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5 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Erie problem- which law applies
In federal question cases in federal court; federal law always applies
Erie Doctrine: In diversity cases federal courts apply:
State Substantive Law (of the state in which the federal ct sits) Federal Procedural Law
Problem is that it isn’t always clear what is “substantive law” and what is “procedural law”
Which Laws are substantive and which are procedural
1. York Outcome determinative test- If application of the law would change the outcome of the case; Substantive
If application of the law would not change the outcome of the case; Procedural
Thus, if application of a federal procedural law would change the outcome; then apply state procedural law (you can’t have a different result in state and federal court)
Problem: Even procedural rules can be outcome determinative (A law that is obviously procedural can be seen as substantive if it changes the outcome of the case)
Statute of Limitations is substantive, b/c its application would change the outcome of the case
2. Byrd Balancing/ Strong federal policy test- Court said York Outcome Determinative Test was supposed to be only one factor to consider in determining whether a law is substantive or procedural
Court must balance York Test with whether there is a strong federal policy
A strong federal policy will outweigh the outcome from the York Test
If there are strong federal policy considerations, the law is procedural
3. Hanna test- If there is a direct clash btw a FRCP and a state procedure rule; use the federal rule
Thus, FRCP control—if neither apply then rely on Byrd & York Tests
FRCP will be seen as procedural
4. Walker (look at rule in context)- Not every FRCP has to be procedural; FRCP can be procedural in some contexts and substantive in other contexts
When a FRCP relates in some way to SOL; this is the only context in which it can be seen as substantive
In Reagan, FRCP 3 (commencement of a civil action by filing complaint with court) was determined to be substantive because it was inextricably tied to SOL, which is substantive
Reverse Erie- Federal claim in state court
When P brings a claim in state court that “arises under” federal law; State court applies federal substantive law and state procedural law
In Dice, the state court was required to hear a federal questions case (FELA) and apply the federal rule of jury trials
Ascertaining state law
When federal courts are deciding substantive state law issues
Devices to Obtain Authoritative Determinations by federal courts:
1. Advisory opinion/ certification- If state case law is antiquated/nonexistent, the federal court can ask the state supreme court to give its opinion of the case in order to apply correct state law
Federal court can exercise this option if they want—but they are not required to
­If they choose not to, they just make a guess as to how the state court would rule on the issue
2. Abstention- Federal courts can abstain from hearing a case—parties then file a separate suit to bring the state law question before a state court:
­When an erroneous decision of state law would disrupt an important complex state regulatory scheme (oil drilling in TX)
­Where state law is unsettled in an area of particular local concern (eminent domain)
­Federal court will not enjoin a pending state criminal prosecution
3. Guess- If federal courts choose not to submit a request for an advisory opinion, the make their best guess as to how the state court would rule on the issue
If a state makes a mistake about federal law; Fed App Ct. or Sup Ct are always available to correct
However, if a federal court makes a mistake about state law issue, the only possible appeal is within the federal system— no appeal to a state court from a federal court decision on a question of state law
4. "Sitting as state courts"- When deciding a question of state substantive law, federal courts should act as a state court of that state
Federal courts can consider a range of sources and policy considerations when there is not a decision of the state’s highest court
Federal Common Law
Judge-made federal law interpreting US Constitutional, Treaty, and Statutory law
The Sup Ct has formulated federal common law in the following areas relying on a strong federal interest:
a. US as a party
b. Foreign Relations
c. Interstate Disputes
d. Admiralty
e. Inferred from US law
In Clearfield Trust, Sup Ct held that because US was a party there was a strong federal interest in applying federal commercial paper laws
In Yazell, Sup Ct refused to admit the case as federal common law because of the absence of specific congressional action, and because federal interest do not require overriding of state rules
When considering cases where the US is a party—that alone is not enough—must also involve a strong federal interest