Chapter 2: The Courts and Jurisdiction Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Chapter 2: The Courts and Jurisdiction Deck (56)
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Trial Court

A court where the parties to a lawsuit file their pleadings and present evidence to a judge or jury


Lower courts

Another terms for a trial court



The power that a court has to hear a particular case; requires that a court has the power to hear the type of case (subject matter) and that a court has power to render a decision against a particular defendant (personal) or over property (in rem)


Original jurisdiction

The power of a court to conduct a trial in a case; confers a court the right to be the first court to hear the matter


Court of Appeals

A court of review; this court reviews decisions from a trial court



A written analysis of the facts and law related to a case, written by the attorneys handling the case, and filed in a trial or appellate court. Briefs are also filed in the Supreme Court


Legal Error

A mistake in the way the court interprets or applies the law. Examples of legal errors include a judge's misstating the law when instructing the jury or allowing attorneys to introduce evidence that is not relevant to the case or that has been improperly obtained


Appellate jurisidction

The power of a court to review the decision of a lower court or administrative agency. Appellate review is usually conducted by a 3-judge panel and cases are decided by a majority vote (two of the three)


higher court

Another term for a court with appellate jurisdiction



An appellate court's upholding of the lower court's decision



The act of an appellate court setting aside the decision of a lower court



The act of an appellate court sending a case back to the lower court after reversing a decision, often with specific instructions as to how the lower court must deal with the case


supreme court

A name given to the highest court in the federal court system and to many, but not all, of the highest court in state court systems


Intermediate courts versus courts of last resort

Unlike intermediate courts of appeals that must review cases in which the parties request a review, courts of last resort generally have discretionary right to review the cases. In other words, these courts hear only those appeals that they want to hear



A term used in connection with appellate proceedings indicating that the reviewing court wants the lower court to send the higher court its record, so that the proceedings can be reviewed. When parties ask the US Supreme Court to hear a case, they often file a petition for writ of certiorari, which, if granted, means that the Supreme Court will review the record in the case


U.S. District Courts

The U.S. and its territories are divided into 94 districts, each having a federal district court. Some larger districts are further subdivided into divisions. Each state has at least one federal district court in its boundaries and, depending on population, a state may have more. The number of judges assigned to each district varies according to need. District courts are trial courts. Thus, if a lawsuit were pursued in the federal court system, it would start in a district court. The complaint and answer are filed in that court, and any trial takes place there


Miscellaneous Federal Trial Courts

The federal court system includes various specialized trial courts, including bankruptcy courts, the U./s. Court of International Trade, and the U./s Claims Court. The bankruptcy courts are an "adjunct" to each district court. All bankruptcy proceedings originate there. The U.S. Court of International Trade deals with cases involving international trade and custom duties. The U.S. Claims Court handles suits against the federal government for money damages in numerous civil matters (except for tort claims that must be brought in district court_


U.S. Courts of Appeals

The U.S. is divided into 12 geographic appellate circuits, or regions. These courts hear appeals from district courts within their boundaries. In addition to the courts of appeals for each of the 12 geographic appellate districts, there is a 13th federal court of appeals with national jurisdiction. This court hears appeals in patent, copyright, and trademark cases from any district court and all appeals from the U.S. Claims Court and the U.S. Court of International Trade. Generally, when any of the courts of appeals reviews a lower court decision, that decision is reviewed by a 3-judge panel, and the majority decision prevails. However, similar to the district courts, the total number of justices in each appellate court varies according to need


U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. court system has one Supreme Court, consisting of nine justices. The Court is located in Washington, D.C., and holds its sessions from October through June. Primarily, the Supreme Court exercises appellate jurisdiction. In most cases, the exercise of that appellate jurisdiction is discretionary. With limited exceptions, the Supreme Court is not required to hear cases in which a party requests review. In deciding whether to grant a hearing in a case, the Court considers the importance of the decision not only to the aggrieved parties but also to society as a whole. The Court also considers whether the courts of appeals have decided cases in contradictory ways. The Supreme Court often hears cases to resolve disagreements between various appellate courts


