Civil Procedure is a cornerstone of understanding the practical application of law. For students attending law school in Oklahoma, there are several key concepts, principles, and case laws to be mindful of to be successful in an introductory Civil Procedure class. This study guide is intended to provide an overview of the fundamental topics covered, combined with relevant Oklahoma laws and case law.
- Personal Jurisdiction
Personal jurisdiction refers to the court’s power to exercise control over a particular defendant. In Oklahoma, courts have personal jurisdiction over parties domiciled in the state, found within the state, or having contacts with the state. Case law: International Shoe Co. v. Washington. This case established the “minimum contacts” test, which means a defendant must have sufficient contacts with the jurisdiction where the court is located.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Subject matter jurisdiction is the court’s power to hear a particular kind of case. Federal courts have limited jurisdiction, while state courts have general jurisdiction. In Oklahoma, district courts have general jurisdiction over all civil, criminal, probate, and family matters. Case law: Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins. This case established the “Erie Doctrine,” which says federal courts sitting in diversity apply state substantive law and federal procedural law.
Venue refers to the specific geographic area where a court with jurisdiction may hear a case. Oklahoma has a residency-based venue rule mainly, but statutes provide alternate venues for different kinds of actions. Case law: Leroy v. Great Western United Corp. This case clarified that venue is proper in a district where a substantial part of the events occurred.
Pleadings and Motions
Pleadings are the formal written statements of parties to a lawsuit. In Oklahoma, pleadings should contain a short and plain statement of the claim, defenses, and counterclaims. Case law: Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly. This case held that a complaint must contain enough factual matter to state a claim for relief plausible on its face.
Discovery is the pre-trial phase in which each party can request documents and other evidence from other parties or compel the production of evidence by using a subpoena. Oklahoma has adopted the federal rules of civil procedure for discovery with few modifications. Case law: Hickman v. Taylor. This case established the work product doctrine, protecting materials prepared in anticipation of litigation from discovery.
Summary judgment is a judgment entered by a court for one party and against another without a full trial. In Oklahoma, summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Case law: Celotex Corp. v. Catrett. This case held that the moving party can obtain summary judgment by showing that the non-moving party lacks evidence on an essential element of the claim.
Trial and Appeal
In Oklahoma, either party has the right to request a jury trial in civil cases in district court. The decision can be appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Case law: J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B. This case held that peremptory challenges based solely on a prospective juror’s sex are unconstitutional.
Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel
Res judicata prevents the same parties from relitigating a claim that has already been decided. Collateral estoppel prevents relitigation of an issue that was necessary to the judgment in a prior action. Case law: Parklane Hosiery Co. v. Shore. This case established the principle of offensive collateral estoppel.
This guide is a comprehensive review of the main topics of Civil Procedure in Oklahoma. It is by no means exhaustive, but it provides a solid foundation for preparing for a final exam.