Michael Wechsler

None, Not Applicable Arthur Miller Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Outline 2016-01-05

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Professor Name
Arthur Miller
Textbook Title
Sum and Substance Audio on Civil Procedure
Textbook Author
Arthur Miller
Class Year
State Law
Federal Law
Law outline for the Sum and Substance Audio on Civil Procedure class given by Professor Arthur Miller. 21 page outline in Microsoft Word format.


Definition: Subject Matter Jurisdiction: A particular court been authorized to hear this matter. The legislature has said "you can hear this issue."

1. Does the court have subject matter jurisdiction?

A. Distribution of Judicial Power: on the basis of the content of the case.

a. Has the Constitution empowered this court to hear this type of case? Constitution of the jurisdiction must state that they can hear these cases:

1. US Constitution for federal courts

2. State Constitution for state courts

b. Article III: Judicial Power: Defines the judicial power of the federal courts

1. Says what kinds of cases the federal courts may hear

2. Creates the Supreme Court (only court provided for in the Constitution)

3. Supreme Court is the only court that must exist.

c. Article I: Legislative Article: Creation and subject matter jurisdiction.

1. Gives Congress the power to create courts inferior (trial, district courts, courts of appeals, etc.) to the Supreme Court. Congress could abolish all courts except the Supreme Court.

2. Congress decides what kind s of cases described in Article III can actually be heard in these courts created by Congress. e.g. Small Claims, Torts, Tax, etc.)

B. Categories of jurisdiction of federal courts under Article III, as implemented under Article I:

1. Federal Question Jurisdiction: Constitutional issue

1. Requirements: Actions arising under the Constitution, treaties or laws of the U.S (U.S.C. § 28-1331)

a. Ask what the plaintiff is aggrieved about and see whether it involves interpretation of the Constitution

b. Claim must arise under plaintiffs claim, not the anticipation of defendant's defense which plaintiff feels will be federal (example e-3).

c. A defense arising under the Constitution won't allow a case to be in federal court either (must be the plaintiffs cause of action)

d. Amount in controversy requirement not applicable.

e. Example: plaintiff owns copyrighted movie protected under US federal code.

1. Licenses to defendant theater in Wisconsin. Defendant failed to pay percentage of box office gross to plaintiff. This is not a federal question, but a breach of contract, not a federal copyright action. It is about copyright law.

2. If no contract, and movie house was exhibiting the movie, therefore infringement of the copyright, that would be a federal question.

3. Same as situation 1, except defendant claims the copyright is invalid. Not arising under because it is not arising under plaintiff claim, just breach of contract.

f. Policy: federal courts are of limited jurisdiction so they do not trod over state power. Federalism is the concept of shared power amongst the states.

1. Concurrent federal JD - Can be heard in state or federal court - e.g. Action under Federal Railroad Workers Act.

2. Exclusive federal JD - e.g. Patent, Copyright. Matters that we need a national standard. Can have different labor laws per state but not different patent laws.
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