Civil Procedure

A TALE OF TWO CIVIL PROCEDURES

Pamela K. Bookman* & Colleen F. Shanahan**

In the United States, there are two kinds of courts: federal and state. Civil procedure classes and scholarship largely focus on federal courts but refer to and make certain assumptions about state courts. While this dichotomy makes sense when discussing some issues, for many aspects of procedure this breakdown can be misleading. Two different categories of courts are just as salient for understanding American civil justice: those that routinely...

The discovery process is the most distinctive feature of American civil procedure. Discovery has been referred to as procedure’s “backbone” and its “central” axis. Yet 98% of American cases take place in state judiciaries where there is little to no discovery. Most state court cases involve unrepresented parties litigating debt collection, eviction, family law, and employment claims. And the state rules of procedure rarely give these...

JUDGING WITHOUT A J.D.

Sara Sternberg Greene* & Kristen M. Renberg**

One of the most basic assumptions of our legal system is that when two parties face off in court, the case will be adjudicated before a judge who is trained in the law. This Essay begins by showing that, empirically, the assumption that most judges have legal training does not hold true for many low-level state courts. Using data we compiled from all fifty states and the District of Columbia, we find that thirty-two states allow at least some low-level...

Class actions for monetary relief have long been the subject of in­tense legal and political debate. The stakes are now higher than ever. Contractual agreements requiring arbitration are proliferating, limit­ing the availability of class actions as a vehicle for collective redress. In Congress, legislative proposals related to class actions are mired in par­ti­san division. Democrats would roll back mandatory arbitration agree­ments while...

The Supreme Court has made clear that a district court may grant class action certification only after conducting a rigorous analysis to ensure that the requirements of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have been met. Less clear, however, is what exactly a rigorous analysis entails. As precertification scrutiny has become more robust, reliance on expert testimony has become nearly indispensable for obtain­ing class certification....

In the 1951 case United States ex rel. Touhy v. Ragen, the Supreme Court determined that courts can’t hold federal agency officials in contempt for refusing to comply with nonparty subpoenas if they do so pursuant to valid agency regulations. Though the Court suggested that litigants could still challenge these noncompliance decisions, it didn’t flesh out what that process would look like. Following Touhy, federal...

DELEGATING PROCEDURE

Matthew A. Shapiro*

The rise of arbitration has been one of the most significant develop­ments in civil justice. Many scholars have criticized arbitration for, among other things, “privatizing” or “delegating” the state’s dispute-resolution powers and allowing private parties to abuse those powers with virtual impunity. An implicit assumption underlying this critique is that civil procedure, in contrast to arbitration, does not delegate sig­nificant state...

One of the most dramatic exercises of a court’s equitable authority is the nationwide injunction. Although this phenomenon has become more prominent in recent years, it is a routine fixture of the jurisprudence of federal courts. Despite the frequency with which these cases arise, there has been no systematic scholarly or judicial analysis of when courts issue nationwide injunctions and little discussion of when they should issue such relief.