Friday, December 30, 2005

Interesting Erie Doctrine Article Made Available on Westlaw

An article entitled A Formstone Of Our Federalism": The Erie/Hanna Doctrine & Casebook Law Reform, authored by Robert Condlin and published in the July 2005 issue of the University of Miami Law Review has just become available on Westlaw. Here's a brief excerpt from the Introduction:

Law students learn one or another casebook version of Erie/Hanna, since casebooks are one of a student's primary sources of information about the doctrinal universe. When the students become law clerks, as ultimately some must, they draft Erie/Hanna opinions based on their slightly-off-track versions of the doctrine because these are the only versions they know. The principal consequence of this exercise in what one might think of as "casebook law reform," is a major doctrinal disconnect between the upper and lower branches of the federal judicial system, with the Supreme Court on one page (pretty much), and the lower federal courts on several others. As if playing an extended telephone game, the lower federal courts report back a different version of the Erie/Hanna doctrine than the one sent out by the Supreme Court. . . .

In this article I examine this episode of casebook law reform to determine how and why it occurs, and whether anything can or should be done about it. For the most part I do not discuss the wisdom of the Erie/Hanna doctrine itself. That ground has been plowed, almost to exhaustion, by many excellent commentators and I have little, if any, new growth to tease from those well-worn furrows. Instead, I examine the way in which the casebook authors codify the Erie/Hanna doctrine, so to speak, for study by law professors and students, in order to suggest ways in which the efforts of courts and authors could be better coordinated. I do not doubt that what I say about Erie/Hanna also could be said about other complicated statutory and constitutional doctrines.

The citation for the article is 59 U. Miami L. Rev. 475 (2005).


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