Civil Procedure Fall 2014
Bird’s Eye View
Kafka, The Trial
· About a man who is mystified by the law, and waits for his admittance to it. He plays by the rules that are the same for everyone, but the door was only for him in the end.
· We always think of procedure as preemptive, but procedure is already the law; 99% of cases are settled or decided before they even go to trial.
Paula Petrella v. MGM (1962)
•Facts: π’s father signed exclusive rights to book and screenplay to MGM. π’s father died and renewal rights were given to his heirs. π sued MGM for copyright infringement and the federal court granted for summary judgment for MGM under the doctrine of laches.
· Laches: prevents a legal claim from being enforced if a long delay in filing the claim adversely affected the ∆’s ability to fight the claim.
•Issue: Does the doctrine of laches apply without restriction to civil copyright claims that are within the bounds of the federal three-year statute of limitations in such cases?
•Holding (Ginsburg): No, π did not seek relief for damages prior to three years before the filing of her suit, the doctrine of laches does not apply to this case.
The doctrine of laches has never been used to bar claims for wrongs that occurred within the acceptable timeframe.
Because laches originally served as a guide to adjudicating copyright disputes when there was no statutory limitation, there is no reason to use the doctrine to interpret the statute.
•Dissent (Breyer): Argued that the doctrine of laches must be applied to the three-year statute of limitations in order for the courts to protect the equity of the legal system. Allowing the three-year limitation to control every copyright case regardless of the circumstances could create loopholes such as permitting plaintiffs to sue for copyright violations on the same work every three years or to wait long enough that evidence that could be used to defend against the suit is lost.
Hamdi & Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 2004
· Plurality opinion: supported by the most justices, but not majority opinion
Federal Courts have jurisdiction over:
Diversity Jurisdiction. (Parties from Multiple Areas)
· Next Friend: Hamdi is the petitioner in this case, but the father is “next friend” because the real party of interest, the petitioner, is not available. The next friend must show that the real party has a genuine claim, is not available, and that he has enough of an interest in the outcome of the case to justify brining the case to court.
· Writ of Habeas Corpus: “You have the body”. In the case of a writ of HC, the plaintiff is often referred to as a petitioner. A writ of habeas corpus is court order to produce someone who is being illegally detained. In Hamdi, the father is asking the court to order the government to produce his son or legally justify his detention. The petition for the writ serves as a complaint, and here relies on the 5th and 14th Amendment.
· Preliminary Remedy: (remedy granted while the case is pending). Preliminary remedies ordinarily cannot be appealed until the after the final decision. Sometimes, when the case involves an issue that has not been decided before by the courts and the decision is very important (extraordinary situations), a party can appeal a preliminary remedy.
· Interlocutory Appeal: The government attempted to stop the case before a final decision was made on the merits of the case by the district court, by making an immediate appeal of the preliminary remedies (a preliminary appeal).
· Order of Production: The District Court issues an order of production for other information to conclusively prove Hamdi’s status – “In order for me to make the decision the court of appeals wants me to make, I need more information”.
o The court wanted in camera review: in the courtroom, not open to the public.
· Due Process: The courts holds that due process demands that a US citizen being held as an enemy combatant must be allowed to contest the factual basis of his detention before a neutral decision maker.
Federal Rulemaking – The Rulemaking Process
· Some Justices have expressed concern about the role of the Supreme Court in the enactment of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on these grounds:
o Because they affect substantive rights, the rules should be passed through the enactment process established by the U.S. Constitution, which does not include a role for the Supreme Court. [Black and Douglas] § Congress enacts them by passively not doing anything for 6 months
o Because it passes on the validity of the rules, the Supreme Court compromises its impartiality by getting involved in any way in their creation.
o In light of its growing caseload, the Supreme Court does not have time to review the rules before their enactment.
o The Supreme Court justices lack the expertise of the Judicial Conference and its committees to pass judgment on the adequacy of the rules. [White] § 2071 Rule-making power generally
(a) The Supreme Court and all other courts established by an Act of Congress may prescribe rules for the conduct of their business. Such rules must be prescribed in accordance with procedure described in §2072 and also must be consistent Acts of Congress.
(b) Any rule prescribed by a court, other that the Supreme Court, shall be proscribed only after giving appropriate public notice and opportunity for comment.
