On July 18, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken heard oral argument in the constitutional climate lawsuit Juliana v. United States. Judge Aiken considered the Trump administration’s latest procedural tactics to avoid trial: a motion for judgment on the pleadings (“MJP”) and a motion for summary judgment (“MSJ”). Supporters for the youth plaintiffs packed the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse courtroom in Eugene and three overflow rooms.
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Authority is the information used to convince a court how to apply the law to the facts of a case. Legal authority is divided into two classes -- primary and secondary. There are two sources of primary authority: (1) constitutions, codes, statutes, and ordinances; and (2) court decisions, preferably from the same jurisdiction where the case is filed. Secondary authority, which is not cited except in certain circumstances, is found in legal encyclopedias, legal texts, treatises, law review articles, and court cases in other jurisdictions.
The disdain by federal judges against pro se litigants is a serious problem in our country, which the Supreme Court and Congress should rectify. Perhaps some judges have seen too many frivolous pro se lawsuits for their liking. Surely many such lawsuits are not meritorious, and the majority are brought by prisoners. Perhaps this is why some judges read only as far as " pro se" before rolling their eyes.
The center’s approach, known as “limited-scope legal assistance,” can fill an important void. Most federal courts devote substantial resources to pro se litigants, such as handbooks and staff time answering process questions, and pro se staff attorneys help judges process cases. But court staff may not give legal advice to litigants, and although private lawyers offer some volunteer assistance, they cannot meet demand.
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The American Board of Trial Advocacy (ABOTA), a national group of experienced trial lawyers, adopted the Principles of Civility, Integrity and Professionalism, which are “intended to discourage conduct that demeans, hampers or obstructs our system of justice.” Principle 19 states that attorneys should “never take depositions for the purpose of harassment or to burden an opponent with increased litigation expenses.”
It is very important that you have all five required elements before you consider filing a case against someone or some entity. After all of these elements are met, you must still follow the procedures set out for the particular court you will file your case with. In Chapter V of this handbook, we will discuss the rules and procedures for filing lawsuits in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho. If your case needs to be filed in any other court, you should contact the clerk's office of that court for information regarding local rules and procedures for filing your particular case.
It is likewise important that the "plaintiff selects the proper venue with the proper jurisdiction to bring his lawsuit." The clerk of a court signs or stamps the court seal upon a summons or citation, which is then served by the plaintiff upon the defendant, together with a copy of the complaint. This service notifies the defendants that they are being sued and that they are limited in the amount of time of a reply. The service provides a copy of the complaint in order to notify the defendants of the nature of the claims. Once the defendants are served with the summons and complaint, they are subject to a time limit to file an answer stating their defenses to the plaintiff's claims, which includes any challenges to the court's jurisdiction, and any counterclaims they wish to assert against the plaintiff.