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doctrine whereby courts will refuse to consider matters of law that have already been adjudicated by motion or appeal in the same cause; reflects the courts’ unwillingness to reopen issues already finally determined in a suit.
EXAMPLE: a judge schedules a pre-trial hearing to decide what evidence will be allowed at trial. Each party is given an opportunity to make arguments, and the judge decides not to allow a statement by one of the plaintiff’s witnesses. At trial, the plaintiff attempts to argue for the introduction of the statement. Because of the pre-trial decision, the judge applies the law of the case doctrine and refuses to allow the introduction of the statement
Compare collateral [COLLATERAL ESTOPPEL]; double jeopardy. Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; ©
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