Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Acta Exteriora Indicant Interiora Secreta Definition:

Latin: The outward acts show the secret intentions.

Another rendering:

"By the outward acts we are to judge of the inward secrets."

In National Rifle Association of America Special Contribution Fund v. State of New Mexico, Justice Sutin of the Court of Appeals of New Mexico preferred:

"Acta exteriora, indicant interiora secreta - acts indicate the intention."

A description and eloquent context of acta exteriora indicant interiora secreta can be found in these words adopted by Justice Raum of the United States Tax Court in Pfeffer v. Commissioner:

"The judicial ascertainment of someone's subjective interest or purpose motivating actions on his part is frequently difficult. One method by which such ascertainment may be made is to consider what the immediate, proximate, and reasonably to be anticipated consequences of such actions are and to reason that the person who takes such actions intends to accomplish their consequences. This reasoning is implicit in the Latin maxim acta exteriora indicant interiora secreta, and in the more homely English adage actions speak louder than words."

In Re Song, the United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel preferred:

"Outward acts indicate the thoughts hidden within."

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