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Quick Hit: Moore and the “Law of the Case” Doctrine

The Law of the Case doctrine prevents reconsidering an issue that has already been decided by the same court or a higher court in the same case.

Moore was found guilty in the past of a crime.  He testified at trial and the judge applied a sentencing enhancement for obstruction under USSG 3C1.1.  He filed an appeal.  The appellate court affirmed the district court’s application of the sentencing enhancement for obstruction, reversed another enhancement and remanded the case for resentencing.

The district court resentenced Moore without reconsidereing the USSG 3C1.1 obstruction enhancement based on the “law of the case doctrine.”  Moore appealed, stating that the district court was wrong for applying the sentencing enhancement for obstruction on resentencing.

The Law of the Case Doctrine:

“Under the law of the case doctrine, a court will generally refuse to reconsider an issue that has already been decided by the same court or a higher court in the same case.”

So in other words, the appellate court (in this case the Ninth Circuit) heard this sentencing argument and determined it was without merit.  The district court also said that they would not hear it again.  This means that the issue was resolved and barred from reconsideration.

There are exceptions to the “law of the case doctrine:

  1. The decision is clearly erroneous and its enforcement would work a manifest injustice,
  2. Intervening controlling authority makes reconsideration appropriate, or
  3. Substantially different evidence was adduced at a subsequent trial

The court stated that here, “We previously concluded that the record supported the enhancement [presumably on the first appeal], and no exception to the law of the case doctrine is applicable.”

The Ninth Circuit Affirmed the ruling of the District Court.

If anything here applies to you, contact us today.

At The Law Office of Jeremy Gordon, we fight aggressively for our clients. We are experienced, and know what it takes to present a successful defense in a federal criminal case. For prompt, courteous and skilled representation as your federal criminal defense attorney, contact us today to schedule a free phone consultation.
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