2007年4月20日 星期五

One of my favorite opinions

This is probably interesting only to law students. It's a very popular case, often used in legal writing class for case search assignment. I try to translate some key terms to make the reading easier. It is also good English writing. To those who are not familiar with US jury system, the Texas jury is known to be very friendly and generous to plaintiffs (德州陪審團判賠給原告是有名的大方).

Republic of Bolivia v. Philip Morris Co., Inc.
Civil Action No. G-99-110 (March 1, 1999)(Kent, J.).
39 F. Supp. 2d 1008 (D. Tex. 1999)

Plaintiff, the Republic of Bolivia, brings this action to recover from numerous tobacco companies various health care costs it allegedly incurred in treating illnesses its residents suffered as a result of tobacco use (玻利維亞共和國控告美國煙草公司並索賠). This action was originally filed in the District Court of Brazoria County, Texas, 239th Judicial District, and removed to this Court on February 19, 1999, by certain Defendants alleging jurisdiction under .... (原告原本在德州的Brazoria郡提告,後來因種種理由移至本庭). For the following reasons, the Court exercises its authority and discretion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1404(a) to sua sponte transfer this case to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (本庭基於以下理由將本案轉交DC法院處理(也就是我現在唸書的地方)).

This is one of at least six similar actions brought by foreign governments in various courts throughout the United States. The governments of Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Thailand, Venezuela, and Bolivia have filed suit in the geographically diverse locales of Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, in both state and federal courts (至少六個國家在美國不同地方對煙草公司提告). Why none of these countries seems to have a court system their own governments have confidence in is a mystery to this Court. 

Moreover, given the tremendous number of United States jurisdictions encompassing fascinating and exotic places, the Court can hardly imagine why the Republic of Bolivia elected to file suit in the veritable hinterlands of Brazoria County, Texas (Brazoria郡鳥不生蛋). The Court seriously doubts whether Brazoria County has ever seen a live Bolivian … even on the Discovery Channel. Though only here by removal, this humble Court by the sea is certainly flattered by what must be the worldwide renown of rural Texas courts for dispensing justice with unparalleled fairness and alacrity, apparently in common discussion even on the mountain peaks of Bