What Are Some Examples of Stare Decisis?

A situation in which stare decisis would decide the outcome of a trial is when a Mississippi court attempts to try a person for desecrating an American flag. Because the Supreme Court already ruled in Texas v. Johnson in 1989 that the right to freedom of speech protects flag desecration, Mississippi courts cannot convict the person.

In the health industry, an example of stare decisis might involve a surgeon who removes the wrong limb from a patient, prompting the patient to sue him. If the patient wins, then other subsequent trials that consist of similar material facts would most likely follow suit and award the patient damages.

The translation of stare decisis is "to stand by decided matters." Effectively, this persuades courts to follow preceding court case decisions to standardize the way that they interpret laws and hand out punishments.

Two forms of stare decisis deal with the hierarchy of the various courts systems. The first form stems from the obligation that a lower, or trial, court has to follow the precedents set by higher, more powerful courts. The second form of stare decisis has to do with the obligation that the Supreme Court has to follow previous court decisions.