Jurisdiction in rem

Jurisdiction in rem

Jurisdiction "in rem" (Latin, "power about or against "the thing") is a legal term describing the power a court may exercise over property (either real or personal) or a "status" against a person over whom the court does not have "in personam jurisdiction". Jurisdiction in rem assumes the property or status is the primary object of the action, rather than personal liabilities not necessarily associated with the property ("quasi in rem jurisdiction").

Within the US federal court system, jurisdiction in rem typically refers to the power a federal court may exercise over large items of moveable property, or real property, located within the court's jurisdiction. The most frequent circumstance in which this occurs in the Anglo-American legal system is when a suit is brought in admiralty law against a vessel to satisfy debts arising from the operation or use of the vessel. However, it can involve other things, such as Margaret Sanger's Japanese pessaries in "United States v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries", an important case in United States reproductive and obscenity law. Another example of jurisdiction in rem was the "United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola".

Within the US state court system, jurisdiction in rem may refer to the power the state court may exercise over real property or personal property or a person's marital status. State courts have the power to determine legal ownership of any real or personal property within the state's boundaries.

A right "in rem" or a judgment "in rem" binds the world as opposed to rights and judgments "inter partes" which only bind those involved in their creation.

Originally, the notion of "in rem" jurisdiction arose in situations in which property was identified but the owner was unknown. Courts fell into the practice of styling a case not as "John Doe, Unknown owner of (Property)", but as just "Ex Parte (property)" or perhaps the awkward "State v. (Property)", usually followed by a notice by publication seeking claimants to title to the property. This last style is awkward because in law, only a person may be a party to a judicial proceeding, and a non-person would at least have to have a guardian appointed to represent its interests, or the interests of the unknown owner.

The use of this kind of jurisdiction in asset forfeiture cases is troublesome because it has been increasingly used in situations where the party in possession is known, which by historical common law standards would make him the presumptive owner, and yet the prosecution and court presumes he is not the owner and proceeds accordingly. This kind of process has been used to seize large sums of cash from persons who are presumed to have obtained the money unlawfully because of the large amount, often in situations where the person could prove he was in lawful possession of it, but was forced to spend more on legal fees to do so than the amount of money forfeited.Fact|date=December 2007

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • jurisdiction in rem — see jurisdiction Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • jurisdiction in rem — Jurisdiction over a res or thing situated in the state, which may be property or a status or relation. Hamm v Hamm, 30 Tenn App 122, 204 SW2d 113, 175 ALR 523. That jurisdiction of the property in contest in an action which is obtained by a… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • jurisdiction in rem — Power of a court over a thing so that its judgment is valid as against the rights of every person in the thing, e.g. a judgment or decree of registration of title to land. See also in rem jurisdiction quasi in rem …   Black's law dictionary

  • jurisdiction — ju·ris·dic·tion /ˌju̇r əs dik shən/ n [Latin jurisdictio, from juris, genitive of jus law + dictio act of saying, from dicere to say] 1: the power, right, or authority to interpret, apply, and declare the law (as by rendering a decision) to be… …   Law dictionary

  • jurisdiction — A term of comprehensive import embracing every kind of judicial action. Federal Land Bank of Louisville, Ky. v. Crombie, 258 Ky. 383, 80 S.W.2d 39, 40. It is the power of the court to decide a matter in controversy and presupposes the existence… …   Black's law dictionary

  • Jurisdiction — In law, jurisdiction (from the Latin ius, iuris meaning law and dicere meaning to speak ) is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and,… …   Wikipedia

  • jurisdiction quasi in rem — The power of a court over the defendant s interest in property, real or personal, within the geographical limits of the court. The court s judgment or decree binds only the defendant s interest and not the whole world as in the case of… …   Black's law dictionary

  • jurisdiction of the res — See jurisdiction in rem …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • jurisdiction quasi in rem — Jurisdiction neither strictly in personam nor strictly in rem; an action in personam where a thing or res is indirectly affected by the decision. Hanson v Denekla, 357 US 235, 2 L Ed 1283, 78 S Ct 1228, reh den 358 US 858, 3 L Ed 2d 92, 79 S Ct… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • Quasi in rem jurisdiction — Quasi in rem (Latin, as if against a thing ) is a legal term referring to a legal action based on property rights of a person absent from the jurisdiction.A quasi in rem action is commonly used when jurisdiction over the defendant is unobtainable …   Wikipedia

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