Exploring the Vitality of Stare Decisis in America

Debut Symposium Report for The Matthew Fogg Symposia on the Vitality of Stare Decisis in America

by Zena D. Crenshaw-Logal


View First 25 Pages: (free download)


Grassroots advocates, public interest attorneys, and legal scholars gathered in October 2011 at the University of Baltimore for the debut symposium of "The Matthew Fogg Symposia On The Vitality of Stare Decisis In America." Convening such a broad and in many ways diverse audience, requires the program series to be worthwhile academically, yet have populist appeal. Towards that end, the event website explains: "It is both scholarly and practical to examine the current vitality of stare decisis as a legal doctrine in America."

That we use Latin to describe the concept suggests it is complex, mysterious, and beyond the cares of most Americans. Yet stare decisis, sometimes called the "doctrine of precedent", arguably preserves what is among their most valued treasures, the legitimacy of America’s judiciary. Presumably our administration of justice remains stable, predictable, efficient, and welfare-enhancing by requiring courts to follow earlier resolutions of cases with comparable facts, circumstances, and/or law known as precedent.

The Fogg symposia combine panels of public interest attorneys and law professors to consider whether compliance with stare decisis is reasonably assured in America given certain prescribed factors. In gathering, we not only witness their analyses in the context of stare decisis, but observe how the overall exchange impacts the analysis of each participant. This book is a report on the effort, touted as the most inclusive, important examination of American courts.

About the Author

Dr. Zena D. Crenshaw-Logal is Executive Director of National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc., a grassroots legal reform organization that sponsors National Forum On Judicial Accountability (NFOJA); POPULAR (Power Over Poverty Under Laws of America Restored); and OAK (Organizations Associating for the Kind of Change America Really Needs).

Zena is especially committed to helping poor and other disadvantaged people access affordable and competent legal representation, appropriate judicial oversight, and important civil and criminal justice system reforms. Her specialties are organizational infrastructure and program development as well as administration.