Introduction to Legal Analysis, Weight of Authority & Dicta Syllabus Review ©  Professor Njeri Mathis Rutledge, LRW
Stare Decisis   stä’-rā dě-sī-sĭs <ul><li>legal doctrine when judicial opinions operate as law </li></ul><ul><li>short for...
What’s a Precedent? <ul><li>A court’s past decision, recognized as authority </li></ul>
Mandatory or Binding Precedent <ul><li>Refers to authority the courts are required to follow </li></ul><ul><li>To determin...
Persuasive or Non-Binding Precedent <ul><li>Refers to a case the court may consider, but is not required to follow. </li><...
Vertical System State courts must follow precedents from higher courts in the same jurisdiction Federal courts bound by hi...
  Court of Last Resort  Intermediate Appellate Court    Trial Court
Primary Sources of Law <ul><li>Common law  (judicial decisions) from Judges </li></ul><ul><li>Enacted Law (statutes, const...
Secondary Sources of Law <ul><li>Sources that explain or give commentary on primary authorities </li></ul><ul><li>Not cons...
Hierarchical Relationship of Primary Authority <ul><li>Constitutions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May place constraints on state ...
Which Has Greatest  Precedential Value <ul><li>A state statute  or  an opinion of that state’s highest court </li></ul><ul...
<ul><li>An opinion of the state’s highest court  or  ruling by a state agency </li></ul><ul><li>State constitutional provi...
Holding vs. Dicta <ul><li>Holding – statement in the court’s decision about the issues before it (the court’s answer) </li...
Holding vs. Dicta <ul><li>Dicta – remarks that are not essential to the holding </li></ul><ul><li>Dicta – can be statement...
Example, State v. Haley <ul><li>Fn. 5 The state contends that we answered this question in the affirmative in  State v. Pe...
Holding vs. Dicta <ul><li>The holding in a case can be formulated narrowly or broadly </li></ul><ul><li>When writing about...
Exercise – recognizing  holding & dictum
 
Dictum or Holding <ul><li>An item must be physically delivered unless physical delivery would be impracticable. </li></ul>
Dictum or Holding <ul><li>An item locked in a safe deposit box in a bank closed for the weekend need not be physically del...
Dictum or Holding <ul><li>A small, light, freely accessible item must be physically delivered in order to complete a valid...
Dictum or Holding <ul><li>To constitute a valid gift of personal property, the donor must manifest his intention to make t...
Analyzing Statutes
Statutes <ul><li>Defined – written law enacted by a legislature </li></ul><ul><li>Both federal and state statutes </li></u...
Locating Statutes <ul><li>Codes </li></ul><ul><li>Statutes are usually divided into titles, topical areas </li></ul><ul><l...
Annotated Code <ul><li>Some statutes, like cases published multiple places </li></ul><ul><li>Annotated code has text of th...
Statutes & Legal Analysis <ul><li>Thinking or writing about legal analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Begin with the statute </...
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Introduction to legal analysis sources law dicta

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Introduction to Legal Analysis Sources Law Dicta

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Introduction to legal analysis sources law dicta

