Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Criminal Law vs. Civil Procedure

Here is an example why Criminal Law is typically a favorite of first year students and why Civil Procedure is the red-headed stepchild of intro classes (I can make a comment like that, since I have red hair).

Today in Civil Procedure we parsed through 28 U.S.C. 1367 - a federal statute that grants supplemental jurisdiction to the federal courts. Now, I love the Professor. She's a superstar in the field. She clerked for Breyer, is counsel for Padilla, and welcomes laughs to the classroom. But, despite all that, 70 minutes of analysis based upon the following exception to the statute can be numbing:

(b) In any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction founded solely on section 1332 of this title, the district courts shall not have supplemental jurisdiction under subsection (a) over claims by plaintiffs against persons made parties under Rule 14, 19, 20, or 24 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or over claims by persons proposed to be joined as plaintiffs under Rule 19 of such rules, or seeking to intervene as plaintiffs under Rule 24 of such rules, when exercising supplemental jurisdiction over such claims would be inconsistent with the jurisdictional requirements of section 1332.

This is how your federal government operates. Thrilling isn't it? Now, I buy that you have to know the rules before you can play the game. But, here was our Crim class in comparison:

Battered wives. Self-defense. Murder. Acquittal.

Does a woman who honestly and reasonably but incorrectly believed that her husband was intent on committing her grave bodily harm, have the defense or the right to kill in self-defense? By allowing these defenses, don't we permit self-help homicides for spousal abuse? Has feminism distorted the self-defense claim by blurring the imminent harm requirement? Or, has feminism saved the lives of women by deterring wifebeaters?

That's what we discussed for 70 minutes. Actually, that's what we have discussed for 59 minutes. I have 11 more to go.


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