Explain the Doctrine of Stare Decisis and How It Has Influenced the Legal System. Provide an Example

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Stare decisis is a legal term that refers to the doctrine of precedent that is well established in the common law – court decisions that are based on previous court decisions. The term is derived from a Latin expression that means “to stick to things decided” or “to leave the decision in abeyance”. The Stare Decisis principle is good because it is the foundation of the rule of law. It ensures the stability, integrity and predictability of the legal system and directs the court to deal with a case similar to a previous case. However, this doctrine is not always followed to the letter. For example, even in medieval England, common law courts ruled against precedents, which they considered “bad law” because there were no reliable written reports of these cases or because they felt that the judgments were not applicable to the case in question. Respect for judicial precedents also helps to make the legal and judicial system more efficient, as the courts do not have to consider the same legal issue over and over again in each similar case. Here`s an example: In the hypothetical case of Miss Lavender and Miss Primrose (Lavender v. Primrose), two women living in Ohio, Miss Lavender lent Miss Primrose a certain amount of money, with the agreement to repay her at some point. Miss Primrose has defaulted on her debts and refuses to pay.

Miss Lavender insists that Miss Primose not only repay her, but also pay interest on the long-outstanding debt. Stare decisis is the doctrine that courts respect precedents in their decisions. Stare decisis means “to stick to things decided” in Latin. For example, the Kansas state courts of appeals will follow their precedent, the precedent of the Kansas Supreme Court and the precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court. Kansas is not required to follow precedents from appellate courts in other states, such as California. However, when Kansas is faced with a unique case, it can refer to the precedent set by California or any other state that has established regulations as a guide to setting its precedent. However, this is not an absolute principle and the lower courts are not required to render the same judgment in a similar case.

Instead, it is a doctrine that guides the legal system on what is acceptable behavior and what is not. It sensitizes people in society to how to act according to social and legal norms. One of the main reasons why stare decisis has found a lot of support is that it is supposed to ensure the security and predictability of the law, as precedents created by previous decisions in previous cases guide the decision-making process. This way, people usually know what to expect when two cases deal with similar facts. License our cutting-edge legal content to develop your thought leadership and build your brand. The doctrine of stare decisis was established in the middle of the 19th century. In the nineteenth century, written documents of trials and essays were created, preserved and collected. Practice, of course, has made it much easier for judges to refer to earlier legal decisions that were considered precedents. For example, in Brown v. The Supreme Court ruled that segregation in schools is unconstitutional.

This set a precedent that made any school segregation illegal in the country, even though state laws require segregation in schools. In this way, the principle of stare decisis can be just as powerful, if not more so, than law-making. Stare decisis acts as a legal doctrine that allows a court to base its final judgment on precedent in comparable situations. A precedent is a previous decision or a decision in a court case. In other words, it orders the court to pursue a case similar to a previous case. According to jurists, stare decisis dates back to the 14th century. In the United States, “official reports of cases heard in various courts appeared in the early 1800s.” Since official reports serve as the basis for precedent-based decisions, the practice may not have been adopted immediately after the British colonization of North America. Several countries use stare decisis, but to varying degrees. Here are a few examples: The operation of stare decisis in our justice system has recently received some attention in light of recent landmark U.S.

Supreme Court decisions, in which the Court set aside long-standing precedents. It is helpful to understand what stare decisis is, how it works, and where its limitations lie when discussing their role in our legal system. One of the most famous examples of a precedent reversal is Brown v. Board of Education, where Supreme Court justices jointly ruled in a civil rights case against racial segregation in public schools after declaring it unconstitutional. This decision overturned the “separate but equal” precedent set in Plessy v. Ferguson of 1896, which stipulated that racially segregated public institutions were legal as long as facilities for African Americans met the same standards as those for white Americans. Stare decisis is a legal doctrine that theoretically maintains consistency between court decisions in similar cases. The idea is to streamline the legal system so that courts don`t waste time and resources trying to hear the same type of case from scratch every time. Think of stare decisis as the precedent principle – Current and future legal decisions should follow the examples of previous decisions. While we have found that some precedents can be overturned, this is very rarely the case. The strict application of stare decisis leaves no room for minor but often significant differences between two similar cases. It is usually very difficult to overturn precedents, even when new facts come to light.

Because of the consideration of setting precedents, this method of judgment promotes judicial fairness in that it provides protection against arbitrary discretion and the influence of external personal or political factors, since everyone knows that decisions are made on the basis of previous decisions. This doctrine also promotes uniformity of law in all legal systems. As mentioned earlier, U.S. Supreme Court precedents are followed by lower courts across the country, and the same decisions are expected regardless of location. It should be noted, however, that Roe v. Wade has also been the source of criticism of the stare decisis doctrine, with many legal scholars arguing that following the precedent set in this case has only led the Court to continue perpetuating a bad legal decision. Stare decisis is a Latin term and means “to stick to what is decided”. On the other hand, stare decisis is a legal principle that obliges a court to follow established precedents when deciding cases involving similar facts and issues. Since cases are judged on the basis of precedents, the judiciary is to some extent protected against external political or personal attacks or prejudices based on personal interests.

This reinforces the belief that common law court decisions are based solely on legal and neutral considerations, thereby facilitating the achievement of legal and policy objectives. There are two types of applications of this rule: the vertical gaze ensures that the lower courts respect the precedents set by the courts above them in the hierarchy of the same judicial system. On the other hand, the horizontal gaze ensures that a court follows its own precedents. Stare decisis became less strict in 1938 when a long-standing precedent set by Swift v. Tyson was cancelled in Erie Railroad Company v. Tompkins. U.S. courts have continued to uphold precedents for the most part, but courts are not bound by them (unless precedents come from higher courts) – courts still have the ability to overturn previous decisions at the same judicial level. Simply put, one serves as a (precedent) guide, while the other is the principle that obliges a court to follow the guide (stare decisis). That is, stare decisis is not a fixed rule.

While it is generally followed in the United States, courts can also overturn previous decisions and set new precedents. For example, prior to Brown v. Board of Education, in Plessy v. Ferguson, the decision ruled that the notion of “separate but equal” was not unconstitutional. While Brown v. The Education Committee`s decision set that precedent, only in part, because it concluded that segregation was unconstitutional only in schools. A precedent is a dominant interpretation of the law based on previous judicial decisions. Imagine a hypothetical law that says cycling on the sidewalk is illegal, but doesn`t clearly define what constitutes a sidewalk.

Now imagine there`s a dirt road on the side of the road, and someone is punished for riding a bike on it. Does this dirt road count as a sidewalk according to the law? The answer is not clear; The case is expected to take place in court, and the court`s decision would then inform future cases. The most famous reversal to date, Schultz notes, is Brown v. This decision overturned the separate but identical doctrinal judgment of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, which supported racial segregation. If the Court sets aside Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion, Dobbs v. Jackson Women`s Health Organization could be the next big deal to deviate from Stare Decesis. The decision is expected to be made in June 2022. The doctrine works both horizontally and vertically. The horizontal stare decisis refers to a court that adheres to its own precedent. For example, if the Seventh District Court of Appeals were to comply with the decision of a previous case of the Seventh District Court of Appeal, it would be a horizontal stare decisis.

A court engages in vertical stare decisis when it applies the precedents of a higher court. For example, if the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals were to comply with an earlier decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, it would be a vertical stare decisis. Or, further, if the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York were to stick to an earlier Second Circuit decision, it would be a vertical stare decisis.