erie doctrine

Cliff notes of this Erie Doctrine flow chart: Federal courts hearing a state law case because the parties are from different states have to use substantive state law but can use federal procedural law.

And how do you tell if a law is procedural? Well, you follow this handy-dandy flow chart, which is mostly useful, except for one part.

To quote the justices in Hanna v. Plumer, to tell if a law is procedural, you must ask the question, “Does the law *really* regulate procedure?”

I mean COME ON. What kind of guidance is that? I would love to hear those oral arguments: “Your honor, this statute is procedural because it really regulates procedure. Really really really really regulates procedure. Promise.”

Understanding the Erie Doctrine
  • Identify if there is a legitimate conflict
  • Identify if the conflicting rules govern clearly substantive law
  • Identify if it is already covered by the Federal Rules of Procedure
  • Cut open a virgin white goat on the steps of the court house
  • Read the patterns in its blood for the appropriate date to cast the bones
  • Cast the bones on that date
  • Get answer