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. A commanding precedent is also referred to as a "Goose" case in Louisiana; "Spotted Horse" or "Spotted Dog" cases in Alabama; "Cow" case in Kansas; and "White Horse" or "White Pony" cases in Texas. 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.
Such a precedent is called on all fours when all four parts of the instant (or present) case are essentially the same as the mandatory precedent, or are very similar:
- The parties are the same, or have such great similarities as to have exactly the same standing.
- The circumstances involving the two cases are materially the same, or are so similar as not to matter.
- The issue is exactly the same, or if more than one issue exists, they are materially the same types.
- The remedy the plaintiff or petitioner seeks is of the same kind as in the past case.
By comparison, a case on point is one in which a case has factual circumstances and issues similar to the case being researched, but which has different parties seeking somewhat different remedies.
- 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, SSRN
- United States v. Gaber, 745 F.2d 952 (5th Cir. 1984).
- Hand v. International Chemical Workers Union, 681 F.2d 1308 (11th Cir. 1982).
- Somers v. Harris Trust & Savings Bank, 566 P.2d 775 (Kan.Ct.App. 1977).
- Wood v. Texas, 632 S.W.2d 734 (Tex.Crim.App. 1982).
- Morris v. Dearborne, 181 F3d 657 (5th Cir. July 16, 1999).