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Unformatted text preview: CHAPTER 3 CHAPTER 3 DISPUTE RESOLUTION THREE FUNDAMENTAL THREE FUNDAMENTAL AREAS OF LAW 1) Alternative Dispute Resolution; 2) Structure of our court systems; 3) Civil lawsuits Dispute Prevention Litigation v. Alternative Dispute Resolution – You have a chance to go broke twice in your life: once when you lose a lawsuit, the other time when you win – Takes careful planning – Litigation refers to lawsuits, the process of filing claims in court and ultimately going to trial. – Alternative Dispute Resolution is any other formal or informal process used to settle disputes without resorting to trial. ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION Negotiation Mediation – Can happen either personally or through lawyers – Neutral person, called the mediator, attempts to coax the two disputing parties toward a voluntary settlement – The mediator does not issue a decision – Offers the strongest “win­win” potential ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION Arbitration – Parties agree to bring in a neutral third party, and this arbitrator has the power to impose an award – Usually faster and cheaper than litigation – Parties give up some rights that litigants would have (ex: discovery) – Mandatory Arbitration Parties agree in advance to arbitrate any dispute that may arise State Court System State Court System Usually 7 Justices; may refuse to hear a case; final authority Three judges; never a jury State Supreme Court (Highest Appeals Court) Lower Appeals Courts Click on any box below for a definition of the jurisdiction of that trial court. General Civil Division General Criminal Division Small Claims Division Municipa l Division Juvenile Division Land Division Domestic Relations Division Trial Courts of General Jurisdiction One judge; may have jury Probate Division Trial Courts of Limited (or Specific) Jurisdiction One judge; may have jury COURT SYSTEMS COURT SYSTEMS State Courts – Trial Courts One judge and often (but not always) a jury Trial courts determine the facts of a particular dispute and apply the law to those facts Jurisdiction is a court’s power to hear a case – Trial courts of limited jurisdiction – Trial courts of general jurisdiction – Appellate Courts Generally review the trial record for errors of law COURT SYSTEMS COURT SYSTEMS State Courts – Appellate Courts – – – Courts of Appeal State Supreme Court Ex: Fifth District (Dallas) Court of Appeals Ex. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (Federal) Intermediate level of appeals court Federal Courts – Highest court in the state Ex: Texas Supreme Court Ex: Texas Court of Criminal Appeals – Federal Question Cases – Diversity Cases A claim based on the United States Constitution, a federal statute, or a federal treaty is called a federal question case Plaintiff and defendant are citizens of different states and The amount in dispute exceeds $75,000 The Federal Court System * Click here to see a map of the 12 Circuits of the U.S. Courts of Appeals. United States Supreme Court (Highest Appeals Court) Nine Justices; appointed for life; may refuse to hear a case; final authority Hears appeals from specialized trial courts. Three judges hear each case, brought up from the District Courts. U.S. Courts of Appeals (12 Circuits) Click on any box below for a definition of the jurisdiction of that trial court. U.S. District Courts U.S. Bankruptcy Courts U.S. Tax Courts U.S. Court of Internationa l Trade Various Federal Agencies U.S. Claims Court U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Lower Appeal s Courts U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Primar y Trial Court Trial Courts of Limited (Specific) Jurisdiction Trial Courts of Limited (Specific) Jurisdiction Circuits in the Federal Court Circuits in the Federal Court System 8 9 10 5 5 Puerto Rico is part of Circuit 1 1 2 7 6 11 Ž 3 Virgin Islands are part of Circuit 3 4 5 D.C. Circuit Washington, D.C. Federal Circuit Washington, D.C. Northern Marianna Islands are part of Circuit 9 (along with Alaska and Hawaii.) Go back to Federal Court System slide. Go back to slide show. Source: Administrative Office of the United States Courts, January 1983 COURT SYSTEMS COURT SYSTEMS Federal Courts – Trial Courts – Appellate Courts United States District Court United States Courts of Appeals United States Supreme Court – Intermediate appeals courts – 12 Circuit courts of appeal Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi are grouped into the Fifth Circuit – Highest court in the country – Nine justices on the Supreme Court – Writ of certiorari Front row: Justices Kennedy and Stevens, Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia Front row: Justices and Souter. Back row: Justices Breyer, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Alito LITIGATION LITIGATION Pleadings – the documents that begin a lawsuit – Complaint A short, plain statement of the facts she is alleging and the legal claims she is making Filed with the court Purpose is to inform the defendant of the claims and notify him of his need to come to court to protect his interests LITIGATION LITIGATION – Service – Answer A sheriff or constable will deliver the complaint and a summons (a document ordering the defendant to answer the complaint within 20 days) to the defendant The defendant’s brief reply to each of the allegations in the complaint The answer tells the court and the plaintiff exactly what issues are in dispute LITIGATION LITIGATION – Counter­Claim – Class Actions A second lawsuit (one by the defendant against the