Chapter 4 four the court system civ lit 2nd

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  • 1. Civil Litigation:Process and Procedures Chapter Four The Court System
  • 2. Introduction to the Court System  Federal courts  Given jurisdiction by the U.S. Constitution  Handle cases involving federal questions & diversity of citizenship  State courts  Involves most private suits & state lawsCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 2
  • 3. Sources of Law  Constitutions  Document that establishes the conception, character & organizations of a government  Statutes  Laws passed by the legislative body  Administrative rules & regs.  Laws promulgated by administrative agencies (executive branch)  Case Law  Judicial opinions from past casesCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 3
  • 4. United States Constitution  Divides governmental power into  Federal  Executive (President)  Legislative (Congress)  Judicial (Federal Courts, headed by the Supreme Court)  All the power not specifically designated to the federal government is reserved for the states  Certain basic rights are guaranteed to individualsCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 4
  • 5. Statutes  Laws enacted by the legislative branch  Designed to  Regulate the conduct of citizens  Regulate the operation of businesses or professions  Interpretation of statutes by court decisionsCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 5
  • 6. Administrative Law  Consists of rules, regulations & adjudications  Agencies (usually the administrative branch of the government) promulgate rules & regulations to carry out the statutes passed by the legislature.  Hearings concerning individual parties’ rights result in administrative decisions.Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 6
  • 7. Case Law  Written decisions from a court, usually on appeal.  Previous case opinions serve as precedent to help resolve current cases.  Case law can be challenged by a unique situation, or substantial change in society’s norms.Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 7
  • 8. Stare decisis  Principle that gives great deference to earlier decisions  Earlier precedent serves as guide to interpret current issues  Precedents are a signal for the future as to how cases should be decidedCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 8
  • 9. Cause of Action Civil actions  Torts (compensable harm, not contractual)  Contracts (breach of a contractual obligation)  The plaintiff must prove all the required elements by a preponderance of the evidence.Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 9
  • 10. Torts  The plaintiff must prove these elements to win a negligent tort case:  Duty of care  Breach of that duty  Causation  Injury resulting in damagesCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 10
  • 11. Breach of Contract  Governed by common law, statutory law, and local case law.  The plaintiff must prove these elements:  A contract existed  Offer, acceptance, a meeting of the minds, consideration, lawful purpose, competent parties  One of the parties failed to meet contractual obligations  The suing party suffered damagesCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 11
  • 12. Monetary Remedies  Compensatory damages  Calculated to replace actual losses  May be special damages (can be calculated with some specificity)  May be general damages (more speculative, such as pain & suffering)  Punitive damages punish the defendant and serve as a deterrent  Statutory damages are set by the legislatureCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 12
  • 13. Equitable Remedies  Monetary damages cannot “right the wrong” (e.g., unique, irreproducible property makes purchasing a replacement impossible)  Specific performance (the court orders someone to do something)  Injunction (the court orders someone to refrain from doing something)Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 13
  • 14. Court Authority  Courts cannot accept a law suit unless basic requirements of authority are met  Standing (the party’s stake or interest in the suit)  Case or controversy (not advisory: a real dispute)  JurisdictionCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 14
  • 15. Jurisdiction  Subject matter jurisdiction  Limited  Limited by amount of damages (maximum or minimum)  Limited by type of case (e.g., juvenile, bankruptcy)  General  All types of cases  May be divided into divisions, such as civil or criminalCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 15
  • 16. Jurisdiction Over the Person  In personam means the court has exerted control over an entity, giving it the authority to enforce the law against that individual or business  In rem means the court has control over property that is the subject of a controversy (geographic location)Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 16
  • 17. Personal jurisdiction and “minimal contact”  Fundamental fairness requires a person has had some “minimal contact” in a court’s geographical boundary in order to exert personal jurisdiction over someone  The internet is stretching the boundaries of personal jurisdictionCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 17
  • 18. Obtaining Personal Jurisdiction  Consent  Most businesses must consent to the court’s control in order to do business in a jurisdiction  The plaintiff consents by filing the complaint  Use of a state’s resources or facilities can result in consent via a long-arm statuteCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 18
  • 19. Personal Jurisdiction, cont.  Obtain jurisdiction by serving pleadings on a defendant found within the geographical boundaries of the jurisdiction  Businesses with minimum contacts within a state (conducting business with its citizens, for instance)Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 19
  • 20. Venue  Where a case will be heard  May be multiple proper venues, all of which could hear a caseCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 20
  • 21. Venue  Which of several courts of proper jurisdiction should hear the case?  Federal or state  Geographical convenience  Speed it takes to get to trial in a specific court  Damage award history & jury pool  Reputation of the judges, and the attorney’s relationship to the court  Local pre-trial publicityCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 21
  • 22. Removal  With concurrent jurisdiction (more than one appropriate court), a state trial can be removed to federal court  If the federal matter is resolved, there will be no residual jurisdiction over the state matter.Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 22
  • 23. Trial Courts  Have the ability to hear evidence & serve as finders of fact  If they are courts of record, their judgment is appealable  Can be limited (specific subject matter, such as a federal question) or general (all civil & criminal actions)Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 23
  • 24. Federal Court …or not?  Federal courts cannot hear all disputes  Some cases may be heard only in federal court  Some cases may be heard only in state court  Some cases could be brought in eitherCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 24
  • 25. Federal Jurisdiction  Federal question  Arises under the U.S. Constitution, federal law (statutes, administrative regulations & rules of court), or international treaties  Diversity jurisdiction  Private dispute between citizens of different states  The amount in controversy must exceed $75,000Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 25
  • 26. Intermediate Appellate Courts  Reconsiders lower court decisions  Reviews the trial record for procedures followed, decisions made on objections  Determines if the lower court judge made an error in procedure or in applying substantive law  Can affirm (uphold), reverse and/or remand the decision back to trial court for a proper remedyCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 26
  • 27. Federal Court SystemCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 27
  • 28. Highest Appellate Court  U.S. Supreme Court, and varies in state systems  The court of last resortCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 28
  • 29. Certiorari  Can review (grant certiorari) to a small number of intermediate appellate court decisions  Determine whether laws are constitutional  Ensure individual constitutional rights have been preservedCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 29