Stare Decisis

Author:Dennis J. Mahoney

Page 2477

(Latin: "to stand by decided [cases].") The DOCTRINE of stare decisis, one of the key elements of Anglo-American COMMON LAW, embodies the principle that PRECEDENTS are to be followed in the adjudication of cases. The substance of the law is revealed through the decisions of courts in cases between individuals or between an individual and the government, and adherence to precedent transforms the decisions in those cases into a settled body of public law. Once an issue of law has been resolved in a case by a court of competent JURISDICTION, the HOLDING in the case is determinative of the issue for that court and subordinate courts; and it offers guidance, as well, to courts of coordinate jurisdiction. Courts proceed, as a general rule, by following and applying precedents or else by distinguishing them (that is, by showing how the facts of the instant case render the precedent inapposite). Most frequently a court faces the question of which of two or more lines of precedent to follow. The doctrine of stare...

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