Suing God (or Satan)
A few years back, someone sent me the following article about someone suing God.
He asked what the proper forum would be.
In the news article the suit was brought in Nebraska state court (which is a court of general subject matter jurisdiction). But how about a suit in federal court? Federal question? Unlikely. Didn't look like he was suing under federal law. Diversity or alienage jurisdiction? I don't think so (God is not a citizen of a State nor is he a citizen or subject of a foreign state). The suit would probably have to be in state court.
By the way, there was a case in which someone sued Satan in federal court. Mayo v. Satan and his Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D. Pa. 1971). (The opinion is a denial of an application to proceed in forma pauperis.) Federal subject matter jurisdiction in this case was federal question, since Satan was being sued under 42 USC 1983 for violation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights. One problem noted by the court was service, although I suppose you could ask it to approve service by publication. (Or is service unnecesssary because Satan is omniscient...?)
What about PJ over God in Nebraska? The state senator suggested that God, being omnipresent, would be subject to the power of a Nebraska state court. It is good that the senator appealed to a theory that would give the court general PJ. It needs general PJ, because the suit is (at least in part) about stuff God did outside Nebraska. Specific PJ would not work.
The scenario brings up the interesting issue of whether there can be general in personam jurisdiction, on the basis of the defendant's presence within the state at the initiation of the suit, when there is not actually service on the defendant in the state. We know from Milliken that there can be general in personam personal jurisdiction over a defendant who is domiciled in a state even if there is no service in the state, but I don't think the senator is claiming that God is domiciled in Nebraska. He is just present there.
If one looks for guidance in the language of § 78 of First Restatement of Conflicts, presence in the state at the beginning of the suit, without service in the state, would apparently be enough: “A state can exercise through its courts jurisdiction over an individual voluntarily within its territory whether he is permanently or only temporarily there.” And indeed, in hand service of the summons and complaint on the defendant in the forum state has been held to be unnecessary provided that the defendant is present in the state at the beginning of the suit. The cases that say this are those where there was some sort of substituted service (such as publication) and the defendant was present in the forum state at the time of the substituted service. So maybe the senator is right about PJ, although there remains the problem of providing service.