Chapter Issues Overview of the American court systemOverview of the American court system How an injured party can seek relief in the courtsHow an injured party can seek relief in the courts Jurisdiction: Which court has the power and the authority to decide the case?Jurisdiction: Which court has the power and the authority to decide the case?
Organization of the Court Systems Both state and federal court systems have –Lower courts: Courts of Original Jurisdiction Where disputes are initially brought and tried Generally known as trial courts Look at issues of fact; apply the law –Appellate Courts: Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction Where lower court decisions are reviewed Look at issues of law
The Federal Court System The Federal Court System Federal District CourtsFederal District Courts –Courts of original jurisdiction –Use juries or judge as trier of fact –Trial courts deal in issues of fact U.S. Court of AppealsU.S. Court of Appeals –12 courts –Usual rule: There is the right to appeal to this court –3 judge panels deal in issues of law Specialized Federal CourtsSpecialized 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 US Supreme Court The Federal Court System The US Supreme Court Highest court in the countryHighest court in the country Appellate review courtAppellate review court Cases usually heard by 9 justicesCases usually heard by 9 justices Term begins First Monday in October in Washington, D.C.Term begins First Monday in October in Washington, D.C. Reviews cases fromReviews cases from –U.S. District Courts –U.S. Courts of Appeals –Highest Courts of the States Review is through Writ of CertiorariReview is through Writ of Certiorari –If writ not granted, lower court decision is final
The Typical State Court System State courts of original jurisdiction (trial courts)State courts of original jurisdiction (trial courts) –Where case is first brought; deals in issues of fact –Usually called District Court (but in NY, is called the Supreme Court) State court of appeals (in about half the states)State court of appeals (in about half the states) –Deals with appeals and issues of law –Usually called Court of Appeals State Supreme CourtState Supreme Court –Appellate review dealing with issues of law –Usually called Supreme Court (but in N.Y., is called Court of Appeals)
Rules of Civil Procedure ( In United States Code, Title 28) Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: Govern procedural aspects of litigation –Pleadings –Discovery –Trial procedures –Relevant motions States are free to develop their own procedural rules –Most adopt the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or rules very similar to them
Jurisdiction Jurisdiction: Right of a court to hear & decide the caseJurisdiction: Right of a court to hear & decide the case A number of courts may have jurisdiction over a given caseA number of courts may have jurisdiction over a given case Need jurisdiction over the subject matterNeed jurisdiction over the subject matter Need jurisdiction over either persons or propertyNeed jurisdiction over either persons or property If jurisdiction is lacking, judgment is null & voidIf jurisdiction is lacking, judgment is null & void
Subject Matter Jurisdiction State Courts Special courts resolves a particular subject matters:Special courts resolves a particular subject matters: –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 trial courtIf there is not a particular subject matter, case first goes to general trial court Courts of original jurisdiction - where case is first broughtCourts of original jurisdiction - where case is first brought Courts of appellate jurisdiction - where lower court decisions are reviewedCourts of appellate jurisdiction - where lower court decisions are reviewed If there is no jury, judge decides the factsIf there is no jury, judge decides the facts General right to appeal to at least one higher courtGeneral right to appeal to at least one higher court
Subject Matter Jurisdiction Federal Courts Federal court jurisdiction is derived from the US Constitution Federal courts may hear cases involving a federal question –Cases in which the U.S. is a party to the suit –Cases involving citizens of different states Diversity of citizenship jurisdictionDiversity of citizenship jurisdiction Amount in Controversy is for more than $75,000Amount in Controversy is for more than $75,000 No $ amount for cases involving federal lawNo $ amount for cases involving federal law
Personal Jurisdiction In Personam Jurisdiction Over the person, usually throughOver the person, usually through –Summons through service of process or substituted service –Residency –Doing business in the state –Submission to the jurisdiction –See The Long Arm of the Law Out of state defendantsOut of state defendants –Jurisdiction more difficult –Serve them while in the state but may not trick them for service of process –Long-arm statutes See Exhibit 2.4See Exhibit 2.4 Aimed usually at nonresident businessesAimed usually at nonresident businesses
Territorial Jurisdiction Minimum Contacts Territorial Jurisdiction Minimum Contacts Sales office transacting business within the stateSales office transacting business within the state Landmark case--International Shoe Company v. Washington ( Supreme Court, 1945)Landmark case--International Shoe Company v. Washington ( Supreme Court, 1945) Legal contact -- legal nexusLegal contact -- legal nexus Examples of minimum contacts within a stateExamples of minimum contacts within a state –Sales representative(s) –Selling product –Advertising –Placing product in specific markets See Hollinger vs. SifersSee Hollinger vs. Sifers See Can Your Firm Be Reached?See Can Your Firm Be Reached?
Hollinger vs. Sifers Sifers is MD interviewed on TV about weight-reduction surgery. Hollinger saw T.V. program in her Missouri home. She goes to his office in KS. Surgery performed, but complications occur. Hollinger claims Sifers performed more dangerous procedure than promised. She sues Sifers in Missouri state court for deceptive merchandising, fraud, negligence. Service of process obtained in KS under MO long-arm statute, saying Sifers is conducting business in MO by television promotion. Sifers moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Says no minimum contacts in Missouri. Trial court dismissed suit for lack of jurisdiction. Hollinger appeals. HELD: Affirmed. No jurisdiction over Sifers under Missouri long-arm statute. When a defendant provides a service, rather than a product through stream of commerce, long-arm statute requirements more stringent. Sifers licensed in KS; office in KS; treats patients in KS. TV interview seen in MO, but this is only a motivation for later discussions. Interview for surgery by MD in KS and procedure in KS. Legal issues occurred in the state of Kansas; not Missouri. No showing that wrongful actions of MD were within state of MO.