  1. 1. Introduction to Legal Analysis, Weight of Authority & Dicta Syllabus Review © Professor Njeri Mathis Rutledge, LRW
  2. 2. Stare Decisis stä’-rā dě-sī-sĭs <ul><li>legal doctrine when judicial opinions operate as law </li></ul><ul><li>short for stare decisis et non quieta movere – </li></ul><ul><li>is a Latin term meaning : </li></ul><ul><li>“ to stand by precedents and not disturb settled points.” </li></ul>
  3. 3. What’s a Precedent? <ul><li>A court’s past decision, recognized as authority </li></ul>
  4. 4. Mandatory or Binding Precedent <ul><li>Refers to authority the courts are required to follow </li></ul><ul><li>To determine if precedent is mandatory you must determine: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>whether the earlier case arose out of the same jurisdiction as the current court </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>whether the earlier case was by a higher court </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>whether the case is factually similar applying the same law </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Persuasive or Non-Binding Precedent <ul><li>Refers to a case the court may consider, but is not required to follow. </li></ul><ul><li>Usually considered if the issue of law was not previously litigated in the particular jurisdiction, so the court will look to other cases for guidance </li></ul>
  6. 6. Vertical System State courts must follow precedents from higher courts in the same jurisdiction Federal courts bound by higher courts in the same jurisdiction
  7. 7. Court of Last Resort  Intermediate Appellate Court  Trial Court
  8. 8. Primary Sources of Law <ul><li>Common law (judicial decisions) from Judges </li></ul><ul><li>Enacted Law (statutes, constitutions, administrative regulations) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Secondary Sources of Law <ul><li>Sources that explain or give commentary on primary authorities </li></ul><ul><li>Not considered very persuasive, but help locate primary authority </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: treatises, hornbooks, law review articles, legal encyclopedias </li></ul>
  10. 10. Hierarchical Relationship of Primary Authority <ul><li>Constitutions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May place constraints on state statutes and case opinions that are contradictory </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Statutes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May constrain case law and administrative regulations or rulings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But a court may still interpret meaning of a statute or constitutional provision to determine if it applies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Case law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May constrain administrative decisions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Administrative decisions </li></ul>
  11. 11. Which Has Greatest Precedential Value <ul><li>A state statute or an opinion of that state’s highest court </li></ul><ul><li>An agency regulation or a state statute </li></ul><ul><li>A state constitutional provision or a state statute </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>An opinion of the state’s highest court or ruling by a state agency </li></ul><ul><li>State constitutional provision or an opinion from state’s highest court </li></ul>Example adapted from Linda H. Edwards, Legal Writing & Analysis (2003).
  13. 13. Holding vs. Dicta <ul><li>Holding – statement in the court’s decision about the issues before it (the court’s answer) </li></ul><ul><li>Courts bound by precedent are only bound by the holding of the prior cases </li></ul><ul><li>Courts are not bound by dicta </li></ul><ul><li>Holding is limited to the court’s statements resolving the question actually at issue (issues necessary to the result reached) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Holding vs. Dicta <ul><li>Dicta – remarks that are not essential to the holding </li></ul><ul><li>Dicta – can be statements about principles of law </li></ul><ul><li>Dicta – statements about how the law might apply in hypothetical facts </li></ul><ul><li>A judge may choose to follow dicta, (persuasive) but is never bound to do so </li></ul><ul><li>In some cases the dicta may be debatable </li></ul>
  15. 15. Example, State v. Haley <ul><li>Fn. 5 The state contends that we answered this question in the affirmative in State v. Peters , supra . The defendant in Peters alleged that his mother’s illness required him to drive her to the hospital. The severity of the defendant’s mother’s illness was not in issue, but we noted in passing that “the jury could have found [from the evidence] that the situation appeared to defendant to be life threatening.” . . . The issue in Peters involved the second element. Our brief discussion of the “injury” element was therefore dictum rather than a considered interpretation of the pertinent statutory language. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Holding vs. Dicta <ul><li>The holding in a case can be formulated narrowly or broadly </li></ul><ul><li>When writing about judicial decisions, choose your words wisely </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: for the holding try—the court held </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: for dicta try—the court stated, explained, or hypothesized </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Exercise – recognizing holding & dictum
  18. 19. Dictum or Holding <ul><li>An item must be physically delivered unless physical delivery would be impracticable. </li></ul>
  19. 20. Dictum or Holding <ul><li>An item locked in a safe deposit box in a bank closed for the weekend need not be physically delivered. </li></ul>
  20. 21. Dictum or Holding <ul><li>A small, light, freely accessible item must be physically delivered in order to complete a valid gift. </li></ul>
  21. 22. Dictum or Holding <ul><li>To constitute a valid gift of personal property, the donor must manifest his intention to make the gift. </li></ul>
  22. 23. Analyzing Statutes
  23. 24. Statutes <ul><li>Defined – written law enacted by a legislature </li></ul><ul><li>Both federal and state statutes </li></ul><ul><li>Local statutes from city or county government - ordinances </li></ul>
  24. 25. Locating Statutes <ul><li>Codes </li></ul><ul><li>Statutes are usually divided into titles, topical areas </li></ul><ul><li>Further divided into sections § </li></ul>
  25. 26. Annotated Code <ul><li>Some statutes, like cases published multiple places </li></ul><ul><li>Annotated code has text of the statute and research references. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Historical notes, case summaries, cites to secondary sources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unannotated code only has the text of the statute. </li></ul>
  26. 27. Statutes & Legal Analysis <ul><li>Thinking or writing about legal analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Begin with the statute </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Follow with cases interpreting the statute </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If a statute has been interpreted by the courts, discuss the relevant case law </li></ul><ul><li>If there is binding precedent interpreting the statute, explain how the interpretation applies to the facts of your problem </li></ul>

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