Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Mandate Rule Definition:

An inferior court has no power or authority to deviate from the mandate issued by an appellate court.

Related Terms: Law of the case Doctrine

US flag In General Universal Systems, Justice Garza of the United States Court of Appeal wrote:

"The mandate rule requires a district court on remand to effect our mandate and to do nothing else.

"Further, on remand the district court must implement both the letter and the spirit of the appellate court's mandate and may not disregard the explicit directives of that court. In implementing the mandate, the district court must take into account the appellate court's opinion and the circumstances it embraces.

"Because the mandate rule is a corollary of the law of the case doctrine, it compels compliance on remand with the dictates of a superior court and forecloses relitigation of issues expressly or impliedly decided by the appellate court."

In Does I through III, Justice Kennedy of the United States District Court, District of Columbia, adopted these words:

"The law-of-the-case doctrine refers to a family of rules embodying the general concept that a court involved in later phases of a lawsuit should not re-open questions decided (i.e., established as the law of the case) by that court or a higher one in earlier phases.

"This includes the mandate rule under which an inferior court has no power or authority to deviate from the mandate issued by an appellate court. Thus, when a case is appealed and remanded, the decision of the appellate court establishes the law of the case, which must be followed by the trial court on remand.

"An issue is precluded by the law-of-the-case doctrine when a higher court has affirmatively decided the issue, be it explicitly or by necessary implication. Questions that merely could have been decided do not become law of the case. The law-of-the-case doctrine turns on whether a court previously decided upon a rule of law not on whether, or how well, it explained the decision."

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