Simply put, it binds courts to follow legal precedents set by previous decisions. Stare decisis is a Latin term meaning "to stand by that which is decided". Next Up. In common law legal systems, a precedent, or authority, is a principle or rule established in a .. of stare decisis. Stare decisis means to stand by things decided. Stare decisis defined and explained with examples. A legal doctrine in which a decision made by a higher court is adhered to by lower courts in future similar.


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Stare Decisis

An appeal court's panel is "bound by decisions of prior panels unless an en banc decision, Supreme Court decision, or stare decisis definition legislation undermines those decisions.

That district court needs to adhere to a decision in a case made by a Second District Circuit Court of Appeals. Conversely, that same federal district court need not adhere to a decision made by any district or appellate court in any other district.

The Second Circuit District Court may find that precedent to be persuasive, but the trial court in this stare decisis definition is not bound by that other districts' precedent.

Stare Decisis Doctrine: Definition & Example Cases

This decision becomes an example, or authority, for judges deciding similar issues later. Stare decisis is the doctrine that obligates courts to look to precedent when making their decisions.

These two principles allow American law to build case-by-case, and make our legal system stare decisis definition common law system. For example, let's say that Blue borrows Red's lawnmower while Red is on vacation. Blue doesn't ask Red for permission.

Blue accidentally breaks Red's lawnmower, but he doesn't tell Red. Stare decisis definition simply places the lawnmower back in Red's garage.

Stare decisis | Wex Legal Dictionary / Encyclopedia | LII / Legal Information Institute

When Red returns home and discovers the broken lawnmower, he demands that Blue buy him stare decisis definition new one. Balentine by this point all US jurisdictions save Tennessee, five other states, and the District of Columbia had adopted comparative negligence schemes.


Moreover, in American law, the Erie doctrine requires federal courts sitting in diversity actions to apply state substantive law, but in a manner consistent with how the court believes the state's highest court would rule in that case.

Since such decisions are not stare decisis definition on state courts, but are often very well-reasoned and stare decisis definition, state courts cite federal interpretations of state law fairly often as persuasive precedent, although it is also fairly common for a state high court to reject a federal court's interpretation of its jurisprudence.

Non-publication of legal opinions in the United States Nonpublication of opinions, or unpublished opinions, are those decisions of courts that are not available for citation as precedent because the judges making the opinion deem the cases as having less precedential value.


Selective publication is the legal process which a judge or justices of a court decide whether a decision is to be or not published in a reporter. Depublication stare decisis definition the power of a court to make a previously published order or opinion unpublished.

Stare decisis

Litigation that is settled out of court generates no written decision, thus has no precedential effect. Stare decisis definition one practical effect, the U. Department of Justice settles many cases against stare decisis definition federal government simply to avoid creating adverse precedent.

Res judicata, claim preclusion, collateral estoppel, issue preclusion, law of the case[ edit ] Several rules may cause a decision to apply as narrow "precedent" to preclude future legal positions of the specific parties to a case, even if a decision is non-precedential with respect to all other parties.

Res judicata, claim preclusion[ edit ] Main article: The law requires plaintiffs to put all issues on the table in a single case, not split the case. For example, in a case of an auto accident, the plaintiff cannot sue first for property damage, and then personal injury in a separate case.

This is called res judicata stare decisis definition claim preclusion "'Res judicata'" is the traditional name going back centuries; the name shifted to "claim preclusion" in the United States over the late 20th century. Claim preclusion applies regardless of the plaintiff wins or loses the earlier case, even if the later stare decisis definition raises a different legal theory, even the second claim is unknown at the time of the first case.


Exceptions are extremely limited, for example if the two claims for relief must necessarily be brought in different courts for example, one claim might be exclusively federal, and the other exclusively state.

Collateral estoppel, issue preclusion[ edit ] Main article: Collateral estoppel Once stare decisis definition case is finally decided, any issues decided in the previous stare decisis definition may be binding against the party who lost the issue in later cases, even in cases involving other parties.