A headnote; a short note preceding the text of a reported case that briefly summarizes the rulings of the court on the points decided in the case.
The syllabus appears before the text of the opinion. The syllabus generally is not part of the opinion of the court but is prepared by a legal editor employed by a private law book company that publishes court decisions to serve as a quick reference for a researcher. Some courts prepare the syllabus for their own decisions, but in many states the syllabus has no legal effect. Ohio is one exception, however, where the court-prepared syllabus is part of the decision and is considered a statement of the law. In most states, only the opinion of the court containing the original statement of the grounds for the opinion may be used in legal papers in a lawsuit to convince a court or jury of a particular point of law.