Civil Procedure Class Notes 8/25/03


Ready to spend some more time with Pennoyer?  I can see the eagerness!


Pennoyer is helping to sort out categories of jurisdiction in the 19th century world.  At that point, you just had in personam and in rem.  Today, we recognize the situation in Pennoyer as “Type II” quasi in rem jurisdiction.


We’re mixing how Justice Field would describe the situation with today’s analysis.  For Field, the world was kind of black and white.


Field said that for in rem jurisdiction, you need to attach the property first, before the suit is started.  Or if you can personally serve the defendant within the state, you can get in personam jurisdiction.


One exception: the idea of consent.  There are situations where an individual can consent in advance to be brought under the jurisdiction of a court.  That’s sort of a third variety that’s implicit in Field’s contents.


Here come some hypotheticals!  Page 86, note 7.


We’re in Minnesota and North Dakota.


A lives in Minnesota.  B is in North Dakota.


A is going to sue B over a piece of land in Minnesota.


Let’s say we serve B in North Dakota.  B then files a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.  What’s the result under Pennoyer?  B wins because B wasn’t served in Minnesota.  Notice isn’t what’s critical here.  Even if you get real notice, a state has no power outside its boundaries.


How about the same thing, except instead of filing the motion to dismiss, B just does nothing?  A will get a default judgment in Minnesota.  A wants to collect on his victory.  He goes to North Dakota.  He starts a second suit to enforce the judgment.  What will B do?  B will say the Minnesota court never had jurisdiction.  This is precisely collateral attack; this is Pennoyer.


What if A serves B while B is on business in Minnesota?  The motion by B to dismiss will be denied.  B would be under the jurisdiction of the Minnesota court.


How about the same thing, where B is personally served in Minnesota, but instead of filing the motion to dismiss, B just takes the default judgment?  Now A files a lawsuit in North Dakota to collect the judgment against B.  A will prevail; the judgment will be enforced.  You better be right about your jurisdictional argument.  The idea is that the Full Faith and Credit clause will apply (Article IV, §1).  States have to recognize and enforce valid judgments reached in other states.


This time, A attaches B’s land first and obtains a judgment against B.  B challenges the sale of the land on jurisdictional grounds.  But B would lose, because once the land is attached, Minnesota has jurisdiction.


Next up, A serves process by publication and doesn’t attach B’s land.  B doesn’t respond and A gets a default judgment.  A then sues B in North Dakota to enforce the judgment.  B would win because the land wasn’t attached and B was not personally served.


How about a marriage suit?  Say you serve the spouse personally in North Dakota.  B files to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction because B wasn’t served personally in Minnesota.  This motion is denied.  That’s because marriage is an exception to the general rule.  Why?  Spouses leave, and you want them to be able to sue them for divorce and go on with their lives.


Marriage vitiates all procedure.”


What about a suit for alimony and child support?  We personally serve B in North Dakota, then B files a motion to dismiss in Minnesota.  Are marriage and money the same?  The motion to dismiss will be granted.  Minnesota has no jurisdiction to get child support and alimony.  This is different today; we’ll see in Burnham.


Conceptually, think of in rem as land.  If you stop thinking about in rem as land, you’ll get in trouble.


Don’t forget, we’re talking about the historical rules in the 19th century.


What about the fishing trip on the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin?  Say you personally serve B on the fishing trip.  B files a motion saying he wasn’t in Minnesota, he was in Wisconsin.  Now A tries to enforce the judgment in North Dakota.  B argues that the court in Minnesota did not have jurisdiction, because B was not in Minnesota.  The Minnesota court has fully and fairly litigated the issue.  This is what we call preclusion, and in particular, issue preclusion.  Once you’ve had your day in court on an issue, you’re bound by the findings of the court.  When B went and argued his motion to dismiss, he was consenting to the jurisdiction of the Minnesota court for that issue.


Were there “special appearances” in the time of Pennoyer?  Yes, and that’s what we assume B does.


If B wanted some other forum to decide the issue of personal jurisdiction, he should have argued jurisdiction in North Dakota.  Or, B could have appealed the jurisdictional issue in Minnesota.


A court has the responsibility to raise subject matter jurisdiction at any point, even on appeal.  In general, though, litigants have to bring issues to courts’ jurisdiction.  The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12 set up the circumstances under which someone can bring up these issues.


Quasi in rem jurisdiction wasn’t properly obtained in Pennoyer.  Why did Field go on to talk about personal jurisdiction when there wasn’t proper in rem jurisdiction in the first place?  Field wants to give us his view of jurisdiction.  He wants to ground it in the Constitution.  Field makes Pennoyer an issue of constitutional law.  This becomes the foundation of personal jurisdiction for some time to come.


Dicta are not law, but if it is followed by other courts, it can become law.


Why did the federal court not have to give full faith and credit to the state court in Pennoyer?  Full Faith and Credit only applies between states, not between a state and federal government.  Today, there is a statute that says the federal government must give full faith and credit to state rulings.


Furthermore, we only give full faith and credit to judgments where there is due process.


What does due process mean in the context of procedure?  It is necessary to establish jurisdiction.  What does due process mean to Neff?  What is due process?  You need service of process in order to have due process.


You need a court that has subject matter jurisdiction and you need the defendant to be served process within that state, or else they must voluntarily appear.


Next time – more on Pennoyer and Rule 12


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