QUESTION TYPE: Principle
PRINCIPLE: If there’s a precedent:
Not contrary to basic morals ➞ Follow precedent
If no precedent:
legal views do not contradict public opinion ➞ judge may follow own legal views
ANALYSIS: These principle-application questions are simple. You need to take a bit of extra time on the stimulus. There are two rules:
- Follow precedent, unless violates public morals
- If no precedent, you can follow your own view, as long as you don’t contradict public opinion
All the wrong answers will violate one or both of the rules. Go through all five answers using the first rule, and eliminate any that violate it. The only way to violate it would be: a judge not following precedent.
Then go through the remaining answers and eliminate any where the judge applies their own legal view despite opposition.
- This violates rule two. Judges can’t contradict public opinion.
- This violates rule two. Judges can’t contradict public opinion. (The public wanted 12+ tried as adults, so it violates their views to rule otherwise)
- This violates rule one. Judges must obey precedent, as long as precedent doesn’t violate moral rules. Judge Wilson failed to do that.
- CORRECT. This works. There’s no precedent, so rule 1 is obeyed. And there are no public views, so ruling according to the judge’s legal views obeys rule 2.
- This violates rule one. Judges must obey precedent as long as those precedents obey the moral rules of society.
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