In general, jurisdiction explains any authority above a certain area or a certain personality. In law, jurisdiction usually refers to a certain geographic area with a defined legal authority. For instance, the federal government can be said to be a jurisdiction upon itself since it has powers spanning the whole of the United States (Net Industries, 2009). Each state is equally a jurisdiction unto itself with the powers of passing their own laws. Jurisdiction could equally be used to imply the origin of the authority of a court in which case, a court can be designated as a court of general or special jurisdiction (Net Industries, 2009).
When a Court has Jurisdiction over an Individual/ Subject Matter of a Case In general, courts of general and special jurisdiction posses original jurisdiction above many individual and the subject matter of many cases (Net Industries, 2009). The appeals courts and the highest court of jurisdiction usually has appellate jurisdiction, though in most cases this is not usually the scenario. For instance, according to Article III, Section 2, the second clause, in the Constitution of the United States, the Supreme Court of the United States is a court of appellate jurisdiction.
This has the implication that the U. S Supreme Court has jurisdictions over individual and the subject matter of the cases between states (Net Industries, 2009). Jurisdiction therefore concerns the inherent authority a court has in hearing and declaring judgment in a given case (Net Industries, 2009). The implication here is that when a plaintiff wants to initiate a suite, it is important that they establish the best place to file the complaint. In other words, the plaintiff should file the case in a court having jurisdiction over the case and its subject matter.
In other words, according to the federal and state laws, a court is allowed to exercise inherent authority if it possesses two kinds of jurisdiction; personal and subject matter (Net Industries, 2009). Federal Courts vs. State Courts As indicated above, personal jurisdiction refers to the authority of a court over the parties involved in the case while subject mater jurisdiction is the authority the court has over the particular claim or controversy (Net Industries, 2009). It should be noted also that venue though similar to, is still distinct from jurisdiction.
Venue refers to the physical location of the courthouse where the court is being heard. In a case where more that one court posses both subject matter and personal jurisdiction over a case, the first court to receive the case can refer the case, when requested by one of the involved parties, to a court in a separate jurisdiction (Net Industries, 2009). Therefore venue is not a factor in determining the authority of a court in a given case such as the case of case of CompuServe v. Patterson. A plaintiff can usually file a suit in a federal court. However, it is worth noting that state courts have concurrent jurisdiction in general.
Concurrent jurisdiction implies that both the state and the federal courts posses jurisdiction over the case (Net Industries, 2009). Should a case be filed in either state or federal court, while the plaintiff files the case in the state court, the defendant has the discretion of referring the case to the federal court which would be a tactical decision (Net Industries, 2009). The implication here is that the proceedings of the federal courts are generally considered to be less bias (Net Industries, 2009). This is because the pool of jury is drawn from the whole state as opposed to a local community.
In such a case, a federal court may be preferred to a state court. State courts posses concurrent jurisdiction in many cases although federal courts posses exclusive jurisdiction in limited instances such as bankruptcy, patent, admiralty, copyright as well as suits against the government of the United States (Net Industries, 2009). The Venue of the CompuServe Case: Ohio State Court vs. Federal Court It is clearly evident that case of CompuServe v. Patterson was very complicated more so with the fact that the case involved the internet (CompuServe vs. Patterson, 1996).
It means that the internet is actually shifting the way federal and state courts perceive their jurisdictions in civil suits which involve private litigants (Veta, 2000). To solve internet cases like the case of CompuServe vs. Patterson would require an understanding that the internet is an international network of several computers. This implies that cyberspace connects the geographic boundaries existing between several states; in which case any information placed in the net becomes available to anybody who accesses it around the world (Veta, 2000).
As expected therefore, lawsuits surrounding breach of contracts have emerged. Businesses have sued one another based on contracts pertaining to internet-based transactions such as the case of CompuServe v. Patterson (CompuServe vs. Patterson, 1996), where issues of trademark infringements have been raised. Historically, jurisdiction has been bound by physical location; where the focus of jurisdiction has been the exact location where the crime was committed (Veta, 2000). Our concern therefore is to find out why Ohio state court, and not federal court, was the proper venue for the CompuServe case.
One reason why the Ohio state court, and not federal court, was the proper venue for the CompuServe case arises from the issue of personal jurisdiction (Veta, 2000). Should an individual engage in internet crime such as case of CompuServe v. Patterson, where should such an individual be sued? (CompuServe vs. Patterson, 1996). Up until the 1940’s, such a suite depended on the physical presence of the defendant within the geographic setting of a state (Wildasin & Jones, 2001). There has been a tussle between the federal and the state courts with regards to the way personal jurisdiction should be applied in cases involving the internet.
In most case, the state courts have been found to have better chances of asserting personal jurisdiction than the federal courts (Veta, 2000). Conclusion Finally, the Ohio state court, and not federal court, was the proper venue for the CompuServe case because of the issue of venue (Veta, 2000). Venue concerns the place the case needs to be litigated. Like personal jurisdiction, venue has conventionally been based on the geographic location (Wildasin & Jones, 2001). Since the issue of venue does not arise in cases of the internet such as the case of CompuServe v. Patterson, the Ohio state court was better placed to handle the dispute.
Others issue which made Ohio state court suitable involved the choice of law and the substantive authority (Wildasin & Jones, 2001). The Ohio state court was therefore more preferred to handle the case of CompuServe v. Patterson owing to the oversights of the federal court more so with regards to the issues of substantive authority to regulate, choice of law, venue and personal jurisdiction (Veta, 2000). References CompuServe, Inc. v. Patterson, 89 F. 3d 1257 (6th Cir. 1996). Retrieved February 17, 2009 from http://cyberlawsconsultingcentre. com/wp-content/uploads/compuserve-inc-v-patterson. pdf. Net Industries. (2009).
Jurisdiction – State Civil Court Jurisdiction, Federal Civil Court Jurisdiction, State and Federal Criminal Court Jurisdiction – Venue. Retrieved February 17, 2009 from http://law. jrank. org/pages/7911/Jurisdiction. html Veta, J. (2000). Testimony of D. Jean Veta, Deputy Associate Attorney General: United States Department Subcommittee on the Courts and Intellectual Property on the Judiciary; United States House of Representatives. Retrieved February 17, 2009 from http://www. usdoj. gov/archive//aag/testimony/2000/vetatstfinal. htm Wildasin, M. H. , & Jones, R. A. (2001). Internet Jurisdiction. Journal of Internet Law.