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Unformatted text preview: THE COURT SYSTEM THE
Chapter 2 Chapter Issues Chapter
• Overview of the American court Overview system system • How an injured party can seek relief How in the courts in • Jurisdiction: Which court has the Jurisdiction: power and the authority to decide the case? the The Federal Court System The
• Federal District Court Federal – Courts of original jurisdiction – Use juries or judge as “trier of fact” – Trial courts deal in issues of fact U.S. Court of Appeals U.S. – 12 courts – Usual rule: There is the right to appeal to this court – 3 judge panels deal in issues of law • Specialized Federal Courts – Limited jurisdiction – I.e. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit--takes appeals from • U.S. District Court in patent, trademark and copyright cases • U.S. Claims Court • U.S. Court of International Trade • Administrative rules of U.S. Patent & Trademark Office • The Federal Court System The U.S. Supreme Court The
• • • • Highest court in the country Appellate review court—selects which cases to hear Cases usually heard by 9 justices Term begins First Monday in October in Washington, Term D.C. D.C. • Reviews cases from – U.S. District Courts – U.S. Courts of Appeals – Highest Courts of the States • Review is through Writ of Certiorari Review Writ – If writ not granted, lower court decision is final The Typical State Court System – Very similar to Fed. System
• State court of “original jurisdiction” – Where case is first brought; deals in issues of fact – Usually called District Court (but in NY, is called the Usually “Supreme Court”) “Supreme • State court of appeals State – Deals with appeals and issues of law – Usually called Court of Appeals • State Supreme Court State – Second appellate review dealing with issues of law – Usually called Supreme Court (but in NY, is called Usually “Court of Appeals”) If case involves a federal issue, it can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. can Special Jurisdiction Cts. – County, small claims, criminal, probate, juvenile. probate, Jurisdiction Jurisdiction
• Jurisdiction: Right of a Right court to hear & decide the case the • More than one court More may have jurisdiction over a given case over • Need jurisdiction over Need the subject matter the • Need jurisdiction over Need either persons or property persons • If jurisdiction is lacking, If judgment is null & void judgment Subject Matter Jurisdiction Subject State Courts
• A particular court resolves a particular subject matter, i.e. – Wills & Trusts: Probate Court – Divorces, Child Custody: Domestic Court – Municipal Matters: Municipal Court – Limited claims of usually $5000 or less: Small Claims Court If there is not a particular subject matter, case first goes to general If trial court trial Courts of original jurisdiction--where case is first brought Courts original Courts of appellate jurisdiction--where lower court decisions are Courts appellate where reviewed reviewed If there is no jury, judge decides the facts If no General right to appeal to at least one higher court General higher • • • • • Subject Matter Jurisdiction Subject Federal Courts
• Federal court jurisdiction is derived from the U.S. Constitution • Federal courts may hear cases involving : • • Cases in which the U.S. is a party to the suit; Cases involving a federal question (law);
No $ amount for cases involving federal law • Cases involving citizens of different states
• Diversity of citizenship jurisdiction Diversity jurisdiction • Amount in Controversy is for more than $75,000 Jurisdiction over the Person Jurisdiction
In Personam Jurisdiction In
• Over the person, usually Over through through – Residency (physical Residency presence in state) presence – Doing business in the state – Submission to the Submission jurisdiction jurisdiction – See “The ‘Long Arm’ of See the Law “ the – Summons through service of process or substituted service service • Out of state defendants – Jurisdiction is more Jurisdiction difficult difficult – Serve them while in Serve the state the – May not “trick” them May to get into the state for service of process for – Long-arm statutes
• See Exhibit 2.4 • Aimed usually at Aimed nonresident businesses nonresident State of Oregon v. Lillard (Personal Jurisdiction through Personal
Minimum Contacts-Long-Arm) Minimum
• Killum (mother is Lillard) of Killum California was recruited for California basketball by Oregon State (OSU) in 1990 (OSU) In summer of 1991, he In suffered a stroke when playing with friends; was given anticoagulants & told to avoid physically demanding activities activities In September 1991 OSU In athletic trainer & athletic director assured Lillard that son would receive medical attention attention • • • • • • December 1991 OSU doctors December reduced anticoagulants; Killum begins to play Killum January 1992 Killum travels January to UCLA & USC; suffers stroke and dies stroke Lillard brings wrongful death Lillard suit in California State of Oregon argues: lack State of personal jurisdiction in CA of Trial court rules against Trial State; it appeals State; Held: Minimum contacts Held: through recruiting in CA through • • Concurrent Jurisdiction Concurrent
