Quianna Canada

Automobile accident

Hawkins v. Masters Farms Inc., WL 21555767 (D. Kan. 2003)

FACTS: On December 8, 2000, Mr. Creal was killed in an automobile accident on Mineral Point Road, just south of Troy, Kansas, when his 1988 Chevrolet van collided with a New Holland tractor driven by Defendant Masters [a citizen of Kansas]. From the time Mr. and Mrs. Creal first met until Mr. Creal’s death in December 2000, Mr. Creal retained certain connections with the State of Missouri.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Plaintiffs filed action in federal court alleging the existence of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

JUDGMENT: Defendants’ motion to dismiss granted.

ISSUE: Whether Mr. Creal was a citizen of the State of Kansas or the State of Missouri at the time of his death.

HOLDING OF THE COURT: Mr. Creal was a citizen of the State of Kansas at the time of his death.

RATIONALE: At the time of Mr. Creal’s death, he not only established a physical presence in the State of Kansas, but also displayed an intent to remain there, demonstrating no diversity of citizenship. Although Mr. Creal retained some connections with the State of Missouri, the court did not find these connections sufficient to overcome the evidence that his actions from January 2000 until the time of his death demonstrated an intent to remain with his wife in the State of Kansas. Therefore, subject matter jurisdiction could not be established.

COMMENTS: When determining whether diversity jurisdiction exists, a person is a “citizen” of the state in which he or she is “domiciled.” “For adults, domicile is established by physical presence in a place in connection with a certain state of mind concerning one’s intent to remain there.” Miss. Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 48 (1989). In this case, the Defendants attacked Plaintiffs’ allegations of diversity subject matter jurisdiction. As the party seeking to invoke federal jurisdiction, Plaintiffs bear the burden of proving that jurisdiction is proper. Because federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, the presumption is against federal jurisdiction.

Supreme Court of the United States

Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963)

FACTS: Clarence E. Gideon was charged in a Florida state court with having broken and entered a poolroom, a felony under Florida law. Gideon appeared in court without funds and without a lawyer, and asked the court to appoint counsel for him. However, the Court told Gideon that counsel could only be appointed to represent a defendant charged with a capital offense.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: At jury trial, Gideon (Petitioner) conducted his own defense (i.e., self-represented litigation). However, the jury returned a verdict of guilty, and sentenced Gideon to serve five years in the state prison. Gideon filed a habeas corpus petition in the Florida Supreme Court. In the petition, Gideon argued the trial court’s refusal to appoint counsel denied him rights ‘guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights by the United States Government.’ The State Supreme Court denied all relief.

JUDGMENT: Reversed.

ISSUE: Whether the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel in criminal cases applies to felony defendants in state courts.

HOLDING OF THE COURT: The Court concluded that Betts v. Brady should be overruled. The Court further held that certain fundamental rights, safeguarded by the first eight amendments against federal action, are safeguarded against state action by the due process of law clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. One of those is the fundamental right of the accused to be assisted by counsel in a criminal prosecution.

RATIONALE: If the holding in Betts were left standing, it would require the Court to reject Gideon’s claim that the Constitution guarantees him the assistance of counsel. The Court stated any person hauled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him. It further reasoned that State and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to assure fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law. At this point, the Court looked to the Sixth Amendment, which provides ‘In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.’ The Court also looked to the Bill of Rights. There, the Court found that it contains fundamental safeguards of liberty that immune citizens from federal abridgment. In the Court’s view, citizens are equally protected against state invasion by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

SEPARATE OPINION: (Harlan, J) In Justice Harlan’s opinion, the declaration that the right to appointed counsel in state prosecutions, as established in Powell v. Alabama, was not limited to capital cases an extension of the Court’s precedent. While Justice Harlan did not embrace the concept that the Fourteenth Amendment ‘incorporates’ the Sixth Amendment, he did assert that a valid right or immunity against the Federal Government is valid against the States. In all, Justice Harlan believed the Court did not depart from the principles laid down in Palko v. Connecticut.

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