(e) If the court determines there is immediate need for rule, the court can proceed without public notice or opportunity for comment, but will have to provide such notice and opportunity promptly after.
(f) No rule can be proscribed by a district court other than under this section.
§ 2072 Rules of procedure and evidence – the power to prescribe
(a) The Supreme Court has the power to prescribe general rules of practice and procedure and rules of evidence for cases in the US district courts (including proceedings before magistrates) and courts of appeals.
(b) Such rules cannot abridge, enlarge or modify any substantive rights. All laws, which are in conflict with a rule, have no more force once the rule has taken effect.
(c) Such rules may define when a ruling of a district court if final for the purposes of appeal.
§ 2073 Rules of procedure and evidence – method of prescribing
The Judicial Conference’s duties include…
Approving rules received from the standing committee and passing those rules along to the Supreme Court.
Prescribing and publishing the procedures for the consideration of proposed rules.
Authorizing the appointment of committees to assist the Conference by recommending rules
The Standing Committees’ duties include…
Reviewing the recommendations of the advisory committees and passing these recommendations along to the Judicial Conference
Advisory Committee’s duties include…
Recommending rules to be proscribed.
Each committee consists of members of the bench and professional bar, as well as trial and appellate judges.
To make a rule recommendation, the committee making the recommendation must include the proposed rule, an explanatory note, and a written report explaining the body’s action including any minority or separate views.
§2074 Rules of procedure and evidence – submission to Congress
The Supreme Court hands over approved rules to Congress.
Unless Congress acts to reject the rule, the rule becomes a law with the passage of enough time.
Order on the 1993 Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Problem on the merits of change Rule 11, which says you have to sign documents that you present to court.
By signing them you are saying they are accurate documents, and if they are wrong, then it means you misled the court and are subject to sanctions.
Amended in 93 to allow people to take back documents
ted to them. Court is putting forth their personal views of right to aid, rather than putting forth what the constitution requires.
Wheeler v. Montgomery, 1970 (due process in welfare pre-termination hearings)
· Issue: whether the California procedure for pre-termination review in welfare cases satisfies the Due Process Clause
· Reasoning (Brennan): procedural due process requires an evidentiary pre-termination hearing, including right to testify, cross-examine witnesses, and secure counsel, before welfare payments may be discontinued or suspended. Cites Goldberg v. Kelly.
· Dissent (Black): same as in Goldberg.
· Dissent (Burger, joined by Black): should defer to legislature. Since they are changing procedure, should let them work out the procedure before getting involved. He believes there is no constitutional issue.
· Dissent (Stewart): Close question, but does not believe that the procedures now followed in NY and CA violate the Constitution.
Boddie v. Connecticut, 1971 (due process in divorce fees)
· Poor married couple on welfare wants to get divorced but can’t afford to do so in CT court system because of the fees involved.
· Issue: Does this fee violate the DP under the 14th Amendment?
· Holding: you can charge a fee, as long as there is a possibility for indigent people to file exception
o SC cites Griffin (a criminal defendant complains that he doesn’t have the ability to compete in court system because he doesn’t have the money. SC says that is violation of due process because he can’t go through process without money.)
o Marriage is solely regulated by the state, so you have to go through the court. The interests of the state do not outweigh the personal interests here.
o Extend criminal due process to civil cases à at least some of the guarantees in criminal should apply to civil case
· Concurrence (Douglas): we shouldn’t go too far with this decision; since we’re looking at poverty discrimination, we should have relied on Equal Protection rather than Due Process.
· Concurrence (Brennan): this is good, go further; these fees deny equal protection
· Dissent (Black): we don’t have control of getting rid of this fee because getting rid of a marriage is a state issue, not a federal issue; Griffin doesn’t apply because its criminal
o Neither DP nor EP justifies judges in trying to make the Constitution fit the times, or hold laws constitutional on the basis of fairness.
o Court should not legislate; justices are not elected representatives so they should defer to states, legislatures. DP guarantees life, liberty and property. Majority is considering welfare benefits property, but they are a gift.
A Guide to Disability Rights Laws
· ADA: Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, telecommunications
o Disability: person who has physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
· Rehabilitation Act: Prohibits disability discrimination in programs conducted by federal agencies