Civil Procedure MBE Tip of the Day
Welcome to our MBE tip of the day series. This “MBE tip of the day” post focuses on civil procedure.
You will see 25 scored civil procedure MBE questions on the Multistate Bar Exam. In this post, we will review a civil procedure question together. Note that we have posted several MBE tips (which you can find links to at the bottom of this post) that focus on a specific multiple-choice question that many students answer incorrectly. If you can master these questions, it could increase your MBE score by that many points if you see any of these issues tested again (which, by the way, you will!). These posts of MBE tips and tricks will not only cover substantive law but also strategy. So each “MBE tip of the day” post covers one highly-tested area of substantive law as well as an important MBE strategy. You can sign up to receive these posts directly to your inbox for the upcoming administration at the bottom of this page.
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MBE Tip of the Day Instructions:
Do your best to answer this civil procedure MBE question (before even looking at the answer choices and before looking at the answer below!) Ask yourself: What is the subject? What is the legal issue? What are the rule, analysis, and conclusion? Try to answer these beginning questions before even reading the answer choices. Then, uncover the answer as well as read more about our MBE tip of the day.
Show the MBE Question...
Civil Procedure MBE Question
A woman sued a man in federal court in State A, arguing that the man assaulted her. Both the man and the woman are residents of State A. Before filing the complaint, the woman approached the man about her desire to file the case in federal court because of the convenient location for both parties and all of the witnesses. The man consented to the use of this court in writing, and the woman filed her complaint. In response to the complaint, the man filed an answer denying all of the claims, and the case went to trial.
The jury issued a verdict in favor of the woman, and judgment was entered accordingly. A little over a year later, an attorney friend of the man indicated that he might be able to get out of the judgment on subject matter jurisdiction grounds. Having represented himself with little knowledge of procedural details, the man decided it was worth a shot. He then filed a motion for relief from judgment for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Should the court grant the motion?
(A) Yes, as long as the court finds the man filed the motion within a reasonable time.
(B) No, because this issue needed to be raised in an appeal as opposed to in a motion for relief from judgment.
(C) No, because the man did not file the motion within one year of judgment being entered.
(D) No, because the man consented to the federal court’s jurisdiction in writing.
Legal Rule and Analysis:
Choose an answer choice that most closely matches your conclusion and explain why the others are incorrect:
Show the Answer to the MBE Question...
Answer to the Civil Procedure MBE Question
Subject: Civil Procedure
Legal Issue: Motion for relief from judgment
Legal Rule and Analysis: One justification for granting a motion for relief from judgment is if the judgment is void. Any judgment will be void if the court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the case. Further, one cannot consent to subject matter jurisdiction if it does not exist. A motion for relief from judgment for the reason of a void judgment must be filed within a “reasonable time.”
In this case, federal subject matter jurisdiction did not exist. There was no federal question, no complete diversity, and no other claim that could allow for supplemental jurisdiction. Thus, the federal court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the case. The man’s agreement to litigating in federal court does not matter as one cannot consent to subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, the judgment is void.
Conclusion: As long as the court finds that the man filed the motion within a reasonable time, the motion should be granted as the judgment is void.
Look at the answer choices provided. Choose an answer choice that matches your conclusion. Review the other answer choices provided.
The answer choice (A) is therefore correct. (B) is incorrect as it is perfectly valid for a party to raise lack of subject matter jurisdiction as a reason that a judgment is void and argue that the party is entitled to relief from the judgment. This issue does not have to be raised on appeal. (C) is incorrect because the one-year time requirement does not apply to motions for relief from judgment on the basis of a void judgment. This rationale only requires that the motion be filed within a reasonable time. (D) is incorrect because a party cannot consent to subject matter jurisdiction.
MBE Tip: Apply the rules, not your feelings. It is very easy to get caught up in the fact that the man signed something agreeing to litigate in federal court. But is that supported by the rules? No, because one cannot consent to subject matter jurisdiction. It is one thing to trust your gut and your first instinct when answering questions. But make sure that your instincts are using your knowledge of the rules as a foundation. Trust in the vast amount of studying that you have put in, and don’t let your emotions pull you in another direction. Be clinical in your application of the rules and have blinders to everything else.
Show Summary of the Two Key Takeaway Points for the Day
Key Takeaways and MBE Tips From Prior Posts
Takeaway for the Law: A judgment is void if it was issued by a court that didn’t have subject matter jurisdiction. A corresponding motion for relief from judgment should be granted if it was filed within a reasonable time.
MBE Tip: Apply the rules clinically and put on blinders to your emotions
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If you are looking for MBE help, read our 10 expert MBE tips here. Check out our step-by-step guide to improving your MBE score, please review this post for an overview of tips. If you would like to have the next MBE tip emailed to you when we come out with another one, please fill out the form below.
MBE Tip of the Day
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