plaintiff) One plaintiff can represent the interests of several potential plaintiffs Party can file a motion to dismiss the case based solely on the pleadings – Judgment on the Pleadings LITIGATION LITIGATION – Discovery The critical, pre­trial opportunity for both parties to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent’s case Interrogatories Depositions Production of documents and things Physical and mental examination Requests for Admission Stinton v. Robin’s Wood Stinton v. Robin’s Wood Facts and Procedural Posture: Issue: – Slip and fall lawsuit. Defendant repeatedly fails to produce employee who allegedly caused the incident for deposition. Plaintiff moved to strike Defendant’s answer, and Court granted motion, subjecting Defendants to default judgment. Defendants appealed. – Did the trial court abuse its discretion by striking the Defendant’s answer? – Trial court’s decision upheld. “Although an action should be determined on the merits whenever possible…a court, in its discretion, may invoke the drastic remedy of striking an answer if it determines that the defendant’s failure to comply with discovery demands is willful and contumacious.” Result: LITIGATION LITIGATION – Summary Judgment A ruling by the court that no trial is necessary because there are no essential facts in dispute Jones v. Clinton (1998) – Originated from landmark Supreme Court ruling establishing that a sitting President of the United States has no immunity from civil law litigation against him, for acts done before taking office and unrelated to the office – Issue: Was Clinton entitled to summary judgment or was Jones entitled to trial? – Judge Wright’s Decision – Jones did not show a tangible job detriment which is a required element for an adverse employment action LITIGATION LITIGATION Trial – Adversary System – Right to Jury Trial Our system of justice assumes that the best way to bring out the truth is for the two contesting sides to present the strongest case possible to a neutral factfinder. As a general rule, both plaintiff and defendant have a right to demand a jury trial when the lawsuit is one for money damages. If the plaintiff is seeking an equitable remedy, there is not a jury. LITIGATION LITIGATION – Voir Dire The process of selecting a jury is called Voir Dire which means “to speak the truth.” Challenges for cause Peremptory challenges Jury Selection: Beginning a Trial Beginning a Trial Process called voir dire uncover biases. If both sides agree, they may waive their right to a jury. 1. Questioning -- Each potential juror is questioned, to 2. Challenges for Cause -- Each side can claim any juror shows significant bias. 3. Peremptory Challenges -- Each lawyer can dismiss a limited number of jurors without stating a reason. 4. Jury Chosen -- 12 jurors and 2 alternates LITIGATION LITIGATION – Pereda v. Parajon – p. 62 – Opening Statements Issue: was Parajon entitled to a new trial based on Berg’s failure to disclose her own personal injury lawsuit? Result – reversed and remanded for new trial Each attorney makes an opening statement to the jury, summarizing the proof he or she expects to offer LITIGATION LITIGATION – Burden of Proof – Plaintiff’s Case Civil case – to prove case by a preponderance of the evidence Criminal case – the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty Plaintiff puts their case on first Direct examination – lawyer asks questions of her own witness Cross examination – lawyer asks questions of the opposing witness LITIGATION LITIGATION – Rules of Evidence – Motion for Directed Verdict The law of evidence determines what questions a lawyer may ask and how the questions are to be phrased, what answers a witness may give, and what documents may be introduced. Permissible only if the evidence so clearly favors the defendant that reasonable minds could not disagree on it. LITIGATION LITIGATION – Defendant’s Case – Closing Argument The defendant now puts on his or her case Both lawyers sum up their case to the jury – Jury Instructions Judge instructs jury as to its duty Jury told that they are to evaluate the case based only on the evidence they heard at trial Judge explains the law and the burden of proof LITIGATION LITIGATION – Verdict – Motions After the Verdict The jury deliberates informally Criminal – need unanimity Civil – may not need to be unanimous Judgment non obstante veredicto (JNOV), meaning a judgment notwithstanding the jury’s verdict Motion for new trial Hernandez v. Montville Hernandez v. Montville Township Board of Education ­ p. 67 Facts and Procedural Posture: Plaintiff was custodian who was allegedly fired for reporting safety violations in school buildings. Case tried to a jury which awarded Plaintiff nearly $200k in compensatory damages. Trial court did not allow the jury to rule on punitive damages and following the verdict granted a “take nothing” JNOV to Defendant, and Plaintiff appealed. Issue: Did the trial court err in rejecting punitive damages and granting the JNOV? Result: Punitive damages should have been submitted to the jury, and the jury verdict should be reinstated. LITIGATION LITIGATION Appeals – – – Parties file briefs with the appeals court Oral arguments may be held Hernandez v. Montville Township Board of Education (2002) – Appeals Court Options Affirm Modify Reverse and remand Reverse Harmless error ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/04/2011 for the course GOVT 1132 taught by Professor Asdad during the Spring '11 term at University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson.

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