Mandatory Authority

Fundamental Cases on the Fourth Amendment by Adam J. McKee

When a lower court has no other legal choice but to follow the precedent set forth by a higher court, that authority is said to be binding on the lower court.  Only decisions from the same jurisdiction are binding on the lower courts.  If the Texas Supreme Court establishes a precedent, then all courts in Texas must follow it.  Courts in Mississippi, on the other hand, can freely ignore the rulings of the Texas Supreme Court.  When an appellate decision is binding on a lower court, it is referred to as mandatory authority.

While courts are not required to pay attention to cases decided by courts in other jurisdiction, these cases may make compelling arguments that are persuasive.  For this reason, cases from other jurisdictions are often offered as persuasive authority.  The Court may be swayed by persuasive authority but may go in a completely different direction.  Note that while trial courts at the federal level do occasionally publish decisions, this does not create case law.  In other words, the decisions of the trial courts do not create binding authority on any lower courts.

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Modification History

File Created: 07/30/2018
Last Modified:  08/10/2018



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