April 21, 2014
On February 25, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in in Walden v. Fiore. This case involves a dispute over personal jurisdiction. For a court to validly adjudicate a dispute, it must possess jurisdiction over the parties before it. Here the question is whether due process permits a federal court in Nevada to exercise personal jurisdiction over a law enforcement defendant in Atlanta, Georgia regarding an allegedly improper seizure of the plaintiffs’ gambling winnings that took place in transit at Atlanta’s airport. In addition, there is a question of whether Nevada is a proper venue to adjudicate the parties’ dispute under the terms of an applicable federal statute.
In a unanimous decision delivered by Justice Thomas, the Court held that the United States District Court for the District of Nevada lacked personal jurisdiction over the petitioner. Given the lack of jurisdiction, the Court did not reach the venue issue. The decision of the Ninth Circuit was reversed.
To discuss the case, we have Paul Stancil, who is a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law.