october 8 - Legal Decisions Making Part 1 Two visions of...

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Legal Decisions Making - Part 1Two visions of Judicial Decision MakingLegal FormalismLegal RealismLegal rules and doctrine determine the outcomein a case.The law provides judges with a lot of discretion so factors beyond legal rules and doctrine play an important role in determining the outcome in a case.Precedent (Stare Decisis) Part of Common Law legal systemReferring to previous decisions in order to adjudicate the case at hand if circumstances are similar. Supreme Court Appellate Courts Trial CourtsWhat’s Valuable about Precedent?-It’s a principle of justice that we should treat like cases similarly-Don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time-You don’t have to reevaluate cases all the time-It creates consistency and thus predictability-It maximizes the likelihood that decisions will be made correctly by exerting a restraining force on judges. PROBLEMS -Can be sticky, hard to change-Predicated on the idea that president should be law and practice… meaning it’s going to stick around and be hard to change-Bad precedents can continue to be law-What to do in a new situation that precedent doesn’t cover?-May be multiple precedents, how to decide?In order to overrule a precedent you have to have a similar case.Legal FormalismA judge hears a case and, maintaining an agnostic sense of what the outcome of the case should be, she..1.Prepares a comprehensive summary of all relevant facts2.Prepares a comprehensive summary of all relevant rules and precedents and the legal principles derived from them
3.Applies the legal rules or principles to the facts4.Arrives at a conclusion of decisionThe Myth of Precedent-Precedent seems to offer a clear guide to deciding cases when:-Statute is unclear-There is disagreement about its interpretation-But… no two cases are exactly the same-This means judges can read precedent loosely or strictly and then use it to justify their

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