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Re: [Czechlist] Term - Eng - Jurisdiction

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  • James Kirchner
    ... Usually different laws apply in different states. This is why most contracts will specify the state under whose law disputes will be settled, much as they
    Message 1 of 12 , May 3, 2008
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      On May 3, 2008, at 12:19 PM, Jirka Bolech wrote:

      > I'd like to ask, if you spare a minute, just out of curiosity (being a
      > perfect legal layman): is it in the United States in this kind of
      > proceeding
      > that, although all of the participants are US citizens, they may
      > fall under
      > different jurisdictions? Is that only about courts' scopes of power
      > or may
      > different rules apply to them because of different state legislations?

      Usually different laws apply in different states. This is why most
      contracts will specify the state under whose law disputes will be
      settled, much as they do in Europe when they specify the country of
      jurisdiction.

      If the state is not specified in the contract, then some interstate
      disputes have to be settled in federal court, but others are tried
      wherever the hell the plaintiff thinks he'll get the best deal. He
      might file suit in a state where neither one of the parties live or do
      business, if he thinks the outcome will be better. Sometimes
      plaintiffs even choose municipalities for the same reason. Certain
      states and cities are known for having "Santa Claus juries", and
      people know that if they take their disputes there, they have a better
      chance of an outrageously big damage settlement, such as $1.3 million
      for coffee being too hot or $2.5 million because a BMW dealer carried
      out routine dealer prep and paint touchup before selling a car. (Most
      of these really wild settlements are overturned on appeal, by the way.)

      Banks like to locate their credit card subsidiaries in states that
      have no usury laws, such as Delaware. This is why, even though the
      company is really in New York, Chicago, Detroit or Charlotte, North
      Carolina, they've got a token headquarters in some state that allows
      them to charge stratospheric, Jimmy-Carter-era interest rates.

      If a criminal offense involves crossing state lines, then it comes
      under federal law. For example, in the old days, when it was legal in
      some states to get married at 12, if you drive a 13-year-old girl
      from Ohio to Kentucky in order to have sex with her legally, you
      weren't guilty of statutory rape in Kentucky, but you were guilty of a
      federal crime called something like "transporting a minor across state
      lines for immoral purposes", which also had a very stiff penalty.

      If a serial killer or someone murders in more than one state, the
      states agree on which state will prosecute him in what order. If it's
      a slam-dunk, red-handed conviction, they usually give it to whichever
      state has the death penalty, and then the other states don't have the
      case clogging up their schedule.

      In some smaller, crazier civil cases, the disputants agree to have the
      case heard and settled on TV by a retired or currently inactive
      judge. This gets dumb cases off the schedule, and it makes great TV.
      Here are a couple of cases for your viewing pleasure.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r13fttHz_s

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnJnA_mt_UA

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJDK6ctRjqw

      It's all real. No actors.

      That's probably not how a lawyer would explain it, but that's how an
      avid new reader would describe it.

      Jamie




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    • Jirka Bolech
      Hi Jamie: Thanks for your comments. The YouTube videos you ve sent links to are sort of hilarious. US courtrooms are sometimes much like showbiz. On the other
      Message 2 of 12 , May 3, 2008
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        Hi Jamie:

        Thanks for your comments. The YouTube videos you've sent links to are sort
        of hilarious. US courtrooms are sometimes much like showbiz. On the other
        hand, the judges seem to be much more efficient than anything I've ever
        heard or been part of taking place in the Czech Republic...

        Jirka Bolech
      • Michael Trittipo
        ... Yes, you re right, if I m understanding the question: just being a U.S. citizen doesn t mean being subject to suit any any court in the U.S. To the
        Message 3 of 12 , May 3, 2008
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          Jirka Bolech wrote:
          > I'd like to ask, if you spare a minute, just out of curiosity (being a
          > perfect legal layman): is it in the United States in this kind of proceeding
          > that, although all of the participants are US citizens, they may fall under
          > different jurisdictions? Is that only about courts' scopes of power or may
          > different rules apply to them because of different state legislations?

          Yes, you're right, if I'm understanding the question: just being a
          U.S. citizen doesn't mean being subject to suit any any court in the
          U.S. To the contrary, most people can be made defendants in only a
          few courts, and all the others lack power over them. It is because
          the scope of the court's proper exercise of power is limited.

