Litigation Basics – Rob Bartow
8/21/2007 Class #1
ASSIGNMENT: Write about me! Due tomorrow
Pennsylvania Court System
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas – trial court
PA Superior Court – appeals court
PA Commonwealth Court – appeals court that deals with mostly government issues
Municipal Court and Traffic Court – below the trial court so appeals go up to the trial court
US Court System
US District Court – trial court
US Court of Appeals (PA is in the 3rd circuit)
US Supreme Court
Bankruptcy Court and Magistrate Court is below the District Court
There are also specialized courts that have their own court of appeals. The US Claims Court and the Court of International Trade are trial courts that appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
6th amendment is directed at the federal government
14th amendment is directed at state governments
US Constitution has a supremacy clause
The State of Connecticut v. Stewart
This opinion was issued by a Ct. appellate court reviewing a criminal trial.
It would have been a civil case if Dutton was trying to recuperate the value of his barn.
Codified = put into a statute
Civil v. Criminal Cases
Information = a document that is used to begin a criminal prosecution
FACTS (things that happened)
Dutton’s barn was burned down by Stewart
No one was in the barn (irrelevant)
House not burned down (irrelevant)
Barn 18 rods from house
Barn and house were separated by a highway
ISSUE (What was the court’s job?)
Deciding whether Stewart was properly convicted of arson.
Is the barn parcel to the mansion house?
The court needed to abide by the statute of arson in Ct. in 1825
The barn is NOT parcel to the house.
Remember to consider purpose and policy!
8/22/2007 Class #2
1 judges opinion, not necessarily the whole panel’s opinion
sometimes there isn’t a majority opinion
Arguments for using dicta statements as precedent:
if something was written in the opinion it was probably important to the decision
Stare decisis = let the decision stand
Using stare decisis is mandatory if a decision comes from a higher court
State v. Toole
Procedure in this case is very important.
It is charged that the dwelling of Mr. Slater was burned even though Mrs. Slater owns the structure.
The court says it’s not about the owner, it’s about the occupant. (protection of human life)
Rex = the queen (king) of England
8/23/2007 Class #3