Issue Spotter: Can Your Firm Be Reached? You work for Florida real estate development firm, Golden Shores. Many clients are people coming to Florida from New York to retire. To increase marketing, s sent to potential clients, offering 5% discount to buyers who respond by and buy property. New York requires real estate agents who offer property for sale to be registered in New York state. A colleague says this law doesnt apply to you because Golden Shores is located in Florida – the only communication with New York is through . Colleague says N.Y. authorities cannot come after Golden Shores for supposed violations. IS THE COLLEAGUE CORRECT?
Jurisdiction Based on Power Over Property In rem jurisdictionIn rem jurisdiction –The dispute between the parties is over property –Where property is located creates jurisdiction –Whether the defendant- property owner is within the jurisdiction does not matter –Tangible property creates in rem jurisdiction - i.e. real estate, personal property –Intangible property creates in rem - bank accounts, stocks –If property is removed to another state, no in rem jurisdiction Quasi in rem jurisdictionQuasi in rem jurisdiction –Defendants 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 –Property can be either real estate or personal –Property can be either tangible or intangible
Exclusive Jurisdiction (Over certain cases. In other disputes jurisdiction may be in either in federal or state court systems.) Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over some matters Examples: –Federal crimes –Bankruptcy –Patents –Copyrights –Federal questions Congress can specify by statute exclusive jurisdiction in federal courts State courts have exclusive jurisdiction over some matters Examples: –Divorce –Adoption –Matters controlled by state government Supremacy of federal lawstate jurisdiction cannot infringe on federal jurisdiction
Concurrent Jurisdiction Federal and state courts have exclusive jurisdiction over some matters; however,Federal and state courts have exclusive jurisdiction over some matters; however, Sometimes both state & federal courts have concurrent jurisdictionSometimes both state & federal courts have concurrent jurisdiction Plaintiff may bring suit in either court systemPlaintiff may bring suit in either court system If plaintiff chooses state court, defendant has right to remove to federal court (right of removal in diversity of citizenship cases)If plaintiff chooses state court, defendant has right to remove to federal court (right of removal in diversity of citizenship cases)
Applying Appropriate Law in Federal 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. TompkinsSee Erie v. Tompkins
Which Law Applies? Erie RR Co. v. Tompkins, (1938) Which Law Applies? Protruding object from train injures TompkinsProtruding object from train injures Tompkins Tompkins - PA citizenTompkins - PA citizen Erie - incorporated in NYErie - incorporated in NY Accident - in PAAccident - in PA If federal common law applies: Erie could be liableIf federal common law applies: Erie could be liable If PA common law: Tompkins trespassed & Erie is not liableIf PA common law: Tompkins trespassed & Erie is not liable Held: Concept of federal common law in diversity of citizenship cases is ended. Courts will apply a states lawHeld: Concept of federal common law in diversity of citizenship cases is ended. Courts will apply a states law PA law applies as it has most interests in the matter. Tompkins is a trespasser. Erie is not liable.PA law applies as it has most interests in the matter. Tompkins is a trespasser. Erie is not liable.
Applying Appropriate Law in State Court Incidents of the case take place in more than one stateIncidents of the case take place in more than one state Conflict of laws rules applyConflict of laws rules apply Rules vary according to nature of dispute, i.e.Rules vary according to nature of dispute, i.e. –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, govt. policies General rule: Laws apply for state that has the most significant interestGeneral rule: Laws apply for state that has the most significant interest See Hughes v. Wal-Mart StoresSee Hughes v. Wal-Mart Stores
Hughes v. Wal-Mart Stores Hughes buys Rubbermaid gas container at Wal-Mart in Louisiana. He pours fuel on stumps to burn; the fuel in the container explodes; his daughter standing nearby is injured. 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. Federal District Court in Arkansas 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 headquarters of Wal-Mart.
Venue Venue: Appropriate geographical location of the court that has jurisdictionVenue: Appropriate geographical location of the court that has jurisdiction In controversial or well-publicized cases, defendants will ask for change of venueIn controversial or well-publicized cases, defendants will ask for change of venue Doctrine of forum non conveniens: Either party may request a change of venue to a more convenient court that could hear the case. Court consider such issues asDoctrine of forum non conveniens: Either party may request a change of venue to a more convenient court that could hear the case. Court consider such issues as –Where actions took place –Where witnesses are located –Unfair burdens to parties
Judicial Officials Federal JudgesFederal Judges –President nominates –Confirmed by US Senate majority vote –Removed from office only if Congress impeaches them –About 1200 federal judges –Selection process wants to guarantee that judges are nonpartisan State Judicial OfficialsState Judicial Officials –Chosen by variety of methods –Elected, appointed or mix of both processes –Most serve a fixed term, which ranges from 1-14 years + more in some states Justices must apply law evenly/consistentlyJustices must apply law evenly/consistently
State Judges and the Doctrine of Judicial Immunity 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