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Common law is judge-made law and consists of all the decisions that came before the case the judge is currently working on.
Judges must follow certain cases, such as those from higher courts within the state and those from the same court, or explain why the current decision is different from the previous caselaw. This is called binding precedence.
A judge might also look to past cases from other jurisdictions for help in making a decision.
Judges may also look to scholarly texts such as the Restatement of Law series, in order to determine what an outcome should be.
Judges also use their judgement, making decisions by balancing the equities of a given case.