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Application: Power and Jurisdictional Authority

Note: The Application Assignment is due by Day 3, prior to the Discussion.

Determining which court has jurisdictional authority over a case, claim, dispute, or a particular party is not simple. Courts are complex institutions granted either limited or sometimes sweeping powers. Identifying and selecting the proper court for the resolution of a specific case is critical. Choosing the wrong court can result in immediate dismissal of the case.

In any claim of jurisdiction, a court lays out its power to entertain a legal dispute. Jurisdiction is essentially grounded in two rules with many nuances—over the person (in personam) and over the subject matter (in rem).

In personam jurisdiction is usually based on residency, the place of dispute, or the place where the act occurred.
In rem jurisdiction is associated with the subject; for example, a tax court has jurisdiction over taxes and a criminal court has jurisdiction over a crime.

Court jurisdiction can be further broken down into a host of other categories, including the right to hear appeals, conduct bench or jury trials, or cover and consider specialized questions such as maritime or international issues.

Finally, court jurisdiction also can be largely geographic. For example, state courts exert primary jurisdiction over matters that do not pertain to questions of federal law involving the Constitution. They primarily tend to local matters within a state”s borders, such as divorce cases.

Federal courts have broader jurisdictional authority; parties, problems, issues, or disputes that involve questions of federal law involving the Constitution, administrative action by federal agencies or federal statute, and laws concerning bankruptcies.

To prepare for this assignment:

Review Chapter 4 of your Course Text, Law and Justice: An Introduction to the American Legal System. Pay attention to the layout of the various courts, depending on jurisdiction and specific judicial powers.
Review the article “Understanding the Federal Courts.” Focus on the federal courts’ jurisdictional authority. Reflect on the types of cases with which a federal court might be associated.
Review the website, “State Courts—by Jurisdiction.” Pay particular attention to your state court”s model.
Review the “Introduction,” “General,” and “The Hearing” sections in the article “Frequently Asked Questions About the Federal Sector Hearing Process.” Pay particular attention to how the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a government agency, adjudicates disputes at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Consider the following cases, and think about which court in your state would be best for each case. As you make your decision, consider how government agencies adjudicate cases and disputes.

Case #1
You have been locked in various stages of litigation over the last five years with a company. The value of your case exceeds $1 million in damages. You have already been to court-ordered conciliation efforts and have received a judicial decision that rejects your argument at the trial court level. The date of the judge’s decision is less than five days old. Both you and your counsel conclude that there is extraordinary merit in your case and that the judge has incorrectly decided. Which other courts might entertain your case?

Case #2
You are involved in a car crash with a resident from another state. The nonresident immediately seeks counsel concerning his particular rights in this case and questions which court would entertain his cause of action. His counsel notes, “Only a federal court can now entertain this case. That is the nature of diversity jurisdiction.” Think about whether this conclusion is correct.

Case #3
You are a Social Security recipient and have been denied a benefit under a determination of the Social Security Administration. The counsel for the Social Security Administration, in response to a letter of inquiry, notes, “Any appeal of our determination must be directly taken to the state court of the appellant’s residency, and once that disposition occurs, the claimant must file with the circuit court of appeals for that jurisdiction.” Reflect on the accuracy of the counsel’s claims. If they are inaccurate, reflect on the steps that may be more appropriate in the appeal.

The assignment (1–2 pages):

Respond to each of the three cases. Make sure to provide examples to support your answers. Also, briefly describe which court in your state would entertain each case, when appropriate, and explain why.
Explain how government agencies adjudicate cases and disputes.

Support your Application Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list only for those resources not included in the Learning Resources for this course.

Submit your assignment by Day 3.

Course Text: Abadinsky, H. (2014). Law, courts and justice in america. (7thed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.
Chapter 4, “The Structure and Administration of the Courts”
Chapter 12, ” Alternative Justice”

Note: The following article can be found in the Walden University Library databases.

Article: Wiltgen, T. S. (2009). Access to justice through mediation. HawaiiBar Journal, 13, 22.
Use the LexisNexis Academic database, select the Legal tab, and search using the article’s title.
Article: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (n.d.). Frequently asked questions about the federal sector hearing process.
“The Hearing”
Article: Office of Judges Programs Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. (2003). Understanding the federal courts.


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