Letters Blogatory

The Blog of International Judicial Assistance | By Ted Folkman of Folkman LLC

Columbus landing in America
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Scandal of the Day: Washington, DC Sewer Service

Posted on October 12, 2020

Josh Kaplan of DCist published a major exposé on fraudulent service of process in Washington DC, leading to many tenants being evicted without ever having been served with process. The problem arises when private process servers, who are paid by the job, submit false affidavits. Kaplan was able to show that affidavits were false by showing that the servers had claimed to be in two places at once, or had claimed to travel impossibly quickly. The story is very well done—you should read it. I think the malefactors should be charged with a crime, and lawyers who were in a position to see that the servers were lying should be subject to discipline.

What lessons can we, as lawyers concerned with service of process, draw from this scandal?

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Case of the Day: Servotronics v. Rolls-Royce

Posted on October 6, 2020

The case of the day is Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC (7th Cir. 2020). I wrote about a related Fourth Circuit case earlier this year. The case deepens the circuit split on whether Section 1782 reaches private foreign arbitrations. The Fourth and Sixth Circuits have recently said “yes.” The Second and Fifth Circuits had said “no.” Now the Seventh Circuit has taken the Second Circuit view, setting up a very strong candidate for Supreme Court review (assuming the arbitration will still be pending a year from now).

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Supreme Court Update

Posted on October 5, 2020

Today is the first day of the Supreme Court’s October 2020 term. Unfortunately, the Court denied my petition for cert. in the Changzhou SinoType case. Of course, “petition denied” is always the statistically likely outcome, but I felt that we gave this as good a shot as we could, and I and others more knowledgeable about SCOTUS than I thought that the petition had a reasonable chance of success. I am grateful to the amici who weighed in on my client’s side, and to their counsel. I will be on the lookout for another case presenting this issue (and of course, if you know of one, please let me know!)

On the brighter side, the Court denied the petition in New England Teamsters & Trucking Industry Pension Fund v. Sun Capital Partners III, LP, an important multi-employer pension plan ERISA case where I was counsel (not counsel of record) to the respondent.

There is a pending petition that I want to call to your attention: World Programming Ltd. v. SAS Institute. According to the petition, in order to incentivize a judgment debtor to pay a US judgment, the lower courts enjoined it from selling software for use in the US until the judgment is paid. The asserted source of the court’s authority was the All Writs Act. The question is whether you can use the All Writs Act in this way, or whether a judgment creditor is limited to the methods provided by FRCP 69, viz., a writ of execution or other means of enforcement prescribed by the relevant state law, to enforce a judgment. My preliminary view is that the petitioner is right on the merits. the Act isn’t just a license to make whatever orders the court thinks best. It’s a residual source of authority to protect the court’s jurisdiction. I think that in equity, if a party was in contempt of an injunction, a court would have authority to compel compliance by all kinds of creative means. But a money judgment at common law is just a declaration that party A owes a certain amount of money to party B, and it’s enforced primarily by a writ of execution or other established writs and procedures. “The forms of action may be dead, but they rule us from their graves.” Anyway, this is one to keep your eyes on.