Category: What does . . . mean?

What is the difference between a “claim” and an “issue”?

A claim and an issue are very different. Claims Think of a claim as an assertion that is one is legally entitled to relief from a court.  Let’s say David promises to give Patty his bicycle on Tuesday.  Patty says, “Thanks for the present!” But on Tuesday David refuses to give her his bicycle. Patty decides to sue David.  She will claim that David harmed her by refusing to turn over the bicycle and that the court should help her.  She might claim that she had a contract with David and that David breached the contract. Issues Issues are legal questions that a court must answer before deciding a case. In Patty’s case against David the legal question might be, “Is a defendant required to give a bicycle to a plaintiff if he promised her the bicycle but both parties considered the bicycle to be a present and the plaintiff promised nothing in return?” To decide whether Patty should prevail on her claim the court would need to answer the issue of whether the promise to give a present is legally enforceable.  Put another way, the issue might be phrased as, “Was the promise to give a bicycle a contract between David and Patty that the court must enforce?” Of course, a claim can raise one issue or multiple issues.  The court will identify those issues that are relevant to the case and determine...

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What is the difference between judgment as a matter of law and summary judgment?

Briefly, motions for JMOL and summary judgment are very similar in that  judges apply similar legal standards when deciding these motions, but they are different because they take place at different times during a civil case.  Summary judgment is a pre-trial motion, JMOL is an in-trial or post trial motion. In the federal courts JMOL is governed by Rule 50.  The moving party must wait until its adversary has had an opportunity to present its case before moving for JMOL.  In the motion, the moving party asks the court to rule in its favor because the law and the evidence demonstrate that the moving party must win on one or more issues.  There is no need for a jury to deliberate.  A motion for JMOL has tactical advantages because if the judge denies the motion, the moving party can move again after the trial (a “renewed” motion for JMOL) pursuant to Rule 59. A summary judgment motion, Rule 56, also asks the judge to rule in favor of one party on one or more issues.  Similar to JMOL, the motion argues that the evidence and the law so clearly favors the moving party that the judge should rule in the moving party’s favor.  Typically motions for summary judgment take place after discovery is complete  because at that point the parties have shared all the important evidence in the case.  However, it...

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Constitution and the Distribution of Power Part III: The Supremacy Clause

The Supremacy Clause Why no law is above the Constitution The Constitution and Compromise Back to Part II The Constitution and the Distribution of Power Back to Part I Why the Constitution Trumps other Laws In the prior sections, we discussed how the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation to create a stronger national government. The Constitution organizes the federal government by: dividing power between the national government and state governments (federalism); establishing the three branches of the federal government and dividing power among the three branches (separation of powers); and providing each branch of government with powers to limit the powers of the other branches (checks and balances). The Constitution also establishes itself as the Supreme Law of the Land. Specifically, Article VI, paragraph 2 of the Constitution (the Supremacy Clause) provides: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding. The Supremacy Clause establishes the principle of preemption.  Preemption provides that if there is a conflict between the Constitution and any other law, the Constitution takes precedence.   The Constitution, as well any...

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Sources of Law in the United States Part IV: Administrative Law

Administrative Law Watch the Video Statutes as a Source of Law Go to Statutes Case Law as a Source of Law Go to Case Law Constitution as a Source of Law Go to the Constitution Administrative Rules and Regulations and Administrative Decisions Both Congress and the President empower US government agencies to issue rules and these rules have the force of law.  In addition, administrative agencies issue decisions in certain types of cases that have the effect of...

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