February 20, 2013
SCOTUS Opinion in Gunn v. Minton
Today the Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in Gunn v. Minton, covered earlier here and here. The case revisits the recurring problem of when a federal law ingredient in a state law cause of action is sufficient for federal question jurisdiction (cases "arising under" federal law). It's a pretty quick turnaround--oral argument was on January 16.
Chief Justice Roberts authors the opinion, which endorses and applies the test developed eight years ago in Grable & Sons Metal Products, Inc. v. Darue Engineering & Mfg., 545 U. S. 308 (2005). Here’s one colorful passage on Grable [Slip Op. 6], which the Chief distills into a four-part test:
[E]ven where a claim finds its origins in state rather than federal law—as Minton’s legal malpractice claim indisputably does—we have identified a “special and small category” of cases in which arising under jurisdiction still lies. Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc. v. McVeigh, 547 U. S. 677, 699 (2006). In outlining the contours of this slim category, we do not paint on a blank canvas. Unfortunately, the canvas looks like one that Jackson Pollock got to first. See 13D C. Wright, A. Miller, E. Cooper, & R. Freer, Federal Practice and Procedure §3562, pp. 175–176 (3d ed. 2008) (reviewing general confusion on question).
In an effort to bring some order to this unruly doctrine several Terms ago, we condensed our prior cases into the following inquiry: Does the “state-law claim necessarily raise a stated federal issue, actually disputed and substantial, which a federal forum may entertain without disturbing any congressionally approved balance of federal and state judicial responsibilities”? Grable, 545 U. S., at 314. That is, federal jurisdiction over a state law claim will lie if a federal issue is: (1) necessarily raised, (2) actually disputed, (3) substantial, and (4) capable of resolution in federal court without disrupting the federal-state balance approved by Congress. Where all four of these requirements are met, we held, jurisdiction is proper because there is a “serious federal interest in claiming the advantages thought to be inherent in a federal forum,” which can be vindicated without disrupting Congress’s intended division of labor between state and federal courts. Id., at 313–314.
Applying Grable, the Court ultimately concludes that federal jurisdiction did not extend to Minton’s state law malpractice action, even though issues of federal patent law were “necessary” and “actually disputed” for purposes of requirements 1 and 2. As to the third requirement, Chief Justice Roberts writes [Slip Op. 8]:
[T]he federal issue in this case is not substantial in the relevant sense…. As our past cases show, … it is not enough that the federal issue be significant to the particular parties in the immediate suit; that will always be true when the state claim “necessarily raise[s]” a disputed federal issue, as Grable separately requires. The substantiality inquiry under Grable looks instead to the importance of the issue to the federal system as a whole.
The full discussion of the third requirement [Slip Op. 8-12] is worth a read, with some interesting discussion of the possible effect (or lack thereof) of state court malpractice actions on federal patent law and issue preclusion. As to the fourth requirement, the Chief Justice writes:
It follows from the foregoing that Grable’s fourth requirement is also not met. That requirement is concerned with the appropriate “balance of federal and state judicial responsibilities.” Ibid. We have already explained the absence of a substantial federal issue within the meaning of Grable. The States, on the other hand, have “a special responsibility for maintaining standards among members of the licensed professions.” Ohralik v. Ohio State Bar Assn., 436 U. S. 447, 460 (1978). Their “interest . . . in regulating lawyers is especially great since lawyers are essential to the primary governmental function of administering justice, and have historically been officers of the courts.” Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar, 421 U. S. 773, 792 (1975) (internal quotation marks omitted).
SCOTUS Decision on Article III & Mootness: Chafin v. Chafin
Yesterday the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Chafin v. Chafin (No. 11-1347), which addresses Article III mootness in the context of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion, and Justice Ginsburg authored a concurring opinion that was joined by Justices Scalia and Breyer.
February 19, 2013
Article contends co-authored pieces have more impact than solo-author pieces
This is obviously not Civil Procedure-centered, but I thought it was interesting for those of us who periodically participate in faculty hiring or promotion decisions in which the subject of co-authored pieces comes up.
Christopher Anthony Cotropia and Lee Petherbridge have posted on SSRN their paper, "The Dominance of Teams in the Production of Legal Knowledge."
Using a database that contains over 19,000 law review articles published in top 100 law reviews between 1990 and 2010, we demonstrate that team authors dominate solo authors in the production of legal knowledge. Team research is on average more frequently cited than individual research, and teams are more likely than individuals to produce exceptionally high impact research. These results suggest that a legal research culture that encourages cooperativity and collaboration could foster an intellectual connectedness helpful to improving the quality of knowledge production by legal academics.
February 18, 2013
Symeonides' 26th Annual Choice-of-Law Survey
Symeon Symeonides (Willamette) has posted on SSRN his Twenty-Sixth Annual Survey of American Choice-of-Law Cases, which will be published in the American Journal of Comparative Law. Here’s the abstract:
This is the Twenty-Sixth Annual Survey of American Choice-of-Law Cases. It is intended as a service to fellow teachers and students of conflicts law, in the United States and abroad.
Of the 4,300 cases decided in 2012 by state and federal courts, this Survey reviews 1,225 appellate cases, focusing on those cases that may contribute something new to the development or understanding of conflicts law, particularly choice of law. Highlights include:
▸ Numerous cases exemplifying the valiant efforts of state courts, and some lower federal courts, to protect consumers, employees, and other presumptively weak parties from the Supreme Court’s ever-expanding interpretation of the Federal Arbitration Act;
▸ A few cases enforcing choice-of-law clauses unfavorable to their drafters, and many more cases involving deadly combinations of choice-of-law and choice-of-forum clauses;
▸ Several interesting products liability cases, and other tort conflicts, including maritime torts and workers’ compensation claims by professional football players;
▸ The first appellate case interpreting the recent amendments of the anti-terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA);
▸ The first cases holding unconstitutional the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA);
▸ A Massachusetts case holding that an undissolved Vermont same-sex union was an impediment to a subsequent same-sex marriage in Massachusetts;
▸ An Arizona case holding that a Canadian same-sex marriage was against Arizona’s public policy, but—unlike other cases—also holding that the trial court had jurisdiction to annul the marriage and divide the parties’ property;
▸ The first case in decades upholding a foreign marriage by proxy;
▸ A case upholding, on First Amendment grounds, an injunction against Oklahoma’s “Anti-Shari’a” Amendment; and
▸ A case refusing to recognize a Japanese divorce, custody, and child support judgment rendered in a bilateral proceeding because the husband did not receive notice of a subsequent guardianship proceeding.
February 17, 2013
Symposium on Judicial Review of Arbitral Awards and Mediated Settlement Agreements (Penn State, Feb. 22)
Announcement below. Additional details here.
It is now commonplace for parties to use private procedures, such as arbitration and mediation, to resolve legal disputes. When one of the parties refuses to comply with the results of these procedures, however, our public courts may be forced to decide whether to provide assistance with enforcement. Indeed, there is now substantial satellite litigation arising out of arbitral awards and mediated settlement agreements. Under these conditions, the grounds for, and standards of, judicial review are critical.
On February 22, 2013, the Penn State Yearbook on Arbitration and Mediation will hold a symposium focusing on this relationship between the courts and private procedures. The symposium is entitled: “The Role of the Courts: Judicial Review of Arbitral Awards and Mediated Settlement Agreements.”
The symposium will feature the following outstanding procedural law and dispute resolution experts:
- Arbitral awards and judicial review—Professors Jeff Stempel (UNLV), Maureen Weston (Pepperdine) and Allen Blair (Hamline)
- Mediated settlement agreements and judicial review—Professors Jennifer Reynolds (Oregon), Jim Coben (Hamline) and Jacqueline Nolan-Haley (Fordham)
- Hybrids and judicial review—Professors Ellen Deason (Ohio State) and Andrea Schneider (Marquette), with commentary by Professors Jim Coben (Hamline) and Nancy Welsh (Penn State)
Professor Tom Carbonneau (Penn State) will deliver the closing remarks.
The symposium also will be webcast.