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Here are my notes from a guest lecture by Tim Snyder, former executive PHC debate coach, highschool and college national-class debater, and current businessman and law student.

Surprising Topics to Explore:

  • UCMJ Reform
  • Military Appeals
  • 12 Courts of Appeal
  • Specialized Courts
  • Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • Independent Regulatory Agencies
  • Legislative Courts


Crazy example… a guy from NY gets in an accident in CO, with a driver from CA, then a motorcyclist from GA runs him over, then a doctor from NY driving by stops and helps him… but commits malpractice and causes brain damage. Whose jurisdiction?

Complete Diversity of jurisdiction means “everyone” is from a different jurisdiction, but in the example above two are from NY. So things get sticky and there are strategies involved in which jurisdiction a case will use.

There’s even a thing called “tag jurisdiction,” like serving someone papers as they walk off a plane to California, and are from another state, tagging them in California’s jurisdiction. Tag, you’re it!

Jurisdiction-Based Case Ideas

  • Reform the process of how the Supreme Court hears cases. Changing how it decides which cases to hear, for example.
  • Re-do the juridsictions. (e.g. 9th circuit goes boom)
  • International trade. If California makes a treaty or trade agreement with another country, the Feds say “it’s a Federal jurisdiction issue.”
  • Streamline the way jurisdiction is handled (look up author Steven Platt).
  • Get rid of or change the minimal contacts rule, because it’s unfair to small businesses.
  • Re-examine the “zippo test” for Internet transactions.
  • And throw in class action suits to the mix. Wow the complexity. You could reform how class actions work really easily.

Criteria and Goals

What should a good court system do? There are many tensions of values.

Fairness, Justice, Accessibility, Transparency, Predictability, Speed, Cost (of getting justice).


Pre-Trial: There’s a complaint, serving of papers, and an answer. Then you enter the discovery phase. In discovery, you can request specific documents, request interviews (depositions), and further information. Do you see the problems with this?

  • Possibility to steal secrets and information
  • Skyrocketing costs, for both parties (and sometimes only one has much money)

Civil Procedure Review

See slides… forthcoming. ANY item here could be reformed. Use these terms for your searched. Law students have to write on this sort of stuff.


Further Reading

State vs. Federal System

Canons of Interpretation

Green v Bock Laundry Mach Co

Wal-Mart Stores Inc v Dukes

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