Civil Procedure Outline
Professor Andrea M. Seielstad
“Civil Procedure: A Contemporary Approach” A. Benjamin Spencer
I. Overview – Civil Procedure refers to the body of rules, statutes, and doctrines that govern where and how private suits are initiated, litigated, and resolved by litigants, their attorneys, and courts.
A. Introduction to U.S. Judicial Systems – Hierarchy of courts divided geographically and by jurisdiction.
1. Federal District Courts – 94 federal judicial districts. Each state has at least one. No district crosses state lines. Can be multiple judges within district in diff. courthouses spread throughout the district in various “divisions”. Judges try cases singularly.
2. U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals – 12 geographical regional circuits + 1 subject matter circuit (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit – patents). Initially cases heard with 3 judge panels. En banc – a full hearing by all judges in the circuit.
3. The Supreme Court of the United States – 9 Justices. Discretionary review. Grant certiorari. Can review the decisions of the Supreme Courts of all the states. SCOTUS has no jurisdiction to review state court determinations on matters of state law.
4. The States – Each has its own similar hierarchical system.
5. The Federal Rulemaking Process – Constitutional provisions, federal statutes, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) all make up civil procedure. FRCP adopted in 1938. Established in the Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C. § § 2071-2077. SCOTUS and several committee’s can change the rules.
B. An Outline of a Civil Action
Pleading (Joinder) à Notice à Pretrial Conference (Settlement; ADR; planning)à Discovery à Pretrial Motions à Trialà Post-Trial Motions à Appeal
1. Selecting a Proper Court – Where? State v. Federal.
a. Personal Jurisdiction – Authority of a court to exercise power over an individual or entity.
b. Subject Matter Jurisdiction – Competency & authorization to hear a case. Federal courts are limited in this respect.
c. Venue – Venue rules resolve questions about where cases can be brought
2. Applicable Law – Choice-of-law questions. State or federal law? Which State’s law should apply?
3. Pleading & Joinder – A Complaint initiates a suit. Complaint must be served Then Def. must Answer. Joinder is how a lawsuit may be shaped with respect to the number of claims and parties
4. Discovery – Compelled information exchange. Prevents concealment of info. Not limitless.
5. Trials & Disposition without Trial – Negotiated settlements. Summary Judgment. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Default Judgment. Role of the jury. Phases of a jury trial. Verdicts.
6. Judgments & Appeals –
a. Securing & Enforcing Judgments – Methods for securing assets before trial. Executing a judgment and collecting.
b. Appellate Review – Rules limit when decisions can be challenged.
c. Preclusion Doctrine – The extent to which previous determinations of claims or issues preclude the relitigation of those matters or closely related matters in subsequent lawsuits. Claim Preclusion (res judicata). Issue Preclusion (collateral estoppels).
C. Recurring Themes – Federalism. Histo
rvice. Service made under MA law (registrar + mail to PA). Implied Consent is held as an acceptable means of exerting personal Jurisdiction over nonresident motorists. Here’s it’s based on a state statute. Corporations also gave implied consent & their doing business within a state established presence.
B. Modern Personal Jurisdiction Doctrine
International Shoe Co. v. State of Washington(unemployment compensation in WA) “[D]ue process requires only that in order to subject a defendant to a judgment in personam, if he be not present within the territory of the forum, he have certain minimum contacts with it such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.’” Jurisdiction is constitutionally permissible in circumstances where it can be said that the defendant has minimum contacts with the forum state such that the exercise of jurisdiction is fair and reasonable.
Specific Jurisdiction – a type of Pesonal Juris. Involves forum contacts that are related to the claims asserted in the action.
General Jurisdiction – a type of Pesonal Juris. Refers to suits involving only unrelated forum state contacts.
Continuous & Systematic contacts vs. Related & Isolated contacts
Specific Jurisdiction: Applying the Minimum Contacts Analysis