• Federal and state courts Federal have exclusive jurisdiction over some jurisdiction matters; however matters; • Sometimes both state & Sometimes federal courts have jurisdiction (diversity) jurisdiction • Plaintiff may bring suit Plaintiff in either court system in • If plaintiff chooses state If court, defendant has right to remove to federal court (right of removal), but not visa removal), versa versa Jurisdiction Based on Power Over Property Over
• In rem jurisdiction – The dispute between the parties is over property – Where property is located creates jurisdiction – Whether the defendant-property owner is within the Whether jurisdiction does not matter jurisdiction – Tangible property creates in rem jurisdiction--i.e. real estate, Tangible personal property personal – Intangible property creates in rem--i.e. bank accounts, stocks Intangible in – If property is removed to another state, no in rem jurisdiction If in Quasi in rem jurisdiction (IGNORE) – Defendant’s property is attached to pay for unrelated matter – Ownership of property within the state is basis of jurisdiction – Decision in quasi in rem binds the parties themselves Decision quasi • Venue Venue
• Venue: Appropriate Appropriate geographical location geographical of the court that has jurisdiction jurisdiction • In controversial or In well-publicized cases, defendants will ask for change of venue change
• Doctrine of forum non conveniens: Either party conveniens may request a change of venue to a more convenient court that could hear the case. Court will consider such issues as
– Where actions of case Where take place take – Where witnesses are Where located located – Unfair burdens to parties Judicial Officials
• Federal Judges Federal – President nominates – Confirmed by U.S. Senate Confirmed majority vote majority – Removed from office only Removed only if Congress impeaches them them – About 1200 federal judges – Selection process wants to Selection guarantee that judges are nonpartisan nonpartisan • State Judicial Officials – Chosen by variety of Chosen methods – Elected, appointed or Elected, mix of both processes mix – Most serve a fixed Most term, which ranges from 1-14 years + more in some states more • Justices must apply law Justices evenly/consistently evenly/consistently State Judges and the Doctrine of Judicial Immunity Judicial
• State Judicial Officials
– Judges chosen by variety of methods – Unlike federal court, most state judges serve fixed terms. – State supreme court judges are appointed in 9 states; elected in 21 states;elected by the legislature in 3 states and initially appointed in 17 states, then run for retention. • Judicial Immunity
– A judge is absolutely immune from suit for damages for judicial acts taken within his/her jurisdiction. – Applies even in action is excessive or malicious – Purpose: to protect judges from retaliatory suits against them – Purpose: To protect the system from undue influence on judicial decision-making Applying Appropriate Law in Federal Court Court
• Issue: When there is diversity of citizenship, which substantive law should the federal court apply? • Ex: Smith & Jones have contract dispute; Smith is from Arizona; Jones from California. Which law applies?
• See Erie v. Tompkins End of Chapter 2 Applying Appropriate Law in State Court Court
• • • Incidents of the case take Incidents place in more than one state place Conflict of laws rules apply Rules vary according to Rules nature of dispute, i.e. nature
– Contract cases: Laws of state in which contract was made will be applied – Tort cases: Laws of state where tort takes place – States try to look at interests of the parties, gov’t, policies • General rule: Laws apply for General state that has with most “significant interest”
See Hughes v. Wal-Mart Stores • Cyberlaw: The Long Arm of the Internet
• When does a web site advertiser in nationwide sales When become subject to another state’s jurisdiction? become • Generally personal jurisdiction occurs when defendant Generally is engaged in”continuous business” in a state. is • No jurisdiction if contact with a forum is “only No informational” (GTE v. Bellsouth , 2000) informational” • No jurisdiction if web site gives information about No sales, allows customers to download forms and provides email address for inquiries (Mink. V. AAAA Devel. LLC, 1999) 1999) • Unclear area re: how much sale activity needed.
