Implicit Holding Does Not Have Force of Stare Decisis

Conclusions implicit in a court’s ultimate decision do not have the force of stare decisis.  Cochran v. Chapman, No. 2070541 (Ala. Civ. App. Dec. 31, 2008).  "’For a case to be stare decisis on a particular point of law, that issue must have been raised in the action, decided by the court, and its decision made part of the opinion of the case; accordingly, a case is not binding precedent on a point of law where the holding is only implicit or assumed in the decision but is not announced . . ."[a]rguments based on what courts do not say, logically speaking, are generally unreliable and should not be favored by the judiciary."

The Court of Civil Appeals dismissed the Cochran appeal because the court lacked jurisdiction over it.  The Rule 54(b) certification that served as the basis for the appeal was improper because the order from the which the defendant appealed was not the resolution of a claim.  The order determined only that the parties had a common law marriage.  It did not address the plaintiff’s divorce action or his request for a division of property.  Alabama courts disapprove of piecemeal appellate review, particularly in divorce cases.