Civil Procedure Class Notes
Today, getting to Gordon, which will spill over until tomorrow.
Yeazell sketches out what he thinks procedure is in the intro to the casebook.
Civil Procedure: What is it?
We’re talking civil, not criminal.
We’re talking adversarial, a bipolar dispute between two individuals, and usually involving money. In our case, they’re using the court system. There are other ways to solve disputes, though (c.f. ADR).
Civil Procedure focuses on rules.
We’ll use the Federal Rules as our model. But states have their own set of rules too. So if you end up practicing in a state, you might have to relearn some specifics.
The rules are enacted by either legislatures or courts. Fairman says that courts have more experience.
Civil Procedure deals with procedure, not substance.
So some people find it abstract at first. It’s something the average person has little contact with before they become a lawyer.
Civil Procedure is the study of the principles surrounding the resolution of civil disputes by the courts and the various tools available to a lawyer who must bring or defend a lawsuit.
FRCP Rule 1
The rules are meant to ensure just, speedy, and inexpensive lawsuits. “Fair, fast, and cheap.” We’ll later look back and ask, “How did they do?”
The Five Themes
1. Judicial Power – Who has it? What courts have power to adjudicate disputes (i.e. jurisdiction)?
2. Dispute Parameters – How do we take big cases and winnow them down into what’s actually going to get tried, if they get tried? The tools of setting these parameters are all procedural.
3. Obtaining finality – The more that happens to a lawsuit in different courts, the harder it is to undo.
4. Costs – Every lawsuit has its costs, monetary or non-monetary.
5. Balance between equity and efficiency – cheap & quick and fair are at odds. We can have more of one or more of the other…we need to make tradeoffs.
The Five Pedagogical Objectives
1. Identify and apply “Black Letter” procedural rules – some rules is rules (c.f. FRCP Rule 8). Know them.
2. Determine the doctrinal and policy implications of the rules.
3. Understand the theoretical implications of the rules. We want to find truth, if there is a truth. We let them sue now, and find truth later.
4. Develop a critical perspective: how do we limit frivolous lawsuits?
5. Skill: be able to read cases critically for procedural issues. In this course, we’re concerned with procedure and not substance.
This is only half of the story. There’s another course, Civ Pro II, that most people tend to take their second year. If you’re going to do litigation, you should take Civ Pro II. It’s much more rule-based.
The Style of the Case: all the text at the top of the case. What does it mean? It’s the first plaintiff “v.” the first defendant. The person who sued goes first.
Then you’ve got some numbers
that tell you it’s in the 376th volume of the Federal
Supplement. That tells us it’s a
W.D. Pa. 1974: The Western
Pay attention to the date: The judge says certain things that would be offensive today…I was thinking the judge said what he did about marriage because the plaintiff was a Mormon…perhaps it was because she was a woman.
A variety of court systems: we have Federal Courts, including U.S. District Courts, which are trial courts. They appeal to the U.S. Courts of Appeals (we’re in the Sixth Circuit). They get appealed up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the state courts, you have
your trial courts…like the funky courts we have here in
This is all a modern view. It wasn’t always this neat.
Facts: The defendants are all from
Where these people are from
is important. The doctors and hospital
Where is Gordon from? That’s the issue. Gordon says
Why does that matter? It matters in terms of diversity jurisdiction. Federal courts can’t hear every case. They do allow cases between people from different states.
An issue for later: issue
preclusion. If the issue has already
been decided in court, you can’t decide it again. So if in Federal Court, they find that Gordon
is a resident of
More on Gordon tomorrow!