Whether they had ever, at different times, pleaded for and against the same cause, and cited precedents to prove contrary opinions?
As to the decision of civil causes, or proceedings against criminals, their precedents are so few, that they have little reason to boast of any extraordinary skill in either.
These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities to justify the most iniquitous opinions; and the judges never fail of directing accordingly.
For instance, in the case already mentioned; they never desire to know what claim or title my adversary has to my cow; but whether the said cow were red or black; her horns long or short; whether the field I graze her in be round or square; whether she was milked at home or abroad; what diseases she is subject to, and the like; after which they consult precedents, adjourn the cause from time to time, and in ten, twenty, or thirty years, come to an issue.
There are no more uses of "precedent" in the book.
Show samples from other sources
Precedent set by the Supreme Court must be followed by all lower courts.
It could happen—possibly, unlikely, but there is precedent—that the river might sweep my body all the way to the ocean.