(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Supreme Court Today's prediction is for the first case on the argument calendar for next week, Syngenta v. Henson. This is another good one for Jeff Cooper's civil procedure class, or maybe for a second-year Fed Courts class. The question, in paraphrase, is whether the federal All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. sec. 1651, provides a basis for removal jurisdiction of a state-court case, where the prosecution of that state court case would violate a federal class action settlement. [later editorial insert: The deal with class action settlements, by and large, is that they're supposed to end all litigation on the matter. The defendants in this case were peeved because, after they settled a class action, some guy kept prosecuting a state-court case that should have been dismissed as having been resolved by the class action settlement. Defendants were unsuccessful in putting a stop to this diehard litigant in state court, so they removed the case to federal court so that the federal court would put a stop to it once and for all.] "Removal" is the act by which a defendant -- by the mere expedient of filing a piece of paper in state court and a piece of paper in federal court -- sucks up a case from a state courthouse and plops it in the federal courthouse instead. (Removal was also the context of yesterday's argument in Ford v. McCauley, discussed below). There are limits on the types of cases in which defendants can do this. The question in this case is whether, when no other statute confers the right of removal over a state-court case like this, does the All Writs Act do the trick, on the theory that the All Writs Act gives the federal courts the power to do whatever's necessary to enforce their own judgments. To understand the case (now that you know these basics), the best thing to do is to read the Eleventh Circuit's decision -- a beautifully written and argued opinion, I think, the kind of opinion that boosts my faith in the wisdom of the federal appellate bench. I think that it's airtight, and plainly correct based on the reasons that the Court gives, and so the Supreme Court will AFFIRM (thereby resolving a circuit split). [The Eleventh Circuit's answer, by the way, was NO -- the All Writs Act is not a basis for removal jurisdiction.]

posted by sam 12:05 PM 0 comments


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