precedent

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precedent

Law a judicial decision that serves as an authority for deciding a later case

Precedent

 

in law, a decision delivered by a court in a specific case, the opinion for which becomes a rule that is binding on all courts of the same or lower instance in deciding analogous cases. Soviet law does not recognize precedent and does not permit the decision of criminal cases by analogy, holding that the judicial decision should be based on statutory law alone.

In some countries, including Great Britain, most of the states in the United States, Canada, and Australia, legal precedent is recognized as a source of law and lies at the foundation of the entire legal system. In accordance with the prevailing doctrine in these countries, the judge who creates a legal precedent does not create a legal norm but only formulates that which follows from the common principles of law inherent in human nature. In reality the judge may always reject the application of precedent, citing some insignificant features of the particular case in order to introduce an entirely new rule. The judge also has the freedom to interpret precedent and to select from an enormous number of precedents; in other words, there is an enormous potential for judicial discretion and arbitrary legal actions. In legal writing and in practice, systems of law based on precedent are often called systems of judge-made law.

In a number of bourgeois countries, including France, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Belgium, precedent is important for deciding questions of the application of law, filling gaps in the law, and recognizing custom and commercial practices. On the basis of precedent, existing legislation is supplemented, and statutory law is interpreted.

References in periodicals archive ?
Some realists conceptualize judicial decision making as judges reaching conclusions first, and then embarking on quests to identify facts and law supporting their desired outcomes, thereby undermining both predictability and credibility.
In the interests of promulgation, of spreading the law as widely as possible throughout the province and country in which it applies, the Crown freely permits us to copy legislation and judicial decisions.
In the thirty-one states that have not enacted same-sex marriage or recognized it by judicial decision ("Nonrecognizing States"), the characteristics that favored legislative recognition splinter and, in some places, vanish entirely.
Understanding this possibility requires seeing how judicial decisions such as Sullivan gradually come to shape people's attitudes, sometimes with unexpected consequences.
Kanani added: "The request of some lawmakers to consider Hawija events as genocide needs judicial decisions and evidence, and the Legal Committee will consider it if it reaches to judicial decisions.
The decision bypasses prior judicial decisions achieved by human rights organizations and the Israeli Peace Now at the Israeli High Court, on March 2012; to evacuate the settlers from shops in the market and return them to their Palestinian owners.
QUETTA, January 17, 2012 (Balochistan Times): Senator Humayun Khan Mandokhel has stated that government is not only avoiding implementation on judicial decisions but also ridiculing these decisions.
Each issue of the title, and its predecessors, "Land Use Law & Zoning Digest" and "Zoning Digest," summarizes 40 to 50 federal and state judicial decisions and legislative acts that pertain to planning and environmental management.
Law enforcement officers and administrators should be aware of the judicial decisions and statues in several states that require the recording of interrogations, the benefits of electronically recording, and obstacles to overcome when deciding to begin this technique.
The ethics panel also said candidates must clearly acknowledge the obligation to follow binding legal precedent anywhere it exists; cannot appear to endorse any other individual who is likely to stand for election or retention in any public office or any platform of a political party; and any commentary on past judicial decisions must be "analytical, informed, respectful, and dignified.
The grandfathering clause was necessarily flawed because the state constitution bans initiatives directed at reversing judicial decisions.
When we think judicial decisions are outside mainstream American values, we will say so," Frist said.

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