Arizona v. California

In Arizona v. California, 530 U.S. 392, 412, 120 S.Ct. 2304, 147 L.Ed.2d 374 (2000), the State parties had opportunities to present their preclusion argument at earlier stages in the litigation, but failed to do so. Id. at 409, 120 S.Ct. 2304. Despite this, the State parties urged the Court to raise the preclusion bar sua sponte. Id. at 412, 120 S.Ct. 2304. The Court noted that "judicial initiative of this sort might be appropriate in special circumstances." Id. It explained "this result is fully consistent with the policies underlying res judicata: it is not based solely on the defendant's interest in avoiding the burdens of twice defending a suit, but is also based on the avoidance of unnecessary judicial waste." Id. The Court declined to find special circumstances in that case and thereby significantly narrowed the field of what might constitute "special circumstances." Id. The State parties in Arizona argued the allegedly precluded issue could have been presented in an earlier proceeding, but deliberately was not. Id. at 407-08, 120 S.Ct. 2304. Thus, there was no contention a court had previously decided the issue presented. Id. at 412, 120 S.Ct. 2304. The Court explained "where no judicial resources have been spent on the resolution of a question, trial courts must be cautious about raising a preclusion bar sua sponte, thereby eroding the principle of party presentation so basic to our system of adjudication." Id. at 412-13, 120 S.Ct. 2304.