          That's because each state is technically a different country (that
          has given up some of its sovereignty to the central government), and
          most lawsuits are handled in state courts, not in the federal
          (national) system.

          Just as France's courts can't reach into the Czech Republic, and the
          Slovak courts can't reach into Spain, even though all of each
          country's citizens are "Europeans," neither can Indiana's courts
          touch a California defendant, nor Oregon touch a South Dakotan
          defendant, unless the defendant's contacts with the would-be forum
          state exceed a certain minimum threshold level.

          Thus, Jamie can't maintain a lawsuit against me in Michigan; I have
          insufficient contacts with Michigan for it to do so. He could
          always waste money trying to sue me there, but I can guarantee he'd
          fail: the Michigan courts would throw the suit out because they
          couldn't obtain jurisdiction over me.

          That's actually true of the federal courts, too, in most cases.
          There are some extra wrinkles, that I won't get into. But there's
          not a month that goes by that I don't read a judge's decision
          telling the plaintiff that the judge has to throw out plaintiff's
          lawsuit, precisely because the defendant doesn't have sufficient
          contacts with the state where the court sits.

          Actually, the existence of different rules because of different
          state legislations (different rules in Italy than in Switzerland) is
          not a limit on the courts' powers. There's no reason why an Iowa
          court can't apply New York law (if that's the right body of law to
          apply) or vice-versa.

          I hope that answers your questions?
        • James Kirchner
          ... I think the cases chosen for those shows are the ones that make the best showbiz. They re very entertaining, but they re often educational at the same
          Message 4 of 12 , May 3, 2008
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            On May 3, 2008, at 4:47 PM, Jirka Bolech wrote:

            > Thanks for your comments. The YouTube videos you've sent links to
            > are sort
            > of hilarious. US courtrooms are sometimes much like showbiz.

            I think the cases chosen for those shows are the ones that make the
            best showbiz. They're very entertaining, but they're often
            educational at the same time. I understand that after they started
            showing real cases on TV, instead of actors, judges noticed people
            showing up in court better prepared.

            My favorite case ever was one where a young woman had collected $3,000
            in parking tickets in her sister's car and then went to prison on a
            drug charge. She was out again, and her sister was suing her to get
            the money back from paying the parking fines. The deadbeat insisted
            to the judge that she didn't have to pay the money, "Because Jesus
            done forgive my debts when I became a Christian in prison." The judge
            barked at her, "Jesus died for your SINS, not for your parking tickets!"

            You don't have to watch TV to see cases like that, though. One of my
            sisters used to skip school and spend the day watching court trials.

            > On the other hand, the judges seem to be much more efficient than
            > anything I've ever
            > heard or been part of taking place in the Czech Republic...

            These happen to be the cases selected because they could be resolved
            within 15 minutes or a half hour.

            Jamie




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          • James Kirchner
            ... This is true even to the point that if one state wants to try a criminal who is resident in another state, they have to request extradition from that
            Message 5 of 12 , May 3, 2008
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              On May 3, 2008, at 6:29 PM, Michael Trittipo wrote:

              > That's because each state is technically a different country (that
              > has given up some of its sovereignty to the central government), and
              > most lawsuits are handled in state courts, not in the federal
              > (national) system.

              This is true even to the point that if one state wants to try a
              criminal who is resident in another state, they have to request
              extradition from that state, just as they would from another country.

              And sometimes that extradition is refused. In high school we were
              taught about a case where a man crossed the state line in order to
              escape prosecution for a crime he'd committed. Decades later, the
              state he'd left from found him and requested extradition. However, in
              the meantime the man had become a completely model citizen -- not only
              never committing any more crimes, but also greatly contributing to the
              betterment of his community. His state of residence refused to turn
              him over for prosecution.

              Jamie




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            • Jirka Bolech
              Thanks, Michel and Jamie, for educating me further on the subject. We ve basically started a new thread and not a very linguistic one. ... within 15 minutes or
              Message 6 of 12 , May 3, 2008
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                Thanks, Michel and Jamie, for educating me further on the subject. We've
                basically started a new thread and not a very linguistic one.

                > These happen to be the cases selected because they could be resolved
                within 15 minutes or a half hour.

