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Oregon Education Ass'n v. Oregon Taxpayers United

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 11-07-2012
Case #: A143460
Brewer, J. for the Court; Schuman, P.J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A143460.pdf

Civil Procedure: Under the law of the case doctrine, if an earlier ruling was necessary to the adjudication of an issue before the court, it is binding and conclusive upon both the inferior court in any further steps or proceedings in the same litigation and upon the appellate court itself in any subsequent appeal or other proceeding for review.

In this consolidated appeal, defendants Oregon Taxpayers United, Oregon Taxpayers United Education Foundation, Give Seniors a Break PAC, and Bill Sizemore (OTU) challenged two judgments holding them in contempt for violating an injunction issued pursuant to ORICO. Plaintiffs OEA and AFT filed the contempt proceedings, arguing that successor organizations of OTU had violated paragraph 7 of the injunction by virtue of their initiative campaign activities. On appeal, OTU argued that the trial court erred in concluding that OTU were precluded from challenging the constitutionality of the injunction because they had an opportunity to do so in earlier proceedings. OTU contended that they were not precluded from raising a constitutional challenge to the trial court's interpretation of paragraph 7 because the issue of whether that interpretation was unconstitutional was neither litigated nor necessary to the adjudication of earlier proceedings. In AFT III, the trial court held that the injunction could apply to Sizemore and thus established that restrictions on Sizemore's political activities resulting from the application of paragraph 7 would not violate his constitutional rights. In AFT IV, the trial court determined that the injunction did not violate Sizemore's constitutional rights in the manner he asserted on appeal. The Court of Appeals thus concluded that the law of the case doctrine barred OTU's constitutional challenges as the trial court's decisions in AFT IV and AFT III were adjudicated in the same action as the underlying judgment that contained the injunction, and were decided by the trial court before the decisions in the contempt proceedings. Affirmed.