Category: video

What is the mailbox rule?

The common law mailbox rule is a frequent topic on bar and law school exams.  The rule governs when an offer is accepted.   The law only applies to communciations by mail or by some type of delivery service.  Your state may have law determining whether and how the mailbox rule applies to emails and texts.  The law does not apply to face-to-face discussions or telephone calls. The rule is this:  An offer is accepted once the offeree sends his acceptance by mail, provided he addresses the acceptance correctly.  That’s it.  There’s one exception where the offeree sends more than one communication and I talk about that below.  Everything else in the exam is meant to confuse you.  The mailbox rule does not apply to anything except for mail or courier service and only applies to acceptances – – not revocations, counteroffers, etc. Let’s say Oliver sends a letter to Alan in which he offers to paint Alan’s fence (does anyone send letters like this?).  Maybe Oliver tells Alan in the letter that Alan has until January 16 to accept the offer.  Alan sends a properly addressed letter back to Oliver accepting the offer sometime before January 16.  Say he sends the letter January 15.  Good.  The offer was accepted on January 15.  That is the mailbox rule.  Even if the letter doesn’t reach Oliver, the offer was accepted...

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What is the relationship between discovery and pleading requirements in the United States?

One reason why the United States allows very broad discovery is because courts impose generally lax pleading requirements. A case typically starts with the plaintiff’s Complaint.  In the Complaint, a plaintiff usually does not need to include the evidence supporting her claim.  In the federal courts, she usually only needs to include in the Complaint sufficient factual allegations that a reasonable person would conclude that her claim against the defendant is at least plausible.   The defendant’s Answer, Affirmative Defenses, and Counterclaims will also likely have little, if any, evidence.    But eventually the parties need to prove their cases.  At some point a jury or judge will need to decide whether one side has proven its claims. Discovery “cures” the shortage of facts and information at the beginning of the case.  Through the discovery process, the parties obtain and share evidence and information.    The United States generally favors broad discovery so that a judge or jury can rationally decide the case on a complete set of evidence.  Below is a video I uploaded a while back on discovery and pleading...

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Are mediation and arbitration the same?

No, they are very different. Both mediation and arbitration are examples of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, meaning both are alternatives to resolving a case through the court system.  But they are two very different alternatives to the courts. A useful way to describe mediation is as “assisted negotiation”.  A neutral person will help the disputing parties voluntarily resolve their dispute through discussions.  Mediators use different techniques to help parties reach a compromise.  If the mediation is successful, the parties won’t sue each other and will agree to end their dispute.  Typically one party will agree to compensate the other party. A useful way to describe arbitration is “private justice”.  In an arbitration one or more arbitrators will act as a judge and jury to decide the outcome of a dispute.  Instead of suing in court, the parties will bring their claims against each other in a private proceeding.  Arbitrations are usually confidential, as opposed to court proceedings, which are usually entirely public.  Unlike a mediation, the parties are not trying to resolve their argument through negotiations, they are trying to win by proving or disproving liability. Many contracts include provisions that require the parties to arbitrate.   These provisions are known as “arbitration clauses.”  The arbitration clause will state that in the event of a dispute, the parties agree to not sue in court but instead to initiate...

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What does it mean when a defendant is ‘indicted’? Is the defendant guilty?

An indictment just means that a person was charged with a crime.  The defendant is not guilty, but he was accused of committing the crime. One special characteristic of the United States is that in federal courts and often in state courts a “grand jury” indicts the defendant.  A grand jury is a large jury, 16-23 persons, which reviews the evidence presented by the prosecutor and determines whether there is at least enough evidence to accuse the defendant of committing the crime.  Grand juries are intended to, among other things, act as a shield against meritless prosecutions.  Not all states use the grand jury system and some states only use grand juries for certain crimes.   If the grand jury agrees that there is enough evidence the foreperson of the grand jury will sign the document with the accusations against the defendant.  We would say that the grand jury has indicted the defendant.  Below is a short video on grand...

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What is a fee simple determinable?

I am working to get more property law videos up on my YouTube page.  I just loaded a new one on the fee simple determinable.   Property law in law school is mainly focused on real property, rights to land.  An interest in land is called an estate.  There are different types of estate. A fee simple estate means that a person has as many rights as possible with respect to a particular piece of land.  He can do what he wants with the land (subject to applicable zoning laws of course) and can give it to someone else.   A fee simple determinable is just like a fee simple estate except that the person’s interest in the land can end automatically if something occurs. Let’s say O gives land to A: “I convey this land to you and your heirs so long as you use it for educational purposes.”  Our magic words here are “so long as”.  “So long as”; “while”; “during”; and “until” are words that may create a fee simple determinable.  A has the land but as soon as he no longer uses the land for educational purposes, the land automatically reverts back to O....

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