Precedent (Political Science)

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  • The past cases that relate to the case being decided under a common-law system. This principle is known as stare decisis, Latin for “stand by what is decided.” It is unusual and highly discouraged for a judge to depart from precedent, but if he or she does do so, the judge is required to detail the reasons for his or her departure in a written decision. If there are no available cases on the legal matter at issue in the court's jurisdiction, similar cases or ones from nearby jurisdictions are presented in its place. Precedent serves as an essential guide for law under a common-law system, since the written laws are usually vague and ambiguous; the details of the law's spirit thus need to be ...

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