                To pay justice (in exchange ;-)) to the Czech Republic's courts, they do
                deal with some cases efficiently, for example if you fail to have a valid
                fare ticket using city transport and refuse to pay the fine if cought by the
                wardens (or whatever you would call these guys who on a random basis check
                the passsangers for having paid the fare). There's normally no standing for
                that, only a kind of buraeucratic procedure. The same for failing to pay
                your insurance policy; policy contracts leave no space for defence.

                I also admit that the cases in those three particular YouTube shots were
                rather simple and the defendants rather simple too (although the middle one
                [as listed] was just unlucky to upset the judge). What I can't imagine being
                in this country is the way the judges shown there speak to the defendants.
                Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the only real difference is we don't yet have TV
                shows like that over here...

                Jirka Bolech
              • James Kirchner
                ... The fact that it doesn t deal with syntax or linguistic terminology doesn t mean it s not useful to translators. I m finding more and more that people s
                Message 7 of 12 , May 5, 2008
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                  On May 4, 2008, at 2:32 AM, Jirka Bolech wrote:

                  > Thanks, Michel and Jamie, for educating me further on the subject.
                  > We've
                  > basically started a new thread and not a very linguistic one.

                  The fact that it doesn't deal with syntax or linguistic terminology
                  doesn't mean it's not useful to translators. I'm finding more and
                  more that people's problems with translation are often due to an
                  inability to visualize what's behind the words, and absorbing more
                  knowledge about legal systems, technical processes or social behavior
                  helps people make the jump from words on a page to actual
                  understanding and sensible translation.

                  It's possible to know every word on a page, and not understand
                  anything. As I've mentioned before on the list, I demonstrate this
                  with my ESL classes. I give them this paragraph, which contains no
                  words that they don't know:

                  "It was the day of the big party. Jennifer wondered if Tom would like
                  a kite. She went to her room and shook her piggy bank. There was no
                  sound."

                  Then I ask them these questions:

                  1. What kind of party is it?
                  2. How old are Tom and Jennifer?
                  3. Why is there no sound?

                  A woman recently arrived from Lebanon says:

                  1. "The party is a wedding."
                  2. "I don't know how old Tom and Jennifer are, but they're definitely
                  not children."
                  3. "There's no sound because the guests haven't arrived yet."

                  A man from Macedonia says:

                  3. "There's no sound because the wind isn't blowing on the beach, and
                  they can't fly the kites."

                  A woman from Vietnam -- the best student in the class -- says:

                  "I think this paragraph has no meaning!"

                  The Chinese woman agrees.

                  Most of the people who misunderstand the paragraph -- whose meaning is
                  obvious to Americans -- come from countries with no tradition of
                  children's birthday parties or of children having their own money.

                  The same thing can happen to translators, even though they have
                  relatively sophisticated language knowledge. I've done many a repair
                  job on translations that were botched because the first translator
                  couldn't picture the situation. I got one that had a Bohemian glass
                  producer delivering large quantities of glass to St. John twice a
                  year. Of course, by medieval times, St. John had been dead for
                  centuries, but the original translator apparently had no clue about
                  scheduling things according to the Catholic liturgical calendar (such
                  as on the feast of St. John), rather than according to numerical dates.

                  I've seen a Czech interpreter translate an explanation of how vacant
                  housing in an American city is rehabilitated as if the US city were
                  reenacting the 1948 communist seizure of the Czech bourgeoisie's
                  houses and their breaking them up into apartments. The city was
                  actually selling abandoned houses to people at a discount. The Czech
                  interpreter lacked the mental schema for abandoned housing and its
                  disposal, because this doesn't really exist in Europe.

                  The same day, I saw an American banker talk about a volunteer
                  organization of bankers that met a couple of times a week to research
                  and apply for improvement grants for the city. It was all totally for
                  free, but the then mayor of Brno talked to me later and had understood
                  it as a scheme for flowing the grant money through the banks so that
                  the banks could take a piece of it. This was not stated, and it
                  wasn't happening, but because His Honor the Mayor lacked the right
                  cultural schema in his mind, he completely misunderstood what was
                  being told to him, even in his own language.

                  So this cultural stuff is important.

                  Jamie



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