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Name: People v. Cooper
Case #: A108723
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 04/06/2007

The present action is the third time the case appeared before the appellate court. This time, appellant argued that because of the federal court finding in a habeas action that a Sixth Amendment confrontation clause error occurred during the trial, collateral estoppel and law of the case barred retrial. For collateral estoppel to apply, there must be a final determination on the merits. As a general rule, when there is a conviction, rather than an acquittal or mistrial, and the judgment is reversed on appeal or vacated in a habeas corpus proceeding due to error in the trial court, finality has not occurred and retrial is permitted. In this case, reversal for the erroneous admission of an out-of-court statement did not transform the conviction into an acquittal and the federal grant of the habeas petition did not bar retrial. The law of the case doctrine holds that when an appellate opinion states a principle or rule of law necessary to the decision, that principle or rule must be adhered to through the cases’s subsequent progress in the lower court and upon subsequent appeal. The doctrine is procedural and will not be applied if it results in injustice. In this case, as there has been no final adjudication that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the murder conviction, the law of the case does not apply.