In a pair of noteworthy articles last Friday, the University of Pittsburgh Law School’s Jurist Paper Chase comments that “around this time of year, many newspapers publish articles listing the laws that take effect on January 1, but that it's unlikely that any of them took note of a new federal law taking effect on January 6, 2012.
“For litigators in state as well as federal courts, though, it is an important date, because it’s when the Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act of 2011 (JVCA), Public Law No. 112-63, takes effect.
“According to the House Judiciary Committee Report [text, PDF],” Jurist reports, “the purpose of the law is to clarify federal jurisdiction statutes to avoid wasting judicial resources, with the core of JVCA's changes addressing jurisdiction and procedure for removal of state court claims to federal court. Among those changes, the JVCA states that inclusion of unrelated state claims does not prevent removal that is otherwise appropriate under federal question jurisdiction, and it adopts a "preponderance of the evidence" standard for determining the amount in controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction. The JVCA also codified the judicially-created "rule of unanimity," which states that all defendants who have been properly joined and served to the action must consent to the removal of the action to federal court.” [ Article ]
Forum guest columnist Arthur Hellman of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law writes an accompanying piece professing that JVCA “significantly clarifies the law of federal court jurisdiction and venue but was passed after removing some beneficial but controversial provisions...”