Chapter Three: Judicial System

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Chapter Three: Judicial System

U.S. Constitution Article III, Section 2

Federal Courts

Limited Jurisdiction – only as enumerated in the constitution

Original Jurisdiction – in some cases, must go directly to federal courts

Appellate Jurisdiction – in other cases, may appeal

Congressional Authorization – Congress can authorize

Chapter Three: Judicial System

Subject Matter Jurisdiction – court has to have subject matter over the legal issues in question or it cannot hear the case…

Federal question?

Constitution forms an ingredient of an original cause …

Arises under federal law … where the U.S. Is a party to the case…

Suit arises under the law that creates the cause of action …

LOUISVILLE & N. R. CO. v. MOTTLEY, 211 U.S. 149 (1908), 211 U.S. 149 Facts: Railroad gives free passes to individual for life to settle a lawsuit. Totally unrelated, Congress makes it illegal to give away free train passes. Train company stops giving the free passes.

Sued in Federal Court, Plaintiff’s win and it goes to Supreme Court, which said:

Breach of contract claim, not a federal question: “The object of the suit was to compel the specific performance of (a) contract…” Simply stated, this lawsuit was over a breach of contract.

Court has no subject matter jurisdiction because it is not a federal question

Diversity did not apply either because both parties were from the same state.

Chapter Three: Judicial System

Limitations on Federal SMJ:

The well-pleaded complaint (if its poorly pled, then the case can get tossed): Must explain why the federal court has subject matter jurisdiction. “Plaintiff alleges that this cause of action against Defendant arises under federal law as Defendant violated Plaintiff’s federal rights under HIPPA…”

Substantiality Test: No jurisdiction exists “…when the claim is ‘insubstantial, implausible, foreclosed by prior decisions of this Court, or otherwise completely devoid of merit as to not involve a federal controversy.’”

Still must have federal law as the main basis of the “claims”, unless state law claims implicate significant federal issues.

Chapter Three: Judicial System

Diversity of Citizenship – “open … doors to those who might otherwise suffer from local prejudice against out-of-state parties.” Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 130 S. Ct. 1181 (2010).

Plaintiff and defendant – Reside in different states

The amount in controversy is over $75,000

Concurrent jurisdiction: Federal court will have concurrent jurisdiction over some of these matters. (Ex. Ohio Plaintiff gets in car accident with Michigan Defendant in Michigan and damages exceed $75,000. Ohio plaintiff can sue defendant in Michigan state court for negligence, or he can file in Michigan (maybe even Ohio) Federal District court for negligence and the federal court has concurrent jurisdiction with the state court under diversity of citizenship.

Complete diversity of all parties.

Chapter Three: Judicial System

Concurrent Jurisdiction:

The state court can also hear a “diversity” case and when both the federal and state court can hear a case, then concurrent jurisdiction exists

Exclusive Jurisdiction:

When the United States is a party, then the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. Also in cases where a state is a party or cases involving ambassadors or other public ministers… then the U.S. Supreme Court has exclusive jurisidiction…. U.S. Const. art. III Sec. 2.

U.S. a party, state a party against another state, ambassadors or public ministers? Three are easy to define – but what is a public minister? Is it relevant today?

Chapter Three: Judicial System

Thirteen (13) Circuit Courts

Multiple Districts within the Thirteen (13) circuits

Example: 6th Circuit comprised of four (4) states: Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee

Nine (9) Districts: Eastern and Western Michigan, Northern and Southern Ohio, Eastern and Western Kentucky and Eastern, Central and Western Tennessee

Appeals Court Location: Cincinnati, OH; so all appeals from the district courts get appealed to the Cincinnati Court.

Comprised of states (50) and territories (Puerto Rico (1st), Virgin Islands (2nd), Guam and Northern Mariana Islands (9th), and Washington D. C.

Includes a Federal Circuit as well as a D.C.

Federal Circuits

Chapter Three: Judicial System

U.S. Supreme Court:

Constitution grant the Supreme Court original jurisdiction in certain matters, as designated by Article III of the Constitution such as when more than one state is a party, or cases involving ambassadors or other public ministers. But, it also allowed Congress to determine whether the jurisdiction would be exclusive or shared…. U.S. Const. art. III Sec. 2.

“In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and those in which a state shall be a party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.”

In 1978, for example, Congress gave the Supreme Court the ability to exercise concurrent jurisdiction with the U.S. District Courts on matters related to cases involving ambassadors… 28 USC Sec. 1251, Public Law 95-393

Chapter Three: Judicial System

Nine (9) Supreme Court Justices, highest ranking in the land.



As of August 2, 2016: Eight(8)





Hierarchy (Federal Court System)

Chapter Three: Judicial System

State Courts – Each state is a little different, whereas Louisiana is really different. But the state court systems operate somewhat akin to the federal system with the following hierarchy:


STATE SUPREME COURT CITE: OHIO   P v. D, 1. Ohio St.3d 10 (2016)

COURT OF APPEALS CITE: OHIO Northwest Ohio P v. D, 6th Dist. No. 16-01-01, 2016-Ohio-1010



Civil law versus Criminal law – and the relevant procedures:

Due process in the 6th, 7th and 14th amendments to the constitution.


Chapter Three: Judicial System

Chapter Three: Judicial System

Chapter Three: Judicial System

Federal Court CircuitStates Federal Court Location# of Districts


Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,

Puerto Rico

Boston, MA5

2ndConnecticut, New York, VermontNew York, NY6

3rdDelaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virgin IslandsPhiladelphia, PA6


Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia,

West Virginia

Richmond, VA9

5thLouisiana, Mississippi, TexasNew Orleans, LA9

6thKentucky, Michigan, Ohio, TennesseeCincinnati, OH9

7thIndiana, Illinois, WisconsinChicago, IL7


Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, North Dakota, South

Dakota, Nebraska

St. Louis, MO10


Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California,

Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands

San Francisco, CA15

10thKansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, OklahomaDenver, CO8

11thFlorida, Georgia, AlabamaAtlanta, GA9

D.C. CircuitWashington, D.C.Washington, D.C.1

Federal CircuitWashington, D.C.Washington, D.C.