Class Rreflection 1

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Chapter2PP.2019.ppt

ACC 150
THE LEGAL ENVIRONMENT OF BUSINESS

With Doreen Smith, Esquire

Chapter 2

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THE COURT SYSTEM AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION OVERVIEW

  • The Court System
  • Federal and state courts
  • The Court Procedure
  • The procedural steps for a lawsuit when the case goes to trial.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • When parties resolve a dispute using alternative methods of resolution (don’t go to trial).

THE COURT SYSTEM

What is a court? Tribunal established by law to:

Hear and decide matters brought before it,

Provide remedies (this would include monetary damages and equitable relief) when wrongs have been committed, and

Prevent possible future wrongs.

Courts award money damages and provide equitable relief.

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THE COURT SYSTEM

  • Jurisdiction
  • Court’s power to hear a court case; the power to act over a particular defendant.
  • Subject matter jurisdiction
  • Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case. For example, the Federal Bankruptcy Court cannot hear a divorce case.
  • General jurisdiction
  • Court that can hear most controversies
  • Limited jurisdiction
  • Court that can hear only a particular type of case. Such as the Federal Bankruptcy Court can only hear bankruptcy cases.

Chapter Two

THE COURT SYSTEM

  • Personal jurisdiction (not covered in textbook but should be covered)
  • This is the power of a court over a particular person (second part of jurisdiction definition).
  • Example: You had a car accident with a Mr. Jones who lives in California. The car accident happened in Pennsylvania and you are a resident of Pennsylvania. You have never been to California. Mr. Jones sues you in California. The California court would lack personal jurisdiction over you.

COURT SYSTEM

  • The courts in the United States are organized into the state and federal court systems, each (generally) with three levels:
  • trial courts (has original jurisdiction).
  • appellate courts.
  • a supreme court.
  • Supreme and appellate courts review the decisions of trial courts and either affirm, reverse or remand the lower court’s decision.
  • Appellate jurisdiction reviews the work of a lower court. No trials occur in an appellate court. This court determines whether the judgment of a lower court was correct.

Chapter Two

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THE FEDERAL COURTS

Chapter Two

United States

Supreme Court

United States Court

Of Appeals

United States

District Court

The U.S. District Court is the trial court in Pennsylvania we have 3 Courts.—the local one is the U.S. District Ct. for the Eastern District of PA

The U.S. Ct. of Appeals is the first appellate court. Pennsylvania is in the 3rd Circuit.

The U.S. Supreme Court is the final appellate court.

PENNSYLVANIA COURTS

Chapter Two

*The Commonwealth Court only hears appeals relating to local or

state government. The Superior Court hears all other appeals.

**De Novo –means over again. In this situation, you can appeal a district justice case and have the entire case tried over again.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

Commonwealth Court*

Superior Court

Court of Common Pleas–

Trial court

Court of Common Pleas-

Trial court

District Justice (Small Claims)

Trial court with de novo** appeal

District Justice (Small Claims)

Trial court with de novo appeal

TRIAL COURT

  • Evidence is presented at the trial level.
  • The testimony, documents or other tangible evidence all gets presented here.
  • Trier of Fact- Usually is a jury
  • Law—This is the province of the judge. The judge presents the jury with the law in the charge (jury instructions).

APPELLATE COURT

  • Intermediate Court of Appeal
  • These Courts hear appeals from the trial court
  • No evidence is given here.
  • Panel of 3 Judges hear cases
  • En Banc—entire court hears case—Only done for important cases.
  • Supreme Court
  • Discretionary jurisdiction—does not have to hear every case
  • Petition for Writ of Certiorari
  • Court can refuse to hear cases

THE COURT SYSTEM

What cases go to federal court?

  • Federal District Courts: general trial courts of original jurisdiction in both civil and criminal matters. Jurisdiction limited to:

Civil suits against United States of America.

Diversity: $75,000 and citizenship from different states.

Cases arising under US Constitution or federal law.

Criminal cases in which a defendant is charged under a federal statute.

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THE COURT SYSTEM

State Court Systems.

  • General Trial Courts. Courts of general and original jurisdiction hear both civil and criminal cases.
  • Specialty Courts. Limited jurisdiction for family law, probate, or juvenile cases.
  • City, Municipal, and Justice Courts. Handle civil matters below a certain jurisdictional amount in dispute and misdemeanor cases. In Pennsylvania, these are called District Justice (DJ’s), Municipal Court or Small Claims Court.

