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Binding v Persuasive Authority

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Hello,...(hypothetical scenario)-A county court in Illinois is deciding a case involving an issue that has never been addressed before in that state's court's. The Iowa Supreme Court, however, recently decided a case involving a very similar fact pattern. Is the Illinois court obligated to follow the Iowa supreme Court's decision on the issue? If the United States Supreme Court had decided a similar case, would the decision be binding on the Illinois court? Please, explain.

Thank you for your time and energies in this matter.

Ron S.

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Always nice to see law schools back in session.

1) No, Iowa's ruling would not be binding because its a different state.

2) Most likely yes but it depends on the cases and decisions involved.

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"Is the Illinois court obligated to follow the Iowa supreme Court's decision on the issue?"

No. Authority from other state courts can be persuasive, but is never binding.

"If the United States Supreme Court had decided a similar case, would the decision be binding on the Illinois court?"

Yes. A court in State X is generally bound to follow decisions by all higher courts in State X and decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court because the USSC is the final arbiter of all matters within its jurisdiction. The USSC only has jurisdiction to decide matters of federal law (including constitutional matters). It doesn't have jurisdiction to decide matters of state law such as whether a particular party has the capacity to enter into a contract. State courts spend relatively little time deciding matters of federal law except as it relates to matters of constitutionality, so that is likely the only area in which a state trial court would be dealing with a matter that the USSC had previously decided.

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