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Breaking down of Rooker-Feldman and State Immunity for State Caused Problems
Who would have thought Anna Nicole Smith would be so helpful to us all?
This ruling just JUMPED our upcoming county class-actions to the next level, boys and girls!!
This (Anna Nicole - inheritance/damages - state/federal) case was about the proper use of federal subject-matter jurisdiction... and WE WIN!
After an exhaustive review of the 28 pages of this *unanimous* ruling by the USSC (May 1, 2006 -- a ruling made just earlier today, that is), here is what they say, in a nutshell:
1 - the "domestic relations exception" is still, and has always been, a NARROW exception, not to be misused by the lower federal courts (obviously, there's more to it, but this case is a
GREAT case), and that it rarely applies...
2 - like the "domestic relations exception", the "probate exception" used in Anna Nicole's case (a procedurally involved case, involving both parallel state and federal actions) is also an often abused "doctrine" by the lower federal courts, and it's use in
Anna's case was stuck down as well, with the reasoning being the same foundations as what the USSC has done before with the "domestic relations exception"...
3 - some GREAT additional case cites in the ruling itself, like how the State cannot *cause* a federal violation, and then try to prohibit litigants from seeking redress in the federal courts for that/those same violations (i.e., for us in family court reform, like how the State cannot violate our fundamental rights, and then try to have us dismissed out of federal court for seeking vindication of those rights....) (one of my favorites from this case was: "We have long recognized that "a State cannot create a transitory cause of action and at the same time destroy the right to sue on that transitory cause of action in any court having jurisdiction." Tennessee Coal, Iron & R. Co. v. George, 233 U. S. 354, 360 (1914).")
4 - apparently also decided either TODAY, or at most, VERY recently, was another USSC case seemingly dealing the final death-blow to the "Rooker-Feldman" doctrine. **this is very important news to us** The concurring opinion by Justice Stevens, wanting to go even FARTHER in striking down such "abstention doctrines", states, in part: "Rather than preserving whatever vitality that the "exception" has retained as a result of the Markham dicta, I would provide the creature with a decent burial in a grave adjacent to the resting place of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. See Lance v. Dennis, 546 U. S. ___, ___ (2006) (STEVENS, J., dissenting) (slip op., at 2-3)." In other words, this *other* brand new case ruling, Lance v. Dennis, apparently terminated all use of Rooker-Feldman forever... obviously, I will be reading this case immediately!!
3 cheers for Anna Nicole Smith (and her lawyers) and the USSC, for we have just been given the GREEN LIGHT to knock 'em dead in federal courts!!!
Torm Howse, President
Indiana Civil Rights Council