Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sprint Communications, Inc. v. Jacobs, Docket 12-815

Jurisdiction: federal jurisdiction when there is a parallel, pending state proceeding: the District Court had jurisdiction to decide whether federal law preempted the IUB’s decision, see Verizon Md. Inc. v. Public Serv. Comm’n of Md., 535 U. S. 635, 642, and thus had a “virtually unflagging obligation” to hear and decide the case, Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U. S. 800, 817. In Younger, this Court recognized an exception to that obligation for cases in which there is a parallel, pending state criminal proceeding. This Court has extended Younger abstention to particular state civil proceedings that are akin to criminal prosecutions, see Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd., 420 U. S. 592, or that implicate a State’s interest in en­forcing the orders and judgments of its courts, see Pennzoil Co. v. Texaco Inc., 481 U. S. 1, but has reaffirmed that “only exceptional cir­cumstances justify a federal court’s refusal to decide a case in defer­ence to the States,” New Orleans Public Service, Inc. v. Council of City of New Orleans, 491 U. S. 350, 368 (NOPSI). NOPSI identified three such “exceptional circumstances.” First, Younger precludes federal intrusion into ongoing state criminal prosecutions. See 491 U. S., at 368. Second, certain “civil enforcement proceedings” war­rant Younger abstention. Ibid. Finally, federal courts should refrain from interfering with pending “civil proceedings involving certain or­ders . . . uniquely in furtherance of the state courts’ ability to perform their judicial functions.” Ibid. This Court has not applied Younger outside these three “exceptional” categories, and rules, in accord with NOPSI, that they define Younger’s scope (U.S.S.Ct.,10.12.2013, Sprint Communications, Inc. v. Jacobs, Docket 12-815, J. Ginsburg, unanimous).

Dans les cas où la compétence d’une cour fédérale de district est donnée, cette cour doit se saisir de l’affaire. Qu’en est-il si une procédure identique est déjà pendante devant une cour d’un état ? Ce n’est que dans trois circonstances exceptionnelles que la cour fédérale peut refuser l’affaire : premièrement, s’il s’agit d’une procédure pénale en cours devant la juridiction étatique ; deuxièmement, s’il s’agit de procédures civiles étatiques d’une nature proche d’un procès pénal ; troisièmement, dans les cas où l’état a un intérêt particulier à voir reconnu et exécuté ses décisions de justice.

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