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Civpro Outline

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I.                   Jurisdiction in General

a.       Jurisdiction is the power or authority of a court to hear and determine cases or controversies, and to carry its judgment into effect.  It includes the power and authority to declare the law, to hear and determine issues of law and of fact, the power to inquire into the facts, to apply the law, and to pronounce the judgment (21 C.J.S., Courts, §2, 1990).

b.      Doctrine of Ancillary Jurisdiction – This doctrine provides that a court may determine all questions relative to the matters brought before it, regulate the manner in which a trial shall be conducted, determine the hours at which the witnesses and lawyers may be heard, direct the disposition of money deposited in court in the course of the proceedings, appoint a receiver, and grant an injunction, attachment or garnishment (20 Am. Jur. 2d, Courts, §100, 1965). In short, it is the inherent power of the court to determine issues that are incidental to the exercise of its primary jurisdiction, and yet necessary to the orderly and efficient exercise of it (21 C.J.S., Courts, §21, 1990).

II.                Personal Jurisdiction

a.       Definition – Personal jurisdiction may also be called territorial jurisdiction.  This is the power of the court to bring before it persons to be affected by the judgment so as to give him an opportunity to be heard, and to render a judgment binding upon his person (21 C.J.S., Courts, §11, 1990).

b.      Distinguished from Venue – While jurisdiction is the power to decide a case on the merits, venue is the locality, the place where the suit should be heard.  Matters of venue do not per se trigger question of jurisdictional power and the word venue related only to the place or the territory within which either party may require the case to be tried (21 C.J.S., Courts, §9[b], 1990).

c.       Distinguished from Forum Non Conveniens – Forum Non Conveniens is a Latin phrase which literally means “inconvenient forum.”  It is a principle originating from the United States and mostly used in international law, which holds that generally, there are sets of rules as to where a suit must be brought by the parties.  However, if the parties show adequate proof that great inconvenience will be suffered, the judge may decline to hear the case, and transfer the same to another case, based on the principle of Forum Non Conveniens.

d.      Case Law

                                                              i.      Pennoyer v. Neff [95 U.S. 714 (1877)] – this case held that there is no personal jurisdiction over the defendant unless the defendant is physically present in the state.  However, the case also held that in order for the court to acquire jurisdiction over a defendant who is not physically present in the state, the properties of the defendant must be attached.  This actually converts the suit into one that is quasi-in-rem.  Although generally, constructive notice is not enough, an action quasi-in-rem assumes that the property is in the possession of the owner and that the owner knows what happens to his property.  In this case, constructive notice is sufficient.

                                                            ii.      International Shoe v. Washington [326 U.S. 310 (1945)] – this case held that the courts of a particular state cannot acquire jurisdiction over the person of the defendant unless the person has minimum contacts in that state such that maintenance of the suit does not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”  This case actually involves a corporation that was incorporated in the State of Delaware and has its principal place of business in the State of Missouri.  Strictly speaking, the courts of the State of Washington cannot acquire jurisdiction over International Shoe.  However, since International Shoe has agents in Washington, then such would be the minimum contact required to acquire jurisdiction over the said non-resident corporation.

III.             Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

a.       Definition – Subject-Matter Jurisdiction is the power to deal with the general subject involved in the action.  It means not only the jurisdiction over the particular case that is within the attention of the court but it also means jurisdiction of the class of cases to which a particular case belongs (21 C.J.S., Courts, §10, 1990).

b.      Distinguished from Diversity Jurisdiction – Diversity Jurisdiction refers to the power of District Courts to hear and decide cases between citizens from different states.  However, the amount in controversy must comply with the requirement of law which is $75,000.

c.       Distinguished from Federal Question Jurisdiction – Federal Question Jurisdiction is actually a form of subject-matter jurisdiction, wherein a federal court will take cognizance of a civil suit wherein the plaintiff has alleged a violation of the United States Constitution, laws or treaties.

