The common law is in its essence case law. And this is so fundamentally beli~ved by the practitioners of the common law that, whatever their heads may tell them about the constitutional place of a statute to alter the common law, they cannot in their hearts accept the obvious meaning of a statute unless it is corroborated and expounded by a judge by means of a formal judicial opinion in a lawsuit. Reports of cases are and shall always be the foundation of the law. Moreover, the written reports of cases are the life blood of the common law because over time the memory fades and because different people have different memories of the same events and lawsuits and judicial opinions.
Miscellaneous Virginia law reports, 1784-1809 : being the reports of Charles Lee, John Brown, David Watson & David Yancey (W. Hamilton Bryson ed., 1992).