The Judiciary’s Role In American Government

Judicial Review was established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison(1803) where Chief Justice Marshall wrote:

“It is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is….”

Basic Judicial Requirements

Jurisdiction:

“Juris” (law) “diction” (to speak) is the power of a court to hear a dispute and to “speak the law” into a controversy and render a verdict that is legally binding on the parties to the dispute. 

Jurisdiction over Persons

Power of a court to compel the presence of the parties (including corporations) to a dispute to appear before the court and litigate.

Courts use long-arm statutes for non-resident parties based on “minimum contacts” with state.

Case 2.1: Cole v. Mileti (1998).

Jurisdiction over Property

Also called “in rem” jurisdiction.

Power to decide issues relating to property, whether the property is real, personal, tangible, or intangible.

A court generally has in rem jurisdiction over any property situated within its geographical borders.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction

This is a limitation on the types of cases a court can hear, usually determined by federal or state statutes.

  • For example, bankruptcy, family or criminal cases.
  • General (unlimited) jurisdiction.
  • Limited jurisdiction.

Original and Appellate Jurisdiction

A court of original jurisdiction is where the case started (trial).

Courts of appellate jurisdiction have the power to hear an appeal from another court.

Federal Court Jurisdiction

“Federal Question” cases in which the rights or obligations of a party are created or defined by some federal law.

“Diversity” cases where:

  • The parties are not from the same state, and,
  • The amount in controversy is greater than $75,000.

Exclusive vs. Concurrent Jurisdiction

Exclusive:

Only one court (state or federal) has the power (jurisdiction) to hear the case.

Concurrent:

More than one court can hear the case.

Venue

Venue is concerned with the most appropriate location for the trial.

Generally, proper venue is whether the injury occurred.

Standing

In order to bring a lawsuit, a party must have “standing” to sue.

Standing is sufficient “stake” in the controversy; party must have suffered a legal injury.

Case 2.3:  High Plains Wireless LP vs. FCC (2002)

Trial Courts

  • Courts of record-court reporters.
  • Opening and closing arguments.
  • Juries are selected.
  • Evidence, such as witness testimony, physical objects, documents, and pictures, is introduced.
  • Witnesses are examined and cross-examined.
  • Verdicts and Judgments are rendered.

Appellate Courts

Middle level of the court systems.

Review proceedings conducted in the trial court to determine whether the trial was according to the procedural and substantive rules of law.

Generally, appellate courts will consider questions of law, but not questions of fact.

Supreme Courts

Also known as courts of last resort.

The two most fundamental ways to have your case heard in a supreme court are:

Appeals of Right.

By Writ of Certiorari.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Trials are a means of dispute resolution that are very expensive and sometimes take many months to resolve.

There are “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) methods to resolve disputes that are inexpensive, relatively quick and leave more control with the parties involved.

ADR

ADR describes any procedure or device for resolving disputes other than the traditional judicial process.

Unless court-ordered, there is no record which is an important factor in commercial litigation due to trade secrets.

Most common:

Negotiation, mediation, arbitration.

Negotiation

Less than 10% of cases reach trial.

Negotiation is informal discussion of the parties, sometimes without attorneys, where differences are aired with the goal of coming to a “meeting of the minds” in resolving the case.

Successful negotiation involves thorough preparation, from a position of strength.

Assisted Negotiation

Mini-Trial: Attorneys for each side informally present their case before a mutually agreed-upon neutral 3rdparty (e.g., a retired judge) who renders a non-binding “verdict.”  This facilitates further discussion and settlement.

Expert evaluations.

Conciliation:

3rdparty assists in reconciling differences.

Mediation

Involves a neutral 3rdparty (mediator).

Mediator talks face-to-face with parties (who typically are in different adjoining rooms) to determine “common ground.”

Advantages: few rules, customize process, parties control results (win-win).

Disadvantages:

Mediator fees, no sanctions or deadlines.

Arbitration

Many labor contracts have binding arbitration clauses.

Settling of a dispute by a neutral 3rd party (arbitrator) who renders a legally-binding decision; usually an expert or well-respected government official. 

Recall the 1997 UPS strike when US. Labor Secretary Alexis Herman helped arbitrate the strike.

Arbitration Disadvantages

Results may be unpredictable because arbitrators do not have to follow precedent or rules of procedure or evidence.

Arbitrators do not have to issue written opinions.

Generally, no discovery available.

Arbitration Process

Case begins with a submission to an arbitrator. Next comes the hearing where parties present evidence and arguments. Finally, the arbitrator renders an award.

Courts are not involved in arbitration unless an arbitration clause in a contract needs enforcement.

Providers of ADR Services

Non-profit organizations:

American Arbitration Association.

Better Business Bureau.

Online Dispute Resolution

Also called ODR

  • Uses the Internet to resolve disputes.
  • Still in its infancy but is gaining momentum.
  • Download Book

International Dispute Resolution

Forum Selection and Choice-of-Law clauses in contracts govern the transaction.

Arbitration clauses are generally incorporated into international contracts.

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