In The Good Wife (season 4), I think that the end of episode 6 is wrong, mainly in the facts, but I need someone with some legal knowledge to confirm.

As we are told, Cpt. Laura Hellinger has lost the Army law suit she had against her claimed rapist, and judge Kalhun, asks Alicia to help in the civil court.

At the end of the episode, we learn of a new witness who heard Cpt. Laura Hellinger and her rapist fight.

  • I am sure that this is new information - Isn't that grounds to open the military case again?
  • Shouldn't Alicia/Kalinda/Will (who's not in the episode) or someone else point that the military case can and should be re-open? -- THIS is how the episode should have ended!
  • I think you're going to have to ask someone with Legal skills about this one!
    – AlasdairCM
    Nov 19, 2012 at 16:56
  • I know, mentioned it in the question - first line.
    – Saariko
    Nov 19, 2012 at 17:17
  • 1
    I was inferring that you'll have to ask a legal Q+A site.
    – AlasdairCM
    Nov 21, 2012 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


Under civil law frameworks based on common law (which we have in the US), there is the doctrine of res judicata -- or "already judged." Once the appeals process is complete, or the time frame for filing appeal has run out, res judicata states that the suit cannot be brought again, even for new evidence (there are exceptions, such as proof of fraud). Its purpose is to strike a balance between the rights of the defendants and plantiffs as well as to make the courts run more efficiently ... kind of like the principle of double jeopardy under criminal law. The U.S. military has affirmed it holds to the doctrine of res judicata.

So in this episode, where the time for an appeal of the original case had likely long expired, it could not be brought again, as it would be dismissed as already ruled upon.

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