Hawaii Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

Hawaii Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

I. Jurisdiction and Venue

  • Subject Matter Jurisdiction: The authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to specific subject matter. Hawaii state courts have broad subject matter jurisdiction.

  • Personal Jurisdiction: The power of a court to bring a person into its adjudicative process; jurisdiction over a defendant’s personal rights, rather than merely over property interests. Hawaii follows the U.S. Supreme Court precedent, International Shoe Co. v. Washington (1945), which requires minimum contacts with the forum state.

    IRAC for International Shoe Co. v. Washington:

    • Issue: Whether a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident corporation based on its activities in the state.
    • Rule: The “minimum contacts” standard, where a court can exercise personal jurisdiction if the defendant has sufficient contacts with the forum state and jurisdiction does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.
    • Analysis: International Shoe had salesmen in Washington, which were deemed systematic and continuous activities in the state, justifying personal jurisdiction.
    • Conclusion: The Supreme Court held that personal jurisdiction was appropriate under the minimum contacts standard.
  • Venue: The geographic specification of the proper court for litigation of a civil action that is within the jurisdiction of the court. Hawaii follows the general federal venue guidelines, which can be found in 28 U.S.C. § 1391.

II. Pleadings

  • Complaints and Answers: The initial pleading by the plaintiff stating their case, and the defendant’s response.
  • Rule 12 Motions: Pretrial motions that can be used to challenge the legal sufficiency of a claim, including motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
  • Amended and Supplemental Pleadings: The ability to change pleadings in response to various circumstances; governed by Hawaii Rules of Civil Procedure (HRCP) Rule 15.

III. Discovery

  • Scope and Limits: Discovery in Hawaii is governed by HRCP Rule 26, which sets forth the scope of discovery and its limits. Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party.
  • Electronic Discovery: The process of identifying, collecting, and producing electronically stored information in litigation.
  • Protective Orders and Managing Discovery: Courts have discretion to issue protective orders to limit discovery for various reasons, including undue burden or expense.

IV. Pre-Trial Procedures

  • Summary Judgment: Governed by HRCP Rule 56, it allows for a party to win the case without a trial if there is no genuine dispute of material fact.
  • Judgment as a Matter of Law (JMOL): A motion made during trial claiming the opposing party has insufficient evidence to reasonably support its case.

V. Trial

  • Jury Selection: Process known as “voir dire,” where potential jurors are questioned to determine any biases or inability to serve impartially.
  • Conduct of Trial: The sequence of trial typically includes opening statements, presentation of evidence, witness testimony, and closing arguments.
  • Hawaii Specific Procedures: Be aware of any Hawaii-specific trial procedures, such as those relating to jury instructions or verdict forms that may differ from federal practice.

VI. Post-Trial Motions

  • Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law (RJMOL): After a jury verdict, the losing party may file this motion if they believe there was no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find as it did.
  • Motion for a New Trial: If the trial was not fair, due to legal error or other factors, a party may seek a new trial.

VII. Appeal

  • Notice of Appeal: A party must file a notice of appeal to initiate an appellate review of the trial court’s decision.
  • Standards of Review: Different issues on appeal are reviewed differently, including de novo review for legal questions and “abuse of discretion” for many procedural issues.

VIII. Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel

  • Res Judicata (Claim Preclusion): A final judgment on the merits bars further claims by parties or their privies based on the same cause of action.
  • Collateral Estoppel (Issue Preclusion): Once a court has decided an issue of fact or law necessary to its judgment, that decision may preclude re-litigation of the issue in a suit on a different cause of action involving a party to the first case.

IX. Hawaii Specific Laws and Cases

  • Hawaii Rules of Civil Procedure (HRCP): These are the rules governing civil procedure in Hawaii state courts.
  • Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA): Pay special attention to ICA rulings, as they interpret and apply Hawaii law specifically.
  • Unique Hawaii Statutes: Be aware of any statutes unique to Hawaii that may impact civil procedure, such as those related to native Hawaiian rights, land use, and environmental law.

In preparing for your 1L Civil Procedure final exam, it is important to understand the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) and how Hawaii’s state-specific rules and statutes may vary from federal practice. Focus on the Hawaii Rules of Civil Procedure (HRCP), significant Hawaii case law, and any nuances that are particularly relevant to practicing law in Hawaii. Remember to analyze cases using the IRAC method to structure your understanding of how rules are applied in specific legal scenarios.

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