Saturday, October 27, 2007

A point I've been arguing in one case for a couple of years now

"Standing, however, 'is a threshold jurisdictional question which must be addressed prior to and independent of the merits of a party's claims.' Dillard v. Baldwin County Comm'rs, 225 F.3d 1271, 1275 (11th Cir. 2000); EF Hutton & Co., Inc. v. Hadley, 901 F.2d 979, 983 (11th Cir. 1990)."

Judge Fay, for the Eleventh Circuit, in AT&T Mobility v. NASCAR (the Jeff Burton car case).

The Court goes on to say:

"In fact, we are obliged to consider standing sua sponte even if the parties have not raised the issue because an appellate court “must satisfy itself not only of its own jurisdiction, but also of that of the lower courts in a cause under review.” Bochese v. Town of Ponce Inlet, 405 F.3d 964, 975 (11th Cir. 2005); see also Florida Ass'n of Med. Equip. Dealers v. Apfel, 194 F.3d 1227, 1230 (11th Cir. 1999) (stating that “every court has an independent duty to review standing as a basis for jurisdiction at any time, for every case it adjudicates.”).

On this latter point of appellate jurisdiction, incredibly enough, the law in Virginia is to the contrary:

"We have repeatedly held that challenges to a litigant's standing must be raised at the trial level, and the failure to do so precludes consideration of a litigant's standing by this Court on appeal." Martin v. Ziherl, 269 Va. 35, 39, 607 S.E.2d 367, 368 (2005).

That's weird.

One would suspect that the view attributed to Judge Dobie is more typical:

"Anyone fortunate enough to have had the late Judge Armistead Dobie as a professor will remember his hypothetical used to emphasize the ongoing obligation that a court has to insure that it properly has subject matter jurisdiction over a given case. As Professor Dobie taught, if the janitor comes into the back of the courtroom and says, "Judge, you ain't got jurisdiction," the court must stop what it is doing and determine the jurisdiction question before returning to anything else."

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