Delaware Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

Delaware Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

I. Introduction to Civil Procedure
Civil Procedure governs the process and procedures by which civil matters are resolved in court. It involves the rules by which courts conduct civil trials. Civil Procedure is governed both by federal laws, such as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), and by state laws, such as the Delaware Civil Rules of Procedure.

II. Jurisdiction
A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction: The authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type.
– Federal Question Jurisdiction: Cases involving federal law (28 U.S.C. § 1331).
– Diversity Jurisdiction: Cases between citizens of different states with an amount in controversy exceeding $75,000 (28 U.S.C. § 1332).
– Supplemental Jurisdiction: The ability of federal courts to hear additional claims that are related to the original jurisdiction claim (28 U.S.C. § 1367).

B. Personal Jurisdiction: The authority of a court to make decisions binding on the parties involved in the lawsuit.
– In rem and Quasi in rem Jurisdiction: Jurisdiction based on property within the state.
– Specific Jurisdiction: Jurisdiction over a defendant based on specific acts conducted within the forum state.
– General Jurisdiction: Jurisdiction over a defendant based on a continuous and systematic connection with the forum state.

C. Case: International Shoe v. Washington (1945)
Issue: Whether a state court can exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident corporation.
Rule: A court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a party if the party has “minimum contacts” with the state such that the lawsuit does not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”
Application: International Shoe had sales representatives in Washington and received benefits from operating there, creating sufficient contacts with the state.
Conclusion: The Supreme Court held that Washington courts could exercise personal jurisdiction over International Shoe.

III. Pleadings
A. Complaint: The initial document filed by the plaintiff which sets forth the basis of the lawsuit.
B. Answer: The defendant’s response to the complaint.
C. Rule 12 Motions: A series of motions that may be filed to challenge the legal sufficiency of the complaint, including a motion to dismiss.
D. Amended and Supplemental Pleadings: Changes to the pleadings which may be permitted by the court under certain circumstances.

IV. Pretrial Procedure
A. Discovery: The process by which parties obtain information from each other to prepare for trial.
– Interrogatories, Requests for Production, Requests for Admission, Depositions.
B. Motion Practice: Pretrial requests that a court make a ruling or take some other action.
– Summary Judgment: A motion arguing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law (FRCP Rule 56).

V. Trial Procedure
A. Jury Selection: The process of choosing a panel of jurors.
B. Opening Statements: Initial statements made by attorneys to outline the case.
C. Evidence: Presentation of witness testimony, documents, and other proof.
D. Closing Arguments: Final arguments made by attorneys summarizing the case for the jury.

VI. Post-Trial Procedure
A. Motions for New Trial or to Alter or Amend the Judgment.
B. Appeals: Review by a higher court of the trial court’s decision.

VII. Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel
A. Res Judicata: A claim that has been conclusively resolved by a court cannot be litigated again between the same parties.
B. Collateral Estoppel: An issue that has been decisively settled by a court cannot be disputed in a subsequent lawsuit between the same parties.

VIII. Delaware Specific Rules and Practices
A. Delaware Court of Chancery: A court of equity that deals with cases involving fiduciary matters, business disputes, commercial and corporate issues.
B. Delaware’s Unique Approach to Corporate Law: Delaware is a leading jurisdiction for corporate cases, and its courts have developed a substantial body of case law interpreting corporate governance and shareholder rights.
C. Complex Commercial Litigation Division (CCLD) of the Delaware Superior Court: Handles complex commercial cases and provides for efficient resolution of business disputes.

IX. Conclusion
Understanding the fundamentals of Civil Procedure is essential for navigating the legal system. While this study guide provides a broad overview, it is crucial for students to dive into the specifics of each topic, including the nuances of Delaware law, and to review and analyze the relevant cases and statutes in depth. Mastery of Civil Procedure requires both an understanding of the rules and an ability to apply them to complex factual scenarios.

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