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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Jurisdictional jungle

Another opinion by the Court of Appeals includes what is, to me, a welcome discussion of the word "jurisdiction."

In Moore v. Moore, issued today, the question was whether the court had "jurisdiction" to modify maintenance. In a footnote, Judge Randolph Peterson writes that a restriction on a court's ability to modify maintenance is frequently, but imprecisely, referred to as a question of "jurisdiction."

Peterson notes that many use jurisdiction imprecisely to refer to claims-processing rules or nonjurisdictional limits on court authority but that the Minnesota Supreme Court, among others, has criticized this locution. Let's hope it fades from use among wordsmithing lawyers. I only wish these opinions had been around when I was in law school struggling to get my arms around this thought.

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