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The Courts


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The Courts

  1. 1. The Court System and Jurisdiction
  2. 2. U.S. Court System <ul><li>Both the federal and state court systems are triangular </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At the bottom there are many trial courts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There are fewer appeals courts and one supreme court </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At the federal level there are </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>646 District Court Judges </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>13 Circuit Courts of Appeal </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>One Supreme Court with nine justices </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Trial Courts <ul><ul><li>Trial courts determine the facts and apply existing law to those facts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Juries are charged with making factual determinations , except when the parties waive their right to a jury, in which case </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In general appellate courts will not hear appeals of jury verdicts unless there is evidence of jury tampering or some other procedural irregularity </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Appellate Courts <ul><ul><li>Appellate courts determine whether legal errors were made at the trial court level </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Most appeals are denied, as trial court decisions are affirmed </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Supreme courts can overrule decisions of appellate courts </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The U.S. Supreme Court is almost entirely an appellate court </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The U.S. Supreme agrees to hear only a fraction of the appeals made to it </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>New York vs New Jersey </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Appellate Courts <ul><ul><li>Main function of appellate courts is to review trial courts for possible errors of law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Possible errors of law include rulings the trial court on </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Motions made by either party </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Admission or non-admission of evidence </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Instructions to juries </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>U.S. Courts of Appeals often hear appeals for decisions of administrative agencies such as the FTC, the PTO, and NLRB </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decisions of trial courts are only reversed when the errors made are judged material . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A mistake is material if it could have effected the outcome of the case. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. U.S. Supreme Court <ul><ul><li>Mainly hears appeals from cases that either </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Have constitutional implications </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Resolve differences among the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Have significant social implications and are considered ripe--appropriate for resolution </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Appeals to the Supreme Court are based on writs of certiorari (4 of 9 must vote to hear case) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Issues majority, concurring and dissenting opinions </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Specialized Courts <ul><li>At both the federal and state levels there are specialized courts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At the federal level there are specialized courts of bankruptcy, tax court, military courts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At the state level there are specialized juvenile, probate, domestic relations courts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Specialized courts do not have jurisdiction to resolve disputes outside their subject matter. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Trial Courts <ul><ul><li>In the federal courts, trial courts are called district courts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In state courts, trial courts are often divided between </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>District courts for lesser civil cases and criminal misdemeanors, and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Superior courts which hear major civil cases and criminal cases involving felonies </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. State Courts <ul><li>Unless a case in state courts involves federal law there are usually no appeals from state to federal court </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Appeals from state supreme courts to federal court can take place when </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It is a capital criminal case—it often involves allegations of violations of constitutional law </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Claims are made by a party that state laws violate the Interstate Commerce Clause </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Claims are made that state laws violate fundamental constitutional rights involving, for example, race, abortion, and due process. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Jurisdiction <ul><li>Defendants in civil cases can file a motion to dismiss based on a claim that the court selected by the plaintiff for the lawsuit </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does not have jurisdiction over the defendant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Or the subject matter of the dispute </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>A court has jurisdiction if it has power to resolve the dispute. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Two factors in determining jurisdiction: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Subject matter and geography </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Jurisdiction: Nomenclature <ul><ul><li>Trial courts have original jurisdiction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Obviously, appellate courts have appellate jurisdiction </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In order to deny the defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, the trial court must have both : </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Jurisdiction over the subject matter of the dispute and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Jurisdiction personally over the defendant </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Obviously, a bankruptcy court does not subject matter jurisdiction to try a criminal case </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Many trial courts have general jurisdiction to hear any case </li></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Jurisdiction of State Courts: Over the Person <ul><li>Assume the plaintiff files suit against the defendant in the plaintiff’s state: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clearly the state trial court has jurisdiction over the def., if the def. is a resident of the plaintiff’s state </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A state court can exercise jurisdiction if the person </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Did business within the state, such as sign or perform a contract, or </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Committed a tort within the state, such as get involved in a traffic accident </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>States typically pass “Long Arm” statutes that extend the jurisdiction of state courts as far as is constitutionally permissible. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Jurisdiction over the Person <ul><ul><li>Suppose the def. is a corporation or a business? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Jurisdiction depends on whether the out-of-state business satisfies the minimum contacts test: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The minimum contacts test is satisfied if the business owns property, rents office space, directs employees towards, or directs advertising toward the state </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Without more, mail order companies are not subject to the jurisdiction of out-of-state courts </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Conceptual test is whether the out-of-state company availed itself of the advantages of the state government? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If yes, then jurisdiction is fair and justified </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Jurisdiction over the Person <ul><li>For web sites, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>mere accessibility does not give out-of-state courts jurisdiction, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>but if the web site interacts with customers through email or telephone it does… </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Obviously, even a small amount of interaction between web sites and in-state residents is going to subject the web site to out-of-state courts </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web sites can easily avoid exercise of jurisdiction by out-of-state courts simply by have a choice of law clause in their Terms of Service agreement, which the user “agrees to” by browsing the web site. </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Jurisdiction: State Courts <ul><ul><li>In rem jurisdiction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If an out-of-state resident owns property within a state, that state’s courts have in rem jurisdiction over the property </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Note further that the plaintiff always has the option of going to the defendant’s home state and suing him or her in that state, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If state courts in the pl.’s home state do not have jurisdiction </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Jurisdiction: Federal Courts <ul><ul><li>A plaintiff can file a lawsuit in federal court if </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Federal question jurisdiction takes place </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The claim (or defense) involves federal law </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E.g., the plaintiff the defendant violated the Clean Water Act, which is a federal statute. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The parties are located in separate states and </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The amount in dispute involves more than $75,000 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If the case is tried in fed. court, procedural law is governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Proc. </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Exclusive and Concurrent Jurisdiction <ul><li>In many cases, plaintiff’s have a choice as to which court system (state or fed.) to file the claim because </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jurisdiction over the case is concurrent between federal and state courts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E.g., civil rights, securities, any claim based on diversity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In other cases, jurisdiction of fed. or state courts is exclusive: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Federal courts have exclusive juris. over patent cases, criminal cases and bankruptcy, to name just a few </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>State courts have exclusive juris. over domestic relations, juvenile court, in-state tort claims where diversity does not apply </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Exclusive and Concurrent Jurisdiction <ul><ul><li>Plaintiffs can file a suit in state court based on a violation of a federal statute, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>unless the statute contains language that provides for exclusive juris. of fed. courts. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Defendant’s can remove a case to fed. court, if </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The plaintiff had a choice between fed. and state court and chooses to file in state court </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Def. may choose to remove a case to fed. court if the def. is concerned that a state court may favor the pl. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Conflicts of Law <ul><li>In some cases there is a genuine issue as to which state’s laws apply </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Suppose a contract is signed in one state, but performed in another state? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In some cases the rules for determining choice of law are simple, i.e., where did the tort occur? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In other cases, the choice as to which state’s laws apply is complicated. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In contractual situations confusion can be avoided by having choice of law clauses in the contract, which is quite common </li></ul></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Venue <ul><ul><li>Venue is the physical location of where the trial will take place </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In criminal cases, motions to change venue are sometimes granted based on pre-trial publicity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A motion to change venue based on pre-trial publicity could be granted in a civil case also </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>At the state level a to change venue is a motion to change the location of the trial within the same state, whereas the same motion at the federal level is a motion to change the state where the trial takes place. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes venue is changed if going to court is very inconvenient for the defendant or witnesses </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Motion to change based on forum non conveniens </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If the motion is granted, the trial will take place in another state or at the fed. level. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Standing to Sue: Justiciability <ul><li>In order to get into court, the plaintiff must show </li></ul><ul><ul><li>He or she has a real, current interest at stake </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Examples, loss of freedom (possible incarceration), loss of property, loss of aesthetics if the person actually uses the park, loss of govt. benefits, loss of job etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>In order to be justiciable the dispute must not be: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>hypothetical (a dispute in the future), </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>moot (dispute already resolved), or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>political (decisions that are within the discretion of Congress or the President). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Courts sometimes allow exceptions </li></ul>
  22. 22. Judges and Judicial Officials <ul><li>Federal judges are appointed for life </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cannot be removed unless there is a showing of malfeasance—bribery, treason, other crimes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Congress cannot reduce the pay of a sitting judge </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>State judges </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some are elected and some appointed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Judicial immunity applies for most of what judges do, but judges could be censored or removed under state codes of ethics for judges. </li></ul>