The Court System and Alternative Dispute Resolution
Chapter Outline I. INTRODUCTION A. Paralegals working in all areas of the law, and particularly litigation paralegals, need to have a basic understanding of the different types of courts that make up the American court system. B. Because of cost, in both time and money, many individuals and firms today are turning to alternative methods of dispute resolution that allow parties to resolve their disputes outside of courts. Jurisdiction It is a big word, and it plays a big part in the law. If you can define and apply the following types, you are well on your way to understanding the legal system: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. II. Jurisdiction over persons Jurisdiction over property Jurisdiction over subject matter Limited jurisdiction General jurisdiction Original jurisdiction Appellate jurisdiction Exclusive jurisdiction Concurrent jurisdiction
BASIC JUDICIAL REQUIREMENTS A. Types of Jurisdiction i. Jurisdiction Over Persons 1. Generally, a court can exercise personal jurisdiction over residents of a certain geographical area. 2. Personal jurisdiction is also known as in personam jurisdiction. 3. Under a long arm statute, a court can exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident when the nonresident had sufficient contacts with the state. ii. Jurisdiction Over Property 1. A court can exercise jurisdiction over property that is located within its boundaries. 2. Jurisdiction over property is known as in rem jurisdiction. iii. Jurisdiction Over Subject Matter 1. This is a limitation on the types of cases a court can hear. 2. In both the state and federal systems, there are courts of general jurisdiction and of limited jurisdiction.
a. Courts of general jurisdiction can hear most types of disputes. b. Courts of limited jurisdiction are restricted in the types of actions they can decide. 3. The subject-matter jurisdiction of a court is usually defined in the statute or constitution creating the court. 4. In both state and federal courts, a court’s subjectmatter jurisdiction can be limited by: a. The subject of the lawsuit b. The amount of money in controversy c. Whether the case is a felony or a misdemeanor d. Whether the proceeding is a trial or an appeal. iv. Original and Appellate Jurisdiction 1. Courts of original jurisdiction are courts in which the trial of a case begins. 2. Any court having original jurisdiction is known as a trial court. 3. Courts of appellate jurisdiction are reviewing courts. 4. Appellate courts do not try cases anew but review the decisions of trial courts. B. Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts i. Federal Questions 1. When a lawsuit is based, at least in part, on some type of federal law, the case comes under the judicial power of the federal courts. ii. Diversity Jurisdiction 1. Federal courts can exercise jurisdiction over claims involving one of the following: a. A federal question, which arises from the U.S. Constitution, a federal treaty, or a federal law b. Diversity of citizenship, which involves a controversy exceeding $75,000 and arises between citizens from different states, citizens from a foreign country and citizens of a...