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The Nature of Courts
Courts are reactive and not proactive
U.S. courts operate under a precedential system, under the doctrine of stare decisis.
- Stare Decisis [Latin "to stand by things decided"]
- The doctrine of precedent, under which it is necessary for a court to follow earlier judicial decisions when the same points arise again in litigation
- Requires courts to follow the rulings of higher courts in their jurisdiction
Case Reporters in Print
A Printed Reporter - Click image to enlarge
Authoritative Texts: Case Law Reporters
- Opinions are published online and in books called “reporters”
- For the federal courts, each court level has its own reporter.
- For state and local courts, there is generally no reporter for the trial level, as there are usually no opinions issued at that level.
- This means no published opinions on trials that you would find online or in the library
Supreme Court Case
Click image to enlarge