CITES BY TOPIC:  stare decisis

STARE DECISIS:  Lat: to stand by that which was decided; rule by which common law courts “are slow to interfere with principles announced in the former decisions and often uphold them even though they would decide otherwise were the question a new one.” 156 P. 2d 340, 345.  “Although [stare decisis] is not inviolable, our judicial system demands that it be overturned only on a showing of good cause.  Where such a good cause is not shown, it will not be repudiated.”  The doctrine is of particularly limited application in the field of constitutional law.  298 U.S. 38, 94.  See precedent.


PRECEDENT:  a previously decided case which is recognized as authority for the disposition of future cases.  At common law , precedents were regarded as the major source of law.  A precedent may involve a novel question of common law or it may involve an interpretation of a statute.  In either event, to the extent that future cases rely upon it or distinguish it form themselves without disapproving of it, the case will serve as a precedent for future cases under the doctrine of stare decisis.


United States Ex. Rel. Shore v. O'Leary, 833 F.2d 663 (7th Cir. 1987):  

"One foundation block of our judicial system is the principle of stare decisis which demands adherence to precedents.  Decisions are made in accord with previous authoritative decisions in similar cases emanating from one's own circuit and from the Supreme Court.  A lower court owes deference to those above it; ordinarily it has no authority to reject a doctrine developed by a higher court.  See, e.g., Thurston Motor Lines, Inc. v. Jordan K. Rand, Ltd., 460 U.S. 533, 535, 103 S.Ct. 1343, 1344, 75 L.Ed.2d 260 (1983) (per curiam); Perri v. Director, Dept. of Corrections of Ill., 817 F.2d 448, 451 n.4 (7th Cir. 1987)." 

[United States Ex. Rel. Shore v. O'Leary, 833 F.2d 663 (7th Cir. 1987)]


Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 1406:

Stare decisis.  Lat.  To abide by, or adhere to, decided cases.  

Policy of courts to stand by precedent and not to disturb settled point.  Neff v. George, 364 Ill. 306, 4 N.E.2d 388, 390, 391.  Doctrine that, when court has once laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle, and apply it to all future cases, when facts are substantially the same; regardless of whether the parties and property are the same.  Horne v. Moody, Tex.Civ.App., 146 S.W.2d 505, 509, 510.  Under doctrine a deliberate or solemn decision of court made after argument on question of law fairly arising in the case, and necessary to the determination, is an authority, or binding precedent in the same court, or in other courts of equal or lower rank in subsequent cases where the very point is again in controversy.  State v. Mellenberger, 163 Or. 233, 95 P.2d 709, 719, 720.  Doctrine is one of policy, grounded on theory that security and certainty require that accepted and established legal principle, under which rights may accrue, be recognized and followed, through later found to be not legally sound, but whether previous holding of court shall be adhered to, modified or overruled is within court's discretion under circumstances of case before it.  Otter Tail Power Co. v. Von Bank, 72 N.D. 497, 8 N.W.2d 599, 607.  Under doctrine, when point of law has been settled by decision, it forms precedent which is not afterwards to be departed from, and, while it should ordinarily be strictly adhered to, there are occasions when departure is rendered necessary to vindicate plain, obvious principles of law and remedy continued injustice.  The doctrine is not ordinarily departed from where decision is of long-standing and rights have been acquired under it, unless consideration of public policy demand it.  Colonial Trust Co. v. Flanagan, 344 Pa. 556, 25 A.2d 728, 729.  The doctrine is limited to actual determination in respect to litigated and necessarily decided questions, and is not applicable to dicta or obiter dicta.  See also Precedent; Res (Res judicata).

[Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 1406]