Commanding precedent

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In law, a commanding precedent is a precedent whose facts are "on all fours" with the case at hand. In other words, it almost exactly tracks it, sharing near-identical facts and issues.[1] A commanding precedent is also referred to as a "Goose" case in Louisiana;[2] "Spotted Horse" or "Spotted Dog" cases in Alabama;[3] "Cow" case in Kansas;[4] and "White Horse" or "White Pony" cases in Texas.[5] A legal rule can be "clearly established" without commanding precedent existing. For example, in the United States, a governmental official is generally protected by qualified immunity if his acts were objectively legally reasonable, but such protection may not apply if, in light of pre-existing law, the unlawfulness of his conduct would have been apparent to a reasonably competent official, even if no commanding precedent applicable to his specific behavior existed.[6]


  1. ^ Ruggero J. Aldisert (1990), Precedent: What it is and What it Isn't; When Do We Kiss it and When Do We Kill it? 17 (605), Pepperdine Law Review 
  2. ^ United States v. Gaber, 745 F.2d 952 (5th Cir. 1984).
  3. ^ Hand v. International Chemical Workers Union, 681 F.2d 1308 (11th Cir. 1982).
  4. ^ Somers v. Harris Trust & Savings Bank, 566 P.2d 775 (Kan.Ct.App. 1977).
  5. ^ Wood v. Texas, 632 S.W.2d 734 (Tex.Crim.App. 1982).
  6. ^ Morris v. Dearborne, 181 F3d 657 (5th Cir. July 16, 1999).