Jump to navigation Jump to persuasive Writings Not to be confused with Precedence.
In common law legal systems, precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts. Case law, in common-law jurisdictions, is the set of decisions of adjudicatory tribunals or other rulings that can be cited as precedent. In most countries, including most European countries, the term is applied to any set of rulings on law, which is guided by previous rulings, for example, previous decisions of a government agency. Essential to the development of case law is the publication and indexing of decisions for use by lawyers, courts, and the general public, in the form of law reports.
In civil law systems, past decisions may influence future decisions, even if they do not have the precedential, binding effect that they have in common law decision-making. The words originate from the phrasing of the principle in the Latin maxim Stare decisis et non quieta movere: «to stand by decisions and not disturb the undisturbed». A decision made by a superior court, or by the same court in an earlier decision, is binding precedent that the court itself and all its inferior courts must follow. A court may overturn its own precedent, but should do so only if a strong reason exists to do so, and even in that case, should be guided by principles from superior, lateral, and inferior courts. The second principle, regarding persuasive precedent, reflects the broad precedent guidance a court may draw upon in reaching all of its decisions. In the common-law tradition, courts decide the law applicable to a case by interpreting statutes and applying precedent, which record how and why prior cases have been decided. Judges may refer to various types of persuasive authority to reach a decision in a case.
In federal or multijurisdictional law systems, conflicts may exist between the various lower appellate courts. Sometimes these differences may writings be resolved and distinguishing how the law is applied in one district, province, division or appellate department may be necessary. Any court may seek to distinguish its present case from that of a binding precedent, to reach a different conclusion. The validity of such a distinction may or may not be persuasive on appeal. An appellate court may also propound an entirely new and different analysis from that of junior courts, and may or may not be bound by its own previous decisions, or in any case may distinguish the decisions based on significant differences in the facts applicable to each case.
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For example, if a 12-member court splits 5-2-3-2 in four different opinions on several different issues, whatever reasoning commands seven votes on each specific issue, and the seven-judge majorities may differ issue-to-issue. Quite apart from the rules of precedent, the weight actually given to any reported opinion may depend on the reputation of both the court and the judges with respect to the specific issue. Generally, a common law court system has trial courts, intermediate appellate courts and a supreme court. The inferior courts conduct almost all trial proceedings.
Otherwise, the doctrine of stare decisis makes no sense. The decisions of this court are binding upon and must be followed by all the state courts of California. An Intermediate state appellate court is generally bound to follow the decisions of the highest court of that state. The application of the doctrine of stare decisis from a superior court to an inferior court is sometimes called vertical stare decisis.
In the United States federal court system, the intermediate appellate courts are divided into thirteen «circuits,» each covering some range of territory ranging in size from the District of Columbia alone up to seven states. When a court binds itself, this application of the doctrine of precedent is sometimes called horizontal stare decisis. In federal systems the division between federal and state law may result in complex interactions. In the United States, state courts are not considered inferior to federal courts but rather constitute a parallel court system. When a federal court rules on an issue of state law, the federal court must follow the precedent of the state courts, under the Erie doctrine.
In practice, however, judges in one system will almost always choose to follow relevant case law in the other system to prevent divergent results and to minimize forum shopping. Under the doctrine of stare decisis, a lower court must honor findings of law made by a higher court that is within the appeals path of cases the court hears. Binding precedent relies on the legal principle of stare decisis. Stare decisis means to stand by things decided.
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For example, informed psychologists can participate in case reviews to facilitate better planning and decision-making and help to educate owl pudue staff about psychological aspects of care of dying individuals.
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