Stevens, J., dissenting
was aware of that temptation at the time certiorari was granted. Nothing has changed since then to suggest dismissal is now more appropriate.
On the merits, I am persuaded that the Federal Circuit's routine practice is as objectionable as the practice we recently condemned in Cardinal Chemical Co. v. Morton International, Inc., 508 U. S. 83 (1993).10 While it is appropriate to vacate a judgment when mootness deprives the appellant of an opportunity for review, United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U. S. 36 (1950), that justification does not apply to mootness achieved by purchase. Judicial precedents are presumptively correct and valuable to the legal community as a whole. They are not merely the property of private litigants and should stand unless a court concludes that the public interest would be served by a vacatur.
Respondent argues that a policy of routinely vacating judgments whenever both parties so request will encourage settlement. It will, of course, affect the terms of some settlements negotiated while cases are pending on appeal, but there is no evidence that the number of settlements will be appreciably increased by such a policy. Indeed, the experience in California demonstrates that the contrary may well be true.11 Moreover, the facts of this case indicate that any
10 In Cardinal Chemical we held the Federal Circuit should discontinue its practice of routinely vacating as moot declaratory judgments of patent validity upon affirmance of a finding that the patent had not been infringed.
11 Barnett, Making Decisions Disappear: Depublication and Stipulated Reversal in the California Supreme Court, 26 Loyola (LA) L. Rev. 1033, 1073 (1993). In the years before the California Supreme Court endorsed routine vacation of judgments on settlement, there was a natural experiment in the California courts of appeals. While most courts routinely granted vacation, Division One of the Fourth Appellate District never did. Comparison of the rates of settlement in that court and the rest of the California appellate courts suggests that the denial of vacation did not discourage settlement. In fact, the rate of settlement in Division One of the Fourth Appellate District was twice as high as that in other appellate courts.Page: Index Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
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