Conflict of Laws

Alfred Hill

I just found out that Alfred Hill, a professor of law at Columbia, died a few months ago. My initial exposure to Hill’s work on Erie was curious. In looking at current articles on the topic, I kept seeing citations to articles Hill wrote in the 1950s: State Procedural Law in Federal Nondiversity Litigation and The Erie Doctrine in Bankruptcy, both published in the Harvard Law Review, and a two-part article in the Northwestern University Law Review called The Erie Doctrine and the Constitution.  Citation to half-century-old articles is very unusual in legal scholarship. When I took a look at them, I found out why they were so popular. They were masterful — written with a clarity and insight that made them still useful today. Indeed, I still often find that a Hill article is the only one that discusses a problem I am interested in. I then discovered that Hill, who I had assumed died decades before, was still alive. A number of times I considered emailing him to let him know how much I thought of his work. I never did and now, I’m sorry to hear, it is too late.

New Paper on SSRN

Just posted a new paper on SSRN. I argue for the following limit on states' power to regulate the procedure of federal courts: Their power cannot be vertical. They cannot direct their law solely to federal courts within their borders. This may not seem that significant, but it is surprising how often law professors and federal judges have assumed that vertical power exists. They're wrong.

Unprovided-For Cases

I thought I would say a bit more about my (partial) critique of Larry Kramer’s solution to the problem of unprovided-for cases, which I discussed in class. An unprovided-for case is one in which it looks as if neither state is interested in its law applying. An example is Neumeier. An Ontarioan, who was a guest in a New Yorker’s car, sues the New Yorker in New York state court for negligence in connection with an accident in Ontario.  Ontario has a guest statute, which bars a guest from suing a host for negligence. New York doesn’t.

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Georgia's Swiftian Common Law?

In his article defending Erie, Ernest Young questions my conclusion (in Erie’s Suppressed Premise) that Georgia is still committed to a Swiftian view of the common law.  Since I spoke about Georgia’s Swiftian approach in class in Conflicts, this also is an opportunity say a bit more about the topic for my students.

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