It has become exceedingly common in our legal system that courts, in the guise of respect for precedent, compound upon errors. Legal precedents are written documents, but "[t]he reality we can put into words is never reality itself." As such, we seldom find a court decision that embodies the entire legal reality regarding the questions presented. In this respect, the legal system inherently suffers from a lack of what mathematicians call completeness. Each decision gives rise to countless inferences because what lower courts observe by reading the precedent is not the entire legal reality but an incomplete reality exposed to their method of questioning. In such a framework, "we may hope to understand [the precedent and correctly apply it], but we may have to learn at the same time anew meaning of the word 'understanding."'
The recently revived and expanded Kessler doctrine demonstrates how a particularly incomplete decision sets the stage for developing a chaotic jurisprudence by lower courts, where lower courts' interpretations and applications of the doctrine are no longer directed toward a unifying center.
Dennis D. Crouch and Homayoon Rafatijo,
Resorbing Patent Law's Kessler Cat into the General Law of Preclusion, 55 Akron Law Review 51
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/facpubs/1055