General Litigation Newsletters

Diversity in the Courts

While great strides have been made in reducing racial and ethnic discrimination in all areas of society, the problem is not completely gone. It is essential to public confidence in the courts to assure a racial and ethnic neutral court system. Starting in 1988, task forces were implemented in many states to address racial and ethnic discrimination issues in the courts.

Domestic Violence, Firearms, and the Courts

Domestic violence against women is increasingly common in the United States. The United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, estimates that at least one million violent crimes are committed against former spouses or intimate partners each year. The vast majority of these victims are women. Prior domestic violence and the abuser’s access to a firearm greatly increase the likelihood that a female intimate partner will become a homicide victim.

Federal Administrative Law

Federal government agencies are generally established by law or executive order. For example, Congress has passed laws setting up such federal agencies as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Office of Homeland Security.

Opening Statements and Closing Arguments at Trial

A trial begins with opening statements by the attorneys for the litigants (the parties in the lawsuit). The plaintiff (the party suing) has the burden of proof in the case. This means the plaintiff must prove the allegations in his/her complaint in order to win the case. The standard of proof in a civil lawsuit is a preponderance of the evidence (the facts are more in favor of the plaintiff than the defendant, the party being sued.) In a criminal prosecution, the government is the plaintiff. The government has to prove a criminal defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Jurisdiction of a Federal Court

Jurisdiction refers to the authority of a court to hear and decide a case. A federal court’s authority to hear a specific case comes from the United States Constitution and federal laws. It is necessary for a federal court to have both subject matter jurisdiction (power over the legal matter involved in the case) and personal jurisdiction (power over the parties to the lawsuit) for the court to make a legally valid decision in a case.