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Introduction to the National Reporter System: Case Law, the Courts, and the Doctrine of Precedent.

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to the National Reporter System: Case Law, the Courts, and the Doctrine of Precedent."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to the National Reporter System: Case Law, the Courts, and the Doctrine of Precedent

2 Case Law: The Courts Trial courts are the entry to the court system. Trial courts are where –attorneys present evidence and make arguments, and –a judge or a judge and jury make determinations of law and fact. Appellate courts hear appeals of trial court decisions to determine whether there were errors of law in the trial court decision, such as in the admission of evidence or in jury instructions. (There may be more than one level of appellate court. A higher-level appellate court, such as a supreme court, hears appeals from an intermediate appellate court decision.)

3 Case Law: The Courts There is a federal system of trial and appellate courts. –District courts are the federal trial level courts. – Circuit courts and United States Supreme Court are the federal appellate courts. Each state has a system of trial and appellate courts. The number of appellate levels varies from state to state but each state has a trial-level court and at least one level of appellate court.

4 Federal Court System State Court Systems District courts (trial-level) (Southern District of New York, District of Minnesota) State trial-level courts Courts of appeals for the 13 federal circuits Most, but not all, states have at least one level of intermediate court(s) of appeal(s) State supreme court United States Supreme Court

5 Case Law: The Courts Appellate courts have control over trial courts in a specific geographic area or jurisdiction. Federal District of Minnesota cases are heard in the jurisdiction of the Eighth Circuit and its decisions can be appealed only to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. Decisions of the circuit courts can be appealed only to the United States Supreme Court.

6 Case Law: The Doctrine of Precedent (Stare Decisis) Precedents are prior cases in the jurisdiction that are close in fact or legal principles to the case in consideration. The doctrine of precedent dictates that decisions reached in previous cases in the same jurisdiction dealing with the same or similar issues should be followed unless there is a good reason to deviate.

7 The Doctrine of Precedent The decision of a court is binding authority on that court and on the lower courts in the same jurisdiction when deciding factually similar issues. The doctrine of precedent is founded on a sense of fairness and the belief that decisions should be consistent and not arbitrary so that the legal consequences of conduct can be predicted. Introduction

8 The Doctrine of Precedent The doctrine of precedent explains why attorneys need access to prior cases decided by the highest court in the jurisdiction. Cases decided in another jurisdiction, although not binding as precedent, may be a valuable source of legal reasoning for an issue not previously addressed in the jurisdiction. Introduction

9 Question The doctrine of precedent dictates that 1.Cases from other jurisdictions cannot influence a case in the jurisdiction 2.Case law in a jurisdiction can never deviate from precedents 3.Precedents in the jurisdiction should be followed unless there is a good reason to deviate 4.All of the above

10 Question The doctrine of precedent dictates that 1.Cases from other jurisdictions cannot influence a case in the jurisdiction 2.Case law in a jurisdiction can never deviate from precedents 3.Precedents in the jurisdiction should be followed unless there is a good reason to deviate 4.All of the above


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