You’ve lost your case. Or, perhaps worse, you’ve won and you didn’t get quite what you expect. In life, you’ve probably been given many chances to try again if things didn’t go your way. You might wonder, in fact, if the law allows for something similar. While you might think that you should get a chance to go for a do-over if a court case didn’t go quite as you expected, the truth is that it’s very rare to get to have the same case heard again. It’s important to understand the mechanics behind why this is so, and it’s also important to understand the exceptions to this rule.
Fairness in the Judiciary
If you stop to think about it, of course, it’d be terribly unfair to let people keep bringing the same case over and over again. If nothing else, you’d have a court system that would be eternally clogged up by the same cases. If you ask any lawyer, you’ll know that it’s hard enough to get a case on the docket as it is. If there was an ability to keep retrying the same case, you’d find that it would be impossible to get anything new heard.
Even if there were more judges, having cases heard again and again would mean that those with enough money could tie up their opponents in court forever. Nothing would ever actually be settled – people would just keep going until they were dead. If you don’t believe that, talk to a family court lawyer – some people will keep themselves tied up in litigation over small things forever if they are able to do so.
Conceptualizing Double Jeopardy
If you’re a fan of legal dramas, you’ve probably heard of the term ‘double jeopardy’. While this is a concept that actually only applies to being prosecuted, it does speak to the heart of the matter here. At the end of the day, it’s deeply unfair to allow a party to have a case heard again because it makes it impossible for people to get on with their lives. If you don’t have a definitive ruling, people will simply keep going until they bully their way into a victory. Bringing a case to an end, one way or another, brings closure.
Life has to go on after you are done with a court case. Even if you lose, you can begin things anew. If you are allowed to keep bringing the same matter to court, though, you can never move on. In some cases, this can grind a business to a halt or stop someone from getting life-saving medical care. Going back to court would, in fact, be quite unfair to all involved.
The Appeal Process
This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever have a case heard again. There is an appeals process, where you can run things up to the next level of the judiciary. This is not a process that you can undertake simply because you don’t like the judge’s decision, though. This is a process that happens because you found that there was some kind of abnormality in the ruling or proceedings that made the trial unfair or unlawful.
Realistically, you’re not going to appeal a judgment. It’s not only unlikely to actually be heard, but it’s incredibly costly. If you do feel like there was a real miscarriage of justice, though, the option is available to you. Most people are able to appeal because of some kind of misconduct during the trial or because there was an issue with a conflict of interest. Again, this doesn’t happen very often but it does happen often enough that you should be aware of the process. Talk to your lawyer to see if you have any chance to appeal.
In most cases, you can’t sue again just because you are unhappy with how a case turned out. Your award, or lack thereof, is going to be what you’ll get. If there was a major problem you may be able to appeal, but even that is unlikely in most civil cases. Instead, it’s important to talk to your lawyer to determine what you should do next. You may not like the answer, but it will likely be good advice.