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A. Two kinds of jurisdiction:Before a court can decide a case, it must have jurisdiction over the parties as well as over the subject matter. [7]

1. Subject matter jurisdiction: Subject matter jurisdiction refers to the court’s power to decide the kind of case before it. (Examples of subject matter jurisdiction issues: (1) Does the federal court for the District of New Jersey have the power to decide cases in which the two parties are citizens of different states? (2) Does the Binghamton Municipal Court have the power to decide cases involving more than $1,000?)

2. Jurisdiction over the parties:Jurisdiction over the parties refers to whether the court has jurisdiction to decide a case between the particular parties, or concerning the property, before it. (Examples of issues concerning jurisdiction over the parties: (1) Does Court X have jurisdiction over D, who is a citizen of State X, but who is temporarily out of the state? (2) Does Court Y have jurisdiction over property in State Y where the action is one by P to register title to the land in his name?)

B. Jurisdiction over the parties:There are two distinct requirements which must be met before a court has jurisdiction over the parties: [8]

1. Substantive due process:The court must have power to act, either upon given property, or on a given person so as to subject her to personal liability. The Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause imposes this requirement of power to act, as a matter of "substantive due process."


Procedural due process:
Also, the court must have given the defendant adequate notice of the action against him, and an opportunity to be heard. These, taken together, are requirements of procedural due process, also imposed by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

C. Three kinds of jurisdiction over the parties:There are three different kinds of jurisdiction which a court may exercise over the parties – one of these three must be present for the case to go forward. [8]

1. In personam: In personam jurisdiction, or jurisdiction over the defendant’s "person," gives the court power to issue a judgment against her personally. Thus all of the person’s assets may be seized to satisfy the judgment, and the judgment can be sued upon in other states as well. [8]

2. In rem: In rem jurisdiction, or jurisdiction over a thing, gives the court power to adjudicate a claim made about a piece of property or about a status. (Examples: An action to quiet title to real estate, or an action to pronounce a marriage dissolved.) [8]

3. Quasi in rem jurisdiction:In quasi in rem jurisdiction, the action is begun by seizing property owned by (attachment), or a debt owed to (garnishment) the defendant, within the forum state. The thing seized is a pretext for the court to decide the case without having jurisdiction over the defendant’s person.

Any judgment affects only the property seized, and the judgment cannot be sued upon in any other court. [8]

4. Minimum contacts requirement:If jurisdiction in the case is in personam or quasi in rem, the court may not exercise that jurisdiction unless D has "minimum contacts" with the state in which the court sits. In brief, the requirement of minimum contacts means that D has to have taken actions that were purposefully directed towards the forum state. (Examples of the required action: D sold goods in the state, or incorporated in the state, or visited the state, or bought property in the state, etc.) Without such minimum contacts, exercise of jurisdiction would violate D’s Fourteenth Amendment federal constitutional right to due process. [8]

a. Unreasonable exercise:Even if D has the requisite "minimum contacts" with the forum state, the court will not exercise jurisdiction if considerations of "fair play and substantial justice" would require making D defend in the forum state so unreasonable as to constitute a due process violation. But in most cases, if D has the required minimum contacts with the forum state, it will not be unreasonable for the case to be tried there.

D. Long-arm statute:Most states have "long-arm statutes." A long-arm statute is a statute which permits the court of a state to obtain jurisdiction over persons not physically present within the state at the time of service. (Example: A long-arm might allow jurisdiction over an out-of-stater who has committed a tort in the state.) [9]

1. Substitute service:Long-arms typically provide for "substitute" means of service, since in-state personal service is not possible. (Example: A long-arm statute might allow the plaintiff to cause the defendant to be served out of state by registered mail.)

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