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This Article treats the order of decision on multiple issues in a single case. That order can be very important, with a lot at stake for the court, society, and parties. Generally speaking, by weighing those various interests, the judge gets to choose the decisional sequence, although the parties can control which issues they put before the judge.

The law sees fit to put few limits on the judge’s power, and properly so. The few limits are in fact quite narrow in application, and even narrower if properly understood. The Steel Co.-Ruhrgas rule generally requires a federal court to decide Article III justiciability and subject-matter jurisdiction before ruling on the merits. The Beacon Theatres-Dairy Queen rule requires a federal trial judge to avoid preclusion by giving first to the jury a factual issue common to the merits of both law and equity claims for relief joined in the same case.

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Decisional sequencing, Preclusion

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