Presence Becomes Precedence

SirWilliamBlackstone

Professor Elizabeth Judge writes that “presence is precedence”.[1]

Judges decide present cases based on rulings from past cases (the rule of stare decisis). In deciding cases, judges look to the established legal canon their own personal canons (what they know).

Cases are given visibility by being incorporated into other cases through quotation, summary, and citation. The act of quoting and omitting cases in judicial decisions are acts of evaluation that reshape the legal canon.

In my opinion, the style of writing is just as critical as who the judge cites, omits, and quotes. Professor Elizabeth Judge writes that the more stylish a decision is, the more likely it is to be taught in school and referred to by other lawyers. Thereby reinforcing its visibility and probability of precedential value.

[1] Elizabeth F. Judge, “Precedent and the Individual Opinion: Judges Judging Judgments and the Creation of Law Canon” (July 31, 2008) Western Humanities Review.

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