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Public Law & Legal Theory


Federal courts often decide cases that include matters of state law, while state courts often decide cases that raise matters of federal law. Most of these cases are decided within the court system in which they originate. Recent commentary advocates more transjurisdictional adjudication through the expanded use of existing procedural devices, and development of new devices. Some commentators endorse greater use of certification by federal courts, while others advocate greater use of transjurisdictional procedural devices to increase the availability of a federal forum to resolve federal legal issues. In this Article, I call for refinement of this approach and argue that commentators have overlooked several looming obstacles. First, the ability of state courts to resolve issues of state law and federal courts issues of federal law relies upon the erroneous assumption that issues of federal and state law are readily separable. Second, the use of transjurisdictional procedural devices that send back to state court state law issues that federal courts otherwise would decide run the risk of admitting state court bias, or the appearance of bias, against out-of-state litigants. Third, commentators underestimate the extent to which transjurisdictional adjudication relies upon cooperation between court systems. Identifying these obstacles leads to a fuller recognition of the costs and benefits of transjurisdictional adjudication, which in turn is useful as a metric against which to measure existing and proposed transjurisdictional procedural devices and as an aid in refining existing devices.



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