IV.             Federal Common Law – This is the term used for common law developed by federal courts.  Generally, the Federal Supreme Court now has jurisdiction to review the cases decided by state courts, and definitely has no power to determine whether or not state laws were followed by the state courts.  In the case of Swift v. Tyson [41 U.S. 1 (1842)], the United States Supreme Court held that federal courts hearing cases under their diversity jurisdiction must apply statutory laws of the state but not common laws.  However, this Swift doctrine was overturned by the Erie doctrine in 1938.

V.                Erie Doctrine – Prior to the Erie Doctrine, the case law on Diversity Jurisdiction was that federal courts created federal common law in deciding the cases, instead of applying the laws from a particular state.  However, in 1938, the case of Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins overturned precedents and held that the law to be applied in a diversity case is the law of the state in which the case was filed.  This doctrine actually prevents forum shopping, which is filing the exact same case in different courts in order to attain the result desired.

VI.             Pleadings

a.       Definition –  Pleadings are statements in logical and legal form of the facts which constitute the plaintiff’s cause or causes of action or the defendant’s ground of defense.  They are allegations of the parties  of what is affirmed on one side and denied on the other disclosing to the court the real matter in dispute (21 C.J.S., Pleading, §1, 1951).  Pleadings were made orally in open court during ancient common law practice.  However, present day practices require that pleadings must be in written form to be filed (21 C.J.S., Pleading, §3, 1951).

b.      Necessity and Purpose – In general, pleadings are necessary to confer jurisdiction on a court, that the subject matter be presented for its consideration in a mode sanctioned by law and this is done by the filing of a complaint or other pleading.  Unless a complaint or other pleading is filed, the judgment of a court of record is void and subject to collateral attack even though it may be a court which has jurisdiction over the subject matter referred to in a judgment (61 Am. Jur. 2d, Pleadings, §2, 1981).  Furthermore, pleadings are designed to develop and present the precise points in dispute between the parties and to inform the court of the facts in issue.  The object is to notify the opposite party of the facts, which the pleader intends to prove, so that he may not be misled in the preparation of his case (61A Am. Jur., Pleading, §3, 1981).

c.       Construction of Pleadings – Rule 8 (f) of the Federal Rules on Civil Procedure provides that “Pleadings shall be construed as to do substantial justice.”  To adhere to this provision of law, every reasonable intendment must be made in favor of the pleader because under this rule, the purpose is to try all questions on the merits and a pleading will be rejected only if it suffers from fatal defects (61A Am. Jur., Pleading, §58, 1981).

d.      Kinds of pleadings

                                                              i.      Complaint

                                                            ii.      Answer

                                                          iii.      Reply

                                                          iv.      Counterclaim

1.      compulsory counterclaim – Rule 13(a) defines compulsory counterclaim as “any claim which at the time of serving the pleading the pleader has against any opposing party, if it arises out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the opposing party’s claim and does not require for its adjudication the presence of third parties of whom the court cannot acquire jurisdiction.”

2.      permissive counterclaim – Rule 13(b) defines permissive counterclaim as “any claim against an opposing party not arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the opposing party’s claim.”

v. Cross-claim – Rule 13(g) defines a cross-claim as “any claim by one party against a co-party arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter either of the original action or of a counterclaim therein or relating to any property that is the subject matter of the original action.”

e. Amended Pleadings – Rule 15(a) provides that “A party may amend the party’s pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served or, if the pleading is one to which no responsive pleading is permitted and the action has not been placed upon the trial calendar, the party may so amend it at any time within 20 days after it is served. Otherwise a party may amend the party’s pleading only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party; and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires.”

f. Amendments to Conform to Evidence – Rule 15(b) provides that “When issues not raised by the pleadings are tried by express or implied consent of the parties, they shall be treated in all respects as if they had been raised in the pleadings. Such amendment of the pleadings as may be necessary to cause them to conform to the evidence and to raise these issues may be made upon motion of any party at any time, even after judgment; but failure so to amend does not affect the result of the trial of these issues.”

g. Supplemental Pleadings – Rule 15(d) holds that “Upon motion of a party the court may, upon reasonable notice and upon such terms as are just, permit the party to serve a supplemental pleading setting forth transactions or occurrences or events which have happened since the date of the pleading sought to be supplemented.”

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