous marriage. Which Jeffrey and the trial court seize upon to hold that, yep, the parties were not in fact married — we're talking about Jeffrey and Patricia at this point — because Patricia never dissolved anything with Henry before marrying Jeffrey.
But the California Court of Appeal reverses. Holding that, no, that was just dicta, and in a case involving a putative spouse
Should I think of it as "in passing" and dicta by itself as meaning "commentary"?