Author: uslawessentials

What are the major stages of a civil litigation?

This video will walk you through major stages of a civil litigation beginning with the Complaint followed by Defendant’s Response (including the Answer and Motion to Dismiss), Discovery, Summary Judgment, Trial, and the Appeal. The video is very general.  Don’t forget you can search for additional content using the search and category buttons in the right sidebar. More on the Answer is here and here More on the Motion to Dismiss is here. More on Discovery is here.  ...

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What is binding case law?

Case law (often spelled caselaw) is one source of law in the United States. The common law system on which the United States is based provides that judges should apply legal principles from prior cases  – – precedent – – to cases that present similar facts.  For example, if judges in prior cases held that a person cannot form a contract with someone he knows to be intoxicated, judges should apply that legal principle to circumstances where a person tries to form a contract with someone he knows is suffering from another type of condition that would prevent him from thinking clearly. In some situations, judges are required to follow the decisions of judges in prior cases.  Lower courts must follow precedent from superior courts in the same jurisdiction. In the federal court system, trial level courts are called United States District Courts.  The District Courts must follow precedent established by the intermediate appellate courts in their jurisdiction.  For example, New York is in the Second Circuit.  As a result, New York federal courts must follow precedent established by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The same principle applies in state court systems.  New York trial level courts must follow precedent established by appellate courts in the same jurisdiction....

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What is the electoral college system in the United States?

The electoral college system in the United States is an example of a compromise in the United States Constitution. Read more about compromises in the Constitution When the United States was founded, some Americans favored a system of direct democracy, in which after each vote is counted the candidate with the most votes would win.   Other American favored a more indirect system in which either Congress or the States would select the President. The Electoral College was a compromise.  The system provides that each state designates a certain number of Electors, based on the state’s population.  The state’s Electors vote for a candidate after the states’ citizens finish voting.  The candidate who wins a majority of votes in the Electoral College becomes the President of the United States. Almost all states follow a winner-take-all system.  That is, the Electors must vote for the candidate who won a plurality of votes in that...

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For diversity jurisdiction, how does a court determine the amount in controversy?

28 USC § 1332 and Calculating Amount in Controversy 28 USC §1332 provides that where plaintiffs and defendants are from different states, a federal court may assert diversity subject matter  jurisdiction if the ‘amount in controversy’ exceeds $75,000. How is the amount in controversy calculated? As a general rule, courts will defer to the plaintiff’s good-faith demand in her complaint.  For example, if a plaintiff alleges, in good-faith, that she suffered $80,000 in damages, this should be enough to satisfy the amount in controversy requirement.  Even if the plaintiff recovers $1,000, significantly less than the threshold requirement, this will not affect subject matter jurisdiction. However, if the court concludes to a “legal certainty” that the amount in controversy is insufficient, then the court should dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  For example, let’s say a plaintiff sues over an alleged breach of contract.   If the contract has a clause that limits liability to $50,000, then the court will probably dismiss the case on grounds that the amount in controversy does not satisfy the threshold requirements of 28 USC § 1332. Aggregating Claims If a plaintiff has multiple claims against a single defendant then we may aggregate claims.  For example, a $40,000 breach of contract claim and a $50,000 tort claim against one defendant can be combined.  $90,000 > $75,000. But courts may not aggregate claims against multiple defendants or claims by multiple plaintiffs.  ...

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What is due process of law?

Take me to the videos The Right to Due Process The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution provide that no one can be deprived of “life, liberty, or property” without “due process of law.”  Courts refer to these clauses as the “due process clauses.” Meaning of Due Process Due process means that a person has the right to fair procedures before the government takes away her life, freedom, or property.  As one example, the due process clauses protect a person’s right to a fair trial before being sent to prison. Why does the Due Process Clause appear in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments? Because  the Fifth Amendment only applies to the federal government.   The Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause  provides, “… nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”  State governments must also provide due process of law. Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment to insure that state governments did not deprive black people – – former slaves – – of the Constitution’s basic freedoms. Incorporation Over the years, the Supreme Court has gradually held that nearly all of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights apply to the states because of the Fourteenth Amendment.  The Supreme Court’s application of the Bill of Rights to the states is called incorporation of the Bill of Rights against the...

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