– Ex: One low cost item is not “active business”, esp. if buyer Ex: initiates the contact. initiates The “Long Arm” of the Law The
• Dr. Alvarez citizen of Mexico • U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) believes he U.S. tortured & murdered an agent tortured • Alvarez is kidnapped from Mexico with knowledge of Alvarez DEA & taken to El Paso, TX & is arrested DEA • Alvarez says that U.S./Mexico Extradition Treaty is Alvarez violated violated • Trial court dismisses the case; Alvarez returns to Trial Mexico Mexico • Supreme Court reverses • Alvarez is forced to stand trial under U.S. criminal law The Litigation Process The
• • Civil Litigation: Process to Civil resolve disputes Civil Procedure – Plaintiff--claims damages Plaintiff--claims before court before – Defendant--defends Defendant--defends against plaintiff against – States develop own States procedural rules procedural
• Often similar to Federal Often Rules of Civil Procedure Rules Territorial Jurisdiction Territorial “Minimum Contacts”
• “Transacting business” within the state • Landmark case--International Shoe Company v. International Washington ( Supreme Court, 1945) Washington • Legal contact--legal “nexus” • Examples of “minimum contacts” within a state: Examples – Sales office – Sales representative(s) – Selling product – Advertising – Placing product in specific markets • See State of Oregon v. Lillard See State Erie RR Co. v. Tompkins, 1938
Which Law Applies? Which
• • • • • • • Protruding object from train Protruding injures Tompkins injures Tompkins--PA citizen Erie--incorporated in NY Erie--incorporated Accident--in PA If federal common law If applies: Erie is liable applies: If PA common law: If Tompkins trespassed & Erie is not liable is Held: Concept of federal Held: common law in diversity of citizenship cases is ended. PA law applies. Tompkins is a trespasser; Erie not liable. trespasser; Hughes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
(8th Circuit, 2001)
• • • • • • • • • • • Hughes buys Rubbermaid gasoline container at Wal-Mart in Louisiana. He pours diesel fuel onto stumps to burn; the fuel in the container explodes; his daughter is injured standing 40 feet away. He sues Wal-Mart for product defect in Federal District Court and wants Arkansas (where Wal-Mart is headquartered) law to apply. If LA law applies, distributor is not liable unless it knew of defect. If AR law applies, an injured party has greater chance of recovery. District Ct. applied LA law, precluding recovery. Hughes appeals. HELD: Louisiana law applies. Judgment is affirmed. The court looked at factors for conflict of laws application . Louisiana has the most significant contacts to the litigation. Container was purchased in Louisiana by a resident of the state and the injured party is a Louisiana resident as well. The only “contact” with Arkansas is it is the principle place of Technology’s Impact: On-Line Availability of Legal Documents Availability
“Curbs Debated As Court Records Go “Curbs Public on Net” Public
• Article expresses concerns that court documents, once Article in “practical obscurity”, are now on the Web in a “treasure trove” of information “treasure • Social security, bank, credit card numbers, account Social balances, names and ages of children, medical and psychiatric records, tax returns, etc: All Accessible! psychiatric • Privacy advocates warn of use for customer databases, Privacy for embarrassment, by criminals, and other purposes. for • Others say, “If it’s sensitive, ask judge to seal it.” • Courts are grappling with the impact of technology on Courts obtainable legal information. obtainable ...
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This note was uploaded on 09/01/2010 for the course LAW 567 taught by Professor A.moorty during the Spring '10 term at Anna University Chennai - Regional Office, Coimbatore.
- Spring '10