Today marks exactly one year to the day that I first started writing the ‘voluminous’ Case Law Compendium: United States Case Law, and its pretty incredible to think that so much time has already passed, particularly given that I’m not even midway through the book yet!
Anyway, needless to say my hard work continues on undaunted, and I’m hoping to share the first half of the criminal law section here in the next couple of weeks, so watch this space if you’re interested to learn more…
Having recently completed this preliminary chapter of the book, I have provided a list of the cases covered in the civil procedure section for those that might be mildly curious. I would also add that it’s been a genuine pleasure reading and analysing these cases, all of which have helped educate me as to the intricate nature of State and Federal legalities, and I can only hope the readers will take as much pleasure in their reading, as I have in their writing.
I am very pleased to announce that after studying and writing around 73 historically significant United States civil procedure cases, this first chapter of my second case law compendium is now finally complete.
In all honesty it has been an absolute pleasure to work on, and I have learnt much about American law, and by comparison to English case law transcripts, this experience has revealed many judicial differences in both approach and determination, most of which lends an endearing quality to the American style of prose and execution, an outcome that comes as a pleasant, if not unexpected surprise, while it must be equally stressed that when embracing not only State but federal laws, the legal fabric of this diverse and yet oddly familiar country always keeps me excited and frustrated when tying up the necessary facts and vital components required.
On a side note, my relationship with the Bluebook is naturally growing by the day, and I am glad to know that it’s not only me that finds it perplexing to navigate (as countless Google searches have testified), and yet if someone were willing to pay me, I would be happy to rewrite this complex little book so that maybe it might prove more ‘user friendly’, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon…
As a reward, I shall celebrate tonight with one or two American ales and few episodes of ‘Friends’ as tomorrow work will again begin on Constitutional Law, and needless to say I am very much looking forward to discovering even more about the laws and practices of the United States of America as the weeks and cases unfold.
Today marks the commencement of my writing ‘The Case Law Compendium: United States Law’, the second instalment of ‘The Black Letter’ series of books, and my excitement is quietly simmering away as I begin preparing for the months ahead.
This compendium covers the principle law modules offered within leading American universities and Law Schools at Juris Doctor level, and will therefore include civil procedure, constitutional law, contract law, criminal law, property law and tort law. While I appreciate there has been a shift towards comparative and international law, particularly within educational institutions such as Harvard University, when similarly examining both Stanford and Yale, there appears an inclination to adhere to the core fields as shown above, hence I have decided to remain true to that ethos for simplicity’s sake.
While consciously adopting a linear approach, I aim to include around 385 case studies – well over twice the number found in ‘The Case Law Compendium: English & European Law’, and although there is perhaps obvious reason for this, particularly given the size and legal structure of American jurisdiction, I feel the end result will provide law students with more than sufficient insight into the mechanics of notable U.S. case law.
On a personal note, I am very much looking forward to this journey, and estimate that the book should be finished and available for purchase around summer of 2019, adding that I will consciously try to publish new case studies to this website where time permits.
In closing, I would like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to those of you who purchased my first book (or plan to soon) and I sincerely hope that my efforts have been of valued assistance when working towards your chosen vocations.
Choice of venue within a civil action, while enjoyed by claimants for honourable reasons, can sometimes prove destructive to the roots of a claim when the right is abused or exercised in error. In this instance, the want of policy ran risk of disrupting and possibly destroying, the need for redress through the use of established legal doctrine.
In 1944, the appellants supplied a delivery of gasoline to the respondent in Lynchburg, Virginia, whereupon an explosion caused significant damage to the establishment, customers property and pecuniary standing of the proprietor. Upon litigation, the respondent sought damages of around $365,000, and when exercising his civil rights, elected to issue proceedings in the state of New York, as explained under 28 § 1391(b) U.S.C., which reads:
“A civil action may be brought in (1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located.”
And yet with appreciation that the appellants were based in New York, the court elected to challenge the choice of venue on grounds of ‘forum non conveniens’, which translated that although the claimant had a right to choose the venue best suited to their needs, the location of the actual event, the relevant evidence, potential expedience, lower legal costs and optimal attendance of both jurors and witnesses, demonstrated that the hearing was best heard in Virginia, as opposed to a courtroom almost four-hundred miles away.
Taken to the district appeal court, the decision was reversed back in favour of the claimant, whereupon the matter was further escalated to the U.S. Supreme Court under writ of certiorari. Here, it was noted that it was not unusual for claimants to abuse § 1391 by choosing inconvenient forums as a means of vexing and oppressing the defendant, thereby reducing the opportunity of a fair trial, while it also became apparent that on this occasion, the lawyer acting under instruction for the claimant resided in New York, and was retained by the insurance firm for reasons benefiting their own interests, hence arguing strongly in favour of one venue over the other, despite the obvious inconvenience to the claimant.
In light of this glaring disparity, the Court held that there were simply too many reasons for a trial to be held in Virginia, and that despite any contention that the district court had acted ultra vires, the judgment of the appeal court was too narrow an interpretation of the doctrine, and so the decision was reversed with a view to proceedings in Lynchburg.
Litigation for loss of earnings through discriminatory dismissal is a linear process within state jurisdiction, however when the employer is a federal representative, the rules according to civil suits are subject to close examination.
Having enjoyed work as a cleric within the Spokane County Treasury, the claimant was dismissed under s.36.16.070 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), which grants that:
“The officer appointing a deputy or other employee shall be responsible for the acts of his or her appointees upon his or her official bond and may revoke each appointment at pleasure.”
Under a claim in the district court, the now appellant argued that dismissal merely for living with her boyfriend was a violation of the First, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and that under the circumstances, the Treasury was equally liable under 42 USC § 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which provides that:
“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress…”
It was for these reasons that an injunction was requested against the appointing officer and his wife, while the county was deemed subject to vicarious liability through the misconduct of the two named employees, both of which claims were brought under the powers of 28 USC § 1343(3), which explains that the district courts are required:
“(3) To redress the deprivation, under color of any State law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage, of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any Act of Congress providing for equal rights of citizens or of all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States…”
When first heard, the court held that Spokane County could not be held liable as a ‘person’ and therefore no suit could be brought against them, after which the appellant sought relief through the court of appeals, who with reference to 28 USC § 1343(3), upheld the previous decision, however when taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, greater detail was paid to the doctrine of both ‘pendent’ and ‘ancillary’ jurisdiction, upon which the ruling in UnitedMine Workers v. Gibbs determined how the former provided that:
“[S]tate and federal claims must derive from a common nucleus of operative fact. But if, considered without regard to their federal or state character, a plaintiff’s claims are such that he would ordinarily be expected to try them all in one judicial proceeding, then, assuming substantiality of the federal issues, there is Power in federal courts to hear the whole.”
While the latter was outlined in Fulton Bank v. Hozier, when it was held how:
“The general rule is that when a federal court has properly acquired jurisdiction over a cause, it may entertain, by intervention, dependent or ancillary controversies; but no controversy can be regarded as dependent or ancillary unless it has direct relation to property or assets actually or constructively drawn into the court’s possession or control by the principal suit.”
However, on this occasion both approaches ran counter to the principle held in the appeals court that:
“[F]ederal courts should be wary of extending court-created doctrines of jurisdiction to reach parties who are expressly excluded by Congress from liability, and hence federal jurisdiction…”
This translated that while art. III of the Federal Constitution allowed the Supreme Court to vest adjudicatory powers to the lower courts, the conflicting principles of both 42 USC § 1983 and that of the appeals court prevented the Court from allowing a mergence of the two claims, despite their obvious connectivity, and which resulted in dismissal of the appeal despite a majority dissent.