The second reason is that law is evolving, not stagnant. Over time, trends develop. When a particular court senses that its prior decisions on an issue are no longer in the mainstream, it may consider revising its holding, especially if the issue has not been settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. The decisions in other jurisdictions may enable lawyers to detect a trend and anticipate what local courts might do in the future. Stare decisis is a Latin term that literally means “to abide by, or adhere to, decided cases.” Courts generally adhere to stare decisis: When a court has laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certain set of facts, it will follow that principle and apply it to all future cases with similar facts and circumstances.
The judicial practice of stare decisis leads to judicial precedent, meaning that decisions of courts have value as precedent for future cases similarly circumstanced. These terms are often used interchangeably because they vary only slightly in meaning. The principle of stare decisis ensures predictability of court decisions, whereas judicial precedent is a process courts follow as a result of stare decisis. Judicial precedent is made possible by stare decisis.
Stare decisis is a Latin term that literally means “to abide by, or adhere to, decided cases.”