To request a Supreme Court hearing

A party files wit the Court a document called a petition for a writ of certiorari. In this petition the party explains why the Supreme Court should consider the case. The justices then consider each petition for writ of certiorari and vote on whether to grant it. For a petition to be granted, four of the nine justices must agree. If the petition for the writ of certiorari is not granted, then the decision of the court of appeals stands


If a petition for a writ of certiorari is granted

It does not mean that the party has won the case. The party has only managed to get a full hearing (review) by the Supreme Court. If the petition is granted and the writ is issued, the case proceeds much like an appeal in the appellate courts. The justices consider the lower court transcripts. The attorneys submit legal briefs and present oral arguments to the Court. To prevail before the Supreme Court, a party must have the vote of 5 our of the 9 justices, or a simple majority. (In the event that fewer than 9 justices are hearing the case, it takes a majority to win. Should there be a tie vote, the decision of the court of appeals stands)


State Court Systems

Names differ from state to state. For example, general trial courts in California are called superior courts. In New York, trial courts are called supreme courts. In other states, trial courts are known as circuit courts, city courts, county courts, surrogate courts, chancery courts, and courts of common pleas. Many states have additional specialty trial courts such as probate court, juvenile court, and family court. Some states have different levels of trial courts. In addition, many state court systems have a small claims court (the people's court) in these courts, parties who are suing for small amounts of money go through a simplified litigation process. Attorneys are usually not involved, and all pleadings are extremely simple. These courts are intended to afford speedy legal relief in small cases where normal litigation costs would preclude other actions


subject matter jurisdiction

the authority that a court has to hear a particular type of case


personal jurisdiction

the power or authority of the court to make a ruling affecting the parties before the court


in rem jurisdiction

the authority of a court to hear a case based on the fact that property, which is the subject of a lawsuit, is located within the sate in which the court is situated


quasi in rem jurisdiction

authority of a court to hear a case based on the fact that the defendant owns property that is located within the state, even though that property is not the subject of the lawsuit



Where parties are not residents of the same state or where one party, especially a business, has a presence in several states, determining proper jurisdiction is more involve. The use of the Internet by businesses raises several jurisdiction questions. Two factors are analyzed to determine which court has jurisdiction to hear a case: (1) the type of case (the subject matter of the lawsuit) and (2) the residence of the defendant (or in some cases where the defendant has property). To have jurisdiction to hear a case, a court must have both subject matter jurisdiction , the authority to hear the type of case before the court, and personal jurisdiction, authority or power over the parties, especially the defendant. Sometimes the defendant's property becomes a substitute for personal jurisdiction. This is referred to as in rem jurisdiction or quasi in rem jurisdiction


diversity of citizenship

a basis for federal court subject matter jurisdiction under 28 USC Section 1332 existing when no plaintiff and no defendant are citizens of the same state and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, or when one party is a citizen of a foreign state


subject matter jurisdiction of the federal courts

In civil cases, the federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction in the following circumstances:
1. the case involves a constitutional issue;
2. the case involves a treaty;
3. the case involves a federal law, such as those that regulate bankruptcy, patent and copyright, discrimination, or maritime issues;
4. the U.S. government is a plaintiff or defendant in the lawsuit; or
5. the plaintiff and defendant are not citizens of the same state (diversity of citizenship)


diversity of citizenship

Complete diversity is not required for certain class action lawsuits. In these cases, if the amount in controversy exceeds $5,000,000, the federal courts have jurisdiction if diversity exists between any plaintiff and any defendant. Several special rules apply and the U.S. Code should always be checked (28 U.S.C. Section 1332). One question that sometimes arises in connection with the monetary limit required for diversity jurisdiction is whether several small claims can be aggregated to achieve the minimum requirement. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not simple and depends on the nature of the claims to be aggregated. In general, however, claims cannot be added together to meet the $75,000 requirement if the claims are separate and distinct