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COURT PROCEDURE

  • Participants in the Court System.

Plaintiff: initiates civil proceedings. Prosecutor initiates criminal proceedings.

Defendant: party against whom civil or criminal case is brought.

Judge: primary officer of the court, manages the case.

Jury: trier of fact, group of citizens and “peers.”

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COURT PROCEDURE

  • Which Law Applies—Conflict of Laws.
  • Law of state where complaint is filed governs procedural issues and rules of evidence.
  • For contract formation, courts apply law of state in which contract was formed.
  • For contract performance, courts apply law of state in which contract is to be performed.
  • International: most significant contacts with transaction.
  • Parties often put choice of law provisions in contracts which then clarifies any choice of law issue if a dispute arises under a contract.

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COURT PROCEDURE

  • Initial Steps in Lawsuit.
  • Commencement of Lawsuit. Begins with filing a complaint, allegations and request for relief.
  • Service of Process. Complaint served on defendant to give proper notice.
  • Defendant’s Response and Pleadings. Defendant can answer and deny the allegations in the complaint, file a motion to dismiss (demurrer), or file counterclaim.

These initial documents are called pleadings.

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COURT PROCEDURE

Initial Steps in Lawsuit.

  • Discovery. Requires each side to disclose, upon request, information relevant to the case.
  • Deposition: testimony of witness under oath, can be used to impeach and preserve.
  • Interrogatories: written questions answered under oath
  • Requests for Production of Documents: requesting written papers, photographs or other relevant physical evidence from the other party in a lawsuit.

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COURT PROCEDURE

  • Initial Steps in Lawsuit.
  • Motion for Summary Judgment. When case has no ‘material facts’ in dispute, judge may award verdict to movant party. This would happen prior to a trial.
  • Designation of Expert Witness. Some special expertise that will help the trier of fact (usually a jury) explain a standard of care or give value to a legal injury.

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COURT PROCEDURE

  • The Trial.
  • Selecting a Jury. Process of voir dire, the parties may challenge the selection of certain potential jurors.
  • Opening Statements.
  • Presentation of Evidence. Judge determines admissibility. Direct-exam of own witnesses, cross-exam of opposing witnesses.
  • Motion for Directed Verdict. Asks the court to rule in movant’s favor because there is no basis for recovery. This motion happens during a trial.

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COURT PROCEDURE

  • The Trial.
  • Summation. Also called closing arguments.
  • Motion for Mistrial. To avoid great injustice, usually based on misconduct or when jurors cannot reach a verdict.
  • Jury Instructions (judge provides law to jury) and Verdict.
  • Motion for New Trial; Motion for JNOV. Court may grant JNOV if verdict is clearly wrong as a matter of law.

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COURT PROCEDURE

  • Posttrial Procedures.
  • Recovery of Costs Generally prevailing party is awarded (this does not include attorney’s fees)
  • Attorney fees are recoverable by prevailing party if a statute allows for that or if a contract provision includes an award of attorneys fees.
  • Execution of Judgment. Accomplished by seizure and sale of losing party’s assets by sheriff. Garnishment is also a common method for collecting judgment.

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ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Chapter Two

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

  • Methods of resolving disputes without having a full jury trial (litigation).
  • The majority of cases filed in court do not proceed to trial (they are settled or resolved by some other form of alternative dispute resolution).

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Arbitration

  • Disputes are resolved by arbitrators who hear evidence and make a binding or non-binding decision.
  • Parties to contracts sometimes negotiate provisions that require disputes to go to binding arbitration (no appeal of judgment).
  • Some statutes require cases to used mandatory arbitration (however then a party can appeal the decision and get a full jury trial).

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Chapter Two

Mediation

  • Disputes are resolved by the parties who use a third person to facilitate their settlement.
  • Mediator acts like a messenger carrying possible offers between parties.
  • Mediators have no power to make a decision.

Summary Jury Trial

  • A mock or dry-run trial so parties can see how the case will play to a jury.

Mini-trial

  • A trial held on portions of the case or certain issues in the case (such as damages).

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

  • Contracts
  • Contract sometimes contain clauses requiring the parties to use ADR to settle the matters.
  • The contract can make the ADR binding or nonbinding.
  • Court Ordered ADR
  • Some courts require ADR for certain kinds of cases.
  • If ADR is mandatory, then the losing party may appeal from ADR.