In this clip, we look at the first step of
the analysis: the statutory sources of in personam jurisdiction.
Every state can pass statutes detailing the situations in which its courts will exercise
personal jurisdiction. When a court exercises personal jurisdiction,
it must do so pursuant to an explicit grant of authority in a state statute or else that
court may not exercise personal jurisdiction. Generally speaking, there are five common
statutory sources for in personam jurisdiction: (1) physical presence in the forum state at
the time the defendant is served with process; (2) domicile; (3) consent; (4) waiver; and
(5) long-arm statutes. Firstly, every state has personal jurisdiction
over persons within its territory. That means that if the defendant is present
in the forum state when served with process, then he will be subject to personal jurisdiction
in that state regardless of whether the defendant is a resident of that state or not.
Nor does it matter how long the defendant had been or intended to be in the state when
he was served with process. In Burnham v. Superior Court of California,
495 U.S. 604 (1990), the Supreme Court held that a court can exercise jurisdiction over
a defendant even if that defendant is only in the state for a short period of time.
Secondly, a defendant is subject to the personal jurisdiction of his home state.
For individuals, “Home state” may be defined by residence, citizenship and domicile, even
if the defendant is absent from the state at the time of the suit. For corporations,
“home state” means the state of incorporation or where the corporation conducts its principal
operations. Third, a defendant may consent to a court’s
personal jurisdiction by voluntarily appearing in the forum state’s court and submitting
himself to jurisdiction. Consent can be express, such as through a
forum-selection clause in a contract or appointment of an agent.
Consent can also be implied. In Hess v. Pawloski, 274 U.S. 352 (1927),
the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional a Massachusetts statute stating that a non-resident
motorist driving in Massachusetts implicitly consented to personal jurisdiction there.
In addition to consent, a defendant may waive his challenge to personal jurisdiction.
Waiver occurs where the defendant acts in a way that is inconsistent with his argument
that the forum lacks a basis for asserting personal jurisdiction over him.
This might occur where the defendant conducts discovery or attends and observes proceedings
without waiving her objection. Another way that a court may exercise personal
jurisdiction over a defendant is where the defendant’s conduct is within the scope of
the forum state’s long-arm statute. After the Supreme Court’s decision in International
Shoe, which outlined the various criteria that should be examined in determining whether
jurisdiction over a nonresident is proper, states began to pass laws detailing their
own requirements for personal jurisdiction over nonresidents.
These laws became known as long-arm statutes. A long-arm statute is a state law allowing
the state’s courts to exercise jurisdiction over out-of-state or nonresident defendants.
Today, every state has a long-arm statute. Long-arm statutes come in two different flavors:
limited (or enumerated) and unlimited (or unenumerated).
New York’s long-arm statute, for example, limits personal jurisdiction over out-of-state
defendants to specific circumstances, such as where the defendant has real property within
the state; regularly does business with the state; or commits a tort within the state.
This would be called an enumerated or limited long-arm statute.
In contrast, California’s long-arm statute states simply that “[a] court of this state
may exercise jurisdiction on any basis not inconsistent with the Constitution of this
state or of the United States.” This is an example of an unlimited long-arm
statute. If you encounter a test question with a long-arm
statute, first you should decide whether the long-arm statute with which you are confronted
is limited or unlimited. If the long-arm statute is limited, then look
first to see whether your particular defendant falls into one of the enumerated categories.
If none of the categories apply, then the court may not hear the case. If the long-arm
statute permits the constitutional maximum, then simply skip straight to analyzing whether
it would be constitutional to exercise personal jurisdiction over this particular defendant.
Always remember that long-arm statutes still must comply with due process protections under
the Fourteenth Amendment. If the Constitution does not allow for jurisdiction,
then the long-arm statute is irrelevant. It might help to think of the Due Process
Clause as a circle. The circle represents the permissible scope of a court’s jurisdiction
over a defendant. Anything outside of the circle would be unconstitutional.
California’s long-arm statute seeks to capture everything in the circle.
New York’s long-arm statute, by contrast, simply carves out certain areas of the circle.
New York has chosen not to exercise personal jurisdiction over certain defendants even
though it would be constitutionally permissible for it do so.
Pretend that New York provides in its long-arm statute that a New York state court may exercise
personal jurisdiction over any out-of-state defendant who makes a single purchase in New
York. We know from the Supreme Court’s decision
in Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S. A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408 (1984), that mere
purchases in a forum state without more is not sufficient to sustain a finding of minimum
contacts. Therefore, this part of New York’s long-arm
statute is outside of the limits of the Due Process Clause. Or in other words, it’s outside
of the circle. Remember that just because a state’s long-arm
statute asserts personal jurisdiction doesn’t mean that it would constitutional to do so
under the Due Process Clause. It’s critically important to understand that distinction.
So to recap, there are a number of statutory sources for personal jurisdiction over a defendant:
(1) presence in the forum state when served with process; (2) consent through a forum-selection
clause; (3) consent through the appointment of an agent; (4) consent through conduct in
litigation; (5) non-resident motorist statutes; (6) residence, citizenship, or domicile in
the forum state; (7) in the case of corporations, state of incorporation or principal place
of business; (8) ownership of property in the forum state, provided that the property
is the subject of the lawsuit; and (9) long-arm statutes.
Now that we know the statutory requirements for personal jurisdiction, let’s take a brief
quiz to test your understanding of these concepts.