law of the case

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The “law of the case doctrine” provides that an appellate court's determination of a legal issue binds both the trial court and the court on appeal in any subsequent retrial or appeal involving the same case and substantially the same facts. The appellate court’s holdings on the questions presented to it on review become the “law of the case.” The purpose of the doctrine is to promote finality and judicial economy by minimizing unnecessary relitigation of legal issues once they have been resolved by the appellate court. Cases such as this one from Indiana explain that the law of the case doctrine precludes relitigation for all issues decided “directly or by implication in a prior decision.” However, the court notes where new facts are presented upon remand that materially affect the questions at issue, the court upon remand may apply the law to the new facts as subsequently found. Also see: res judicata and stare decisis

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]