Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Justice Moody Reprise!

I previously called attention to the sparkling career of the generally unknown Justice Moody. Today I am teaching the absolutely classic case of Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Mottley to my Federal Courts class. Every lawyer knows this case -- it's the usual cite for the "well-pleaded complaint" rule that governs federal question jurisdiction in federal court. And who wrote the opinion? I'd never noticed before, but it was Justice Moody! Now I feel like he's an old friend.

By the way, none other than Eugene Volokh pointed out to me that my previous post on Justice Moody suggested that he prosecuted the Lizzie Borden case, which was prosecuted in state court, while he was a U.S. Attorney. This shows the danger of relying on Internet sources. I did a little more research and discovered some conflict of authority as to whether Moody was a state or federal prosecutor at the time. The fact that he worked on the Borden case is not dispositive, because he was specially appointed by the Massachusetts Attorney General to do so. But the best I can tell is that he was a state prosecutor, and that the special appointment was necessary because the case wasn't in Moody's normal geographic jurisdiction.

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