Thursday, August 22, 2013

Trammell on Jurisdictional Sequencing

Alan Trammell (Brooklyn Law School) has posted Jurisdictional Sequencing to SSRN.

This Article offers a critical re-assessment of subject matter jurisdiction, arguably the most fundamental constraint on federal courts. The project examines the nature and purposes of subject matter jurisdiction through the lens of jurisdictional sequencing, a practice that allows a federal court to decide certain issues — and even dismiss cases — before it has verified subject matter jurisdiction.

Despite many scholars’ antipathy toward jurisdictional sequencing, it is a legitimate practice that reveals a nuanced understanding of jurisdiction’s unique structural role in protecting federalism and separation of powers. Specifically, elected institutions have principal responsibility for crafting conduct rules that regulate people’s primary activities. Federal courts may interpret and apply conduct rules — and thus in a meaningful sense “make law” — only when they have verified their subject matter jurisdiction. By contrast, federal adjudication does not implicate the structural concerns at the heart of subject matter jurisdiction when courts dismiss cases based on other rules (what I term allocative rules). Re-imagining the precise role of subject matter jurisdiction reveals how federal courts can decide cases more efficiently and also respect essential constraints on the allocation of powers.


August 22, 2013 in Federal Courts, Recent Scholarship, Subject Matter Jurisdiction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Proposed Amendments to FRCP Are Reminiscent of New Texas Civil Procedure Rules

JD Supra Law News has a recent post on the new Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, effective March 1, 2013.  One change is the tracking of cases depending on the size of the relief requested and creating an "Expedited Action Rule" for claims less than $100,000.  "Expedited Actions" are subject to a limit of 15 interrogatories (down from 25) "and only 15 requests for production and 15 requests for admission (both of which were not limited under the old rules)," as well as other time limitations.

Sounds a lot like some of the proposed amendments to the FRCP (reported on here), except the proposed amendments to the FRCP are not limited to claims under $100,000.  


August 21, 2013 in Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, State Courts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Green on the Twin Aims of Erie

Michael Steven Green (William & Mary) has posted The Twin Aims of Erie to SSRN.

We all remember the twin aims of the Erie rule from first-year civil procedure. A federal court sitting in diversity must use forum state law if it is necessary to avoid "forum shopping" and the "inequitable administration of the laws." This Article offers a reading of the twin aims and a systematic analysis of their proper role in federal and state court. I argue that the twin aims apply in diversity cases not because they protect state interests, but because they serve the federal purposes standing behind the diversity statute. So understood, they are about separation of powers, not federalism. Through the twin aims, state law is incorporated into federal procedural common law in order to serve federal interests.

This reading does not merely have important consequences for diversity cases. It also has an impact on the role of the twin aims outside diversity. If the twin aims have their source in the purposes standing behind the congressional grant of jurisdiction, rather than respect for state interests, the fact that a federal court entertains a state law action is neither a necessary nor a sufficient reason for the twin aims to apply. The twin aims might apply to federal courts when entertaining federal causes of action. Conversely, they might not apply to a federal court when entertaining state law actions under jurisdictional statutes other than diversity.

I therefore examine four jurisdictional scenarios in order to assess the role of the twin aims in each: a federal court entertaining a federal cause of action, a state court entertaining a federal cause of action (sometimes called reverse-Erie), and a federal court entertaining a state law action under supplemental jurisdiction and under bankruptcy. In the course of my argument, I suggest a resolution to the current circuit split about whether a federal court sitting in bankruptcy should use forum state choice-of-law rules. I also argue that the Supreme Court has wrongly assumed that the twin aims apply in a reverse-Erie context. As a result, it has improperly limited state courts’ powers when entertaining federal civil rights actions — most recently in Haywood v. Drown, 556 U.S. 729 (2009).

This Article offers an original justification of the twin aims in diversity cases, and the first comprehensive explanation of their role in a variety of other jurisdictional contexts.



August 20, 2013 in Federal Courts, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weston on Private Judging

Maureen Weston (Pepperdine) has posted Retired to Greener Pastures: The Public Costs of Private Judging to SSRN.

The trend to privatize justice and the loss of judges from the public court system to the higher pay opportunities and flexibility in the private ADR industry raises important concerns about the quality of justice, due process, and wellbeing of the public justice system. This article explores the impact of this development — the benefits and costs — on the access to quality and meaningful justice. Part II examines the process for judicial selection and appointment, the role of the judge in a public justice system, and the compensation packages typically offered to public judges, while also reporting attrition and retirement from the bench. Part III considers the reasons motivating public judges to leave the bench for work in the private ADR sector and attendant effects on the public courts. While recognizing the benefits of private dispute resolution, Part IV counsels for limitations on the marketing of one’s status and service as a public judge while pursuing work as a paid private neutral, and proposes adoption of a canon of ethics for former judges serving as private arbitrators and mediators. The article concludes with a call for increased public investment toward improvements in the public court system in order to renew the calling to judicial service and to preserve a meaningful foundation of access to public justice.


August 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Williams and George on Empirical Study of Multidistrict Litigation

Margaret S. Williams and Tracey E. George have published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies their article, "Who Will Manage Complex Litigation? The Decision to Transfer and Consolidate Multidistrict Litigation."


The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation may transfer factually related actions filed in different federal districts to a single judge for consolidated pretrial litigation. This transferee judge has significant discretion over the management of the litigation, including ruling on dispositive pretrial motions. Nearly all cases are resolved without returning to the original district court. Thus, as a practical matter, the MDL Panel controls where these disputes will be litigated. And, the MDL Panel has substantial discretion in making that decision. In its first 44 years of existence, the Panel has transferred and consolidated nearly 400,000 lawsuits, including high-profile securities and derivative lawsuits, large-scale consumer actions, and mass torts involving products liability claims, common disasters, and air crashes. The Panel's transfer ruling has never been overturned. The current study provides the first systematic and comprehensive empirical investigation of the Panel's decision to transfer and consolidate pending federal civil lawsuits, examining the rationale for transfer and for the selection of a specific district court and judge to handle the consolidated litigation. We find that the Panel grants most motions to transfer and consolidate, but exercises meaningful discretion in choosing where and by whom the cases will be adjudicated. The MDL Panel is much more likely to assign cases to a district court where a current panelist sits and that is supported by at least one defendant and to a district judge who currently serves on the Panel. Thus, the composition of the Panel has a meaningful effect on where and how large-scale litigation will be resolved.


August 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)