Using Case Law Court Hierarchy
Making A Decision • In order to make a decision, the court must follow the law: • Constitutional law • Statutory law • Administrative law • Case law from a court decision
Making a Decision • Past case law is precedent
Making a Decision … It is well settled that police officers, in order to legally forcibly stop and seize an individual, must have articulable, reasonable suspicion that the individual was involved in criminal activity (see People v DeBour, 40 NY2d 210, 223 ; People v McNair, 36 AD3d 1073, 1074 , lv. denied 9 NY3d 847 ). A seizure occurs when there is “a significant interruption with an individual’s liberty of movement” (People v DeBour, 40 NY2d at 216; see People v Ocasio, 85 NY2d 982, 984 ). • A court when using court decisions to make a current court decision looks at past case law from various courts.
Making a Decision • Not all courts are the same or equal.
What Is The Value Of That Court Decision? • Every court decision does two things: • It binds both parties to the decisions. • That is, both parties must follow that decision • It sets a precedent • It creates a decision that other court must either follow or think about.
(1) It Binds Both Parties To The Decisions. • When a court makes a decision, each party is bound by it. • Examples: • Trial Court motion is granted and an order is issued. • The losing party must follow that court order • Appellate Court hears appeal and reverses • The losing party and the lower court must follow that decision
(2) It Sets A Precedent • When any court makes a decision, it creates precedent. • Precedent is case law created by previous decision. • Does precedent bind other courts? • In other words, which courts who must follow that decision?
Which Courts Must Follow Other Courts Previous Decision (i.e., Precedent)?
Using Case Law • When a party makes an argument through pleadings and/or oral arguments, the party will use law. • When they use case law, they want to use case law that is mandatory or controlling on the court before it. • In other words, the law they present is law that the court must follow. • If it is not controlling, then the law is persuasive (i.e., not controlling).
General Rule for Using Cases • CONTROLLING: • All decisions from court higher in the court hierarchy are controlling on that lower court. • NOT CONTROLLING (Persuasive): • All decisions from a court lower in the court hierarchy are not controlling on that higher court.
United States Supreme Court Decisions • The United States Supreme Court is the final interpreter of the United States Constitution. • If the United States Supreme Court interprets the Federal Constitution, all courts in the United States are bound by these decisions — they must follow that decision
United States Court of Appeals Decisions • US Court of Appeals decisions must follow US Supreme Court decisions. • If the United States Court of Appeals renders a decision, • it is controlling on the US District Court • it is persuasive on the US Supreme Court
United States District Court Decisions • US District Courts must follow US Supreme Court and US Court of Appeals decisions. • If the United States District renders a decision, • it is persuasive on the US Supreme Court and US Court of Appeals. • It is not controlling on any court.
What This Means • If you are drafting a memorandum of law for the US District Court: • Cite • US Supreme Court and • US Court of Appeals Decisions
What This Means • If you are drafting a memorandum of law for the US Court of Appeals: • Cite US Supreme Court Decisions
New York Court of Appeals decisions • The New York Court of Appeals is the final interpreter of New York law, including the interpretation of New York statutes and the New York Constitution.
New York Court of Appeals decisions • All Court of Appeals decisions must be followed • by all lower appellate courts (Appellate Division or the Appellate Term) and • by all trial courts (courts of original jurisdiction).
Decisions of intermediate appellate courts • The intermediate appellate courts in New York are • the Appellate Division and • the Appellate Term.
Decisions of intermediate appellate courts • The Appellate Division hears appeals from the trial court decisions of • The Supreme Court, • The Court of Claims, • Family Court, and • Surrogates Court. • Appellate Term (can).
Decisions of intermediate appellate courts • The Appellate Terms hears appeals from decisions of • the NYC Criminal Court and • the NYC Civil Court.
Decisions of intermediate appellate courts • NY Court of Appeals decisions are controlling on all intermediate appellate courts.
Decisions of intermediate appellate courts • Decisions by the Appellate Division are controlling on • courts of original jurisdiction and • the Appellate Term.
Decisions of intermediate appellate courts • Decisions of the Appellate Term are controlling on courts whose decisions are appealed to it • NYC Criminal Court; and • NYC Civil Court.
Hierarchy Of Authority Between Departments • NY trial courts must follow decisions from the Appellate Division. • The Appellate Division is divided geographically into 4 Departments. • First Department • Second Department • Third Department • Fourth Department 4th 3rd 2nd 1st
What Happens When Two Departments Disagree With Each Other? • Is that possible? • Yes, each Department must follow the court of Appeals, BUT each Department does not have to follow each other. • First Department is not bound by the Second Department • What’s a trial court to do?
Rule • A trial court must follow their Department’s decisions.
Rule • If their Department has not ruled on the issue, they must follow another Department
Rule • If the Departments have conflicting rulings, then their decisions are not binding.
What Happens When Two United States Courts of Appeal Disagree With Each Other? • The Federal Court of Appeals is divided into 13 Circuits
What Happens When Two Federal Circuits Disagree With Each Other? • The same rules that apply to the New York intermediate appellate courts, apply to the Federal intermediate appellate courts
Procedure in a Trial Court • Follow Court of Appeals decisions
Procedure in a Trial Court • If no Court of Appeals decision, then follow your Department.
Procedure in a Trial Court • If your Department has not ruled on the issue, then follow another Department.
Procedure in a Trial Court • If the other Departments are in conflict, then there are no controlling decisions.
Procedure in a Trial Court • Follow Court of Appeals decisions • If no Court of Appeals decision, then follow your Department. • If your Department has not ruled on the issue, then follow another Department. • If the other Departments are in conflict, then there are no controlling decisions.