Civ Pro Outline
-MS in 5th Fed Circuit (MS, LA, TX)
-13 circuits total-11 circuits + DC + Fed Circuit
Three Levels of Fed Cts:
1. District cts- the district cts serve as the trial ct for most cases
a. Organization- every state has at least one fed district ct. Many have two or more districts. There are also fed district cts for DC, Puerto Rico, and the fed territories. No Fed district includes land in more than one state.
b. DC also has a separate local ct system. Although this ct is technically fed, it acts in many respects like a state ct.
2. Cts of Appeal- The cts of appeal review decisions of the district cts. The Appellate cts are divided into 13 districts.
a. First through 11th and Δ.C. Districts- review cases from district cts located in their geographic boundaries
b. Fed Circuit: the 13th circuit is called the fed circuit. Unlike the others, its jurisdiction is defined in terms of subject matter, not geography.
3. Supreme Ct-The U.S. Supreme Ct is the highest fed ct. The Supreme Ct reviews decision of the fed Cts of Appeal and, in certain rare cases, hears appeals from District cts.
a. State Ct Decisions- Unlike any other fed ct, the Supreme Ct may also review decisions of the state high cts. However, it only reviews decisions when they involve questions of fed or constitutional law.
b. Trial Ct- In certain rare cases, such as suits b/t states, the Supreme Ct can sit as a trial ct.
I. AN OVERVIEW OF PROCEDURE
a. Where Can the Suit Be Brought?
· Location: either state or fed ct → if given the choice, must decide which is more advantageous
· The choice b/t state and fed cts weighs convenience and tactic on these elements:
o All fed judges are appointed for life
o Some district fed cts have smaller caseloads than their state ct counterparts and are therefore likely to bring case to trial faster
o Tactical factors may influence the lawyer
o Other distinctive factors range from greater freedom to question prospective jurors in state cts to the desire to obtain or avoid a particular judge
i. SMJ → determines whether a ct can hear a particular type of dispute.
1. Two different terms used to describe →
a. General Jurisdiction: cts can hear any kind of claim b/t any persons unless there is legal authority saying otherwise. (all states have GJ ct)
b. Limited Jurisdiction: cts can hear only those cases that are specifically authorized by statute.
i. Unlike state cts, all fed cts are cts of limited jurisdiction.
ii. This jurisdiction is set by Art. III, § 2 of the Constitution.
o Deals w/ SMJ of fed cts; sets the outer bounds of the fed cts’ jurisdiction
o designed to protect people from possible prejudice of state cts
iii. Congress decides the precise SMJ of the fed cts.
o Limitation → Congress cannot grant more SMJ than is permitted by the Constitution.
o Congress has enacted statutes authorizing SMJ.
§ § 1331- fed question jurisdiction
§ § 1332- diversity jurisdiction
c. Concurrent jurisdiction: jurisdiction overlaps b/t two cts (state and fed)
2. SMJ of the fed cts is based on two considerations:
a. Certain claims may be brought in the fed cts b/c of the nature of the claim—“arising under” the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the U.S.
b. Other claims may be brought in fed cts b/c of the citizenship of the parties—Citizenship in fed diversity cases is determined at the time of filing by state in which domiciled. Two criteria:
iii. State Supreme Ct
b. Three levels of fed cts:
i. District (part of state, sometimes whole state)
ii. Ct of Appeals (regions covering several states)
iii. U.S. Supreme Ct
3. § 1391(a) → (1) Judicial district where Δ resides
(2) Judicial district where events occur
(3) Judicial district w/ PJ over Δ
iv. Service of Process
1. Must begin action and notify the Δ by drafting a complaint.
2. Rule 3 → a copy of the complaint must be filed w/ the ct.
3. Π’s lawyer must decide how to notify the Δ. Rule 4 sets forth two basic forms of notice:
a. The inexpensive and informal method, waiver of service, involves mailing the Δ the complaint; if the Δ mails back a signed copy, the suit can proceed.
b. The expensive and formal method, used if the Δ refuses to cooperate, requires the lawyer to draft a summons and take it to the clerk of the ct who will sign and seal it. The summons and complaint must then be “served.”