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The refusal by a judge to sustain an objection set forth by an attorney during a trial, such as an objection to a particular question posed to a witness. To make void, annul, supersede, or reject through a subsequent decision or action.

A judicial decision is overruled when a later decision, made by the same tribunal or a higher court in the same system, hands down a decision concerning the identical Question of Law, which is in direct opposition to the earlier decision. The earlier decision is thereby overruled and deprived of its authority as precedent.


v. 1) to reject an attorney's objection to a question of a witness or admission of evidence. By overruling the objection, the trial judge allows the question or evidence in court. If the judge agrees with the objection he/she "sustains" the objection and does not allow the question or evidence. 2) to decide (by a court of appeals) that a prior appeals decision on a legal issue was not correct, and is therefore no longer a valid precedent on that legal question. (See: objection, sustain)


verb abrogate, annul, cancel, decide against, gubernare, invalidate, make null, make void, nullify, obviate, override, overturn, refuse to sustain, reject, reject by subsequent action, reject by subbequent decision, renounce, repeal, repudiate, rescind, reverse, revoke, rule against, rule out, set aside, undo, upset, vincere, void
Associated concepts: overrule a decision, overrule a motion, overrule an objection
See also: abolish, abrogate, annul, cancel, command, disaffirm, disown, dominate, invalidate, negate, nullify, override, predominate, prevent, quash, reject, repeal, repudiate, rescind, subjugate, supersede, vacate, void, withdraw


to set aside the rule of a lower court. When achieved by a superior court in the Anglo-American system, the effect is retrospective. The term can be used of a statute that changes the legal effect of a decision. This is done from the date the statute comes into force.

Parliament can, of course, make the statute come into effect retrospectively, but this is something that is generally thought to be a dangerous form of legislation that may go against the rule of law.

TO OVERRULE. To annul, to make void. This word is frequently used to signify that a case has been decided directly opposite to a former case; when this takes place, the first decided case is said to be overruled as a precedent, and cannot any longer be considered as of binding authority.
     2. Mr. Greenleaf has made a very valuable collection of overruled cases, of great service to the practitioner.
     3. The term overrule also signifies that a majority of the judges have decided against the opinion of the minority, in which case the latter are said to be overruled.

References in periodicals archive ?
Today, the formal legal standard governing the decision to overrule is embodied in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v.
The Casey Court asserted that four alternative pragmatic considerations go into deciding whether to overrule.
The Casey Court went on to contrast its decision with earlier Courts' decisions to overrule Lochner (20) (employing Lochner as a short-hand for the Court's pre-1937 laissez faire jurisprudence) and Plessy v.
24) With notable exceptions, (25) less has been written about copper-bottomed overruling cases in the High Court of Australia, (26) notwithstanding the fact that the Court has regarded itself as free to overrule its previous decisions for a considerably longer period than its English counterpart has.
Harris concludes that, although judges in the cases under study did not explicitly affirm the principles underlying their decisions to overrule, those principles may nonetheless be discerned from the judges' reasoning.
The first such principle that Harris discerns takes the form of a threshold, or prima facie, requirement that a court's power to overrule may be invoked only where overruling would bring about some improvement to the law.
When the Court explicitly overrules a case, it is insulated from criticism because it can pretend that it is merely following what previous case law already requires.
In other words, when the Court overrules, it turns something bad (cases that refuse to apply the applicable law) into something good (justification for the overruling): The act of overruling can transform the statements written in a dissenting opinion into an authoritative source.
Thus, if an opinion overrules a case while reaching its ultimate judgment, the judgment can be said to include the act of overruling.
Justice Taylor's first rationale asserts that where a previous court's decision rested on false presumptions, or failed to take into account practical considerations, the current court should reexamine such a case, and, upon finding it erroneous, overrule it.
In the civil context, Justice Taylor used a similar rationale to overrule a previous decision that interpreted a provision of the Worker's Disability Compensation Act (WDCA).
First, throughout his decisions, Justice Young failed to undertake even one Robinson analysis when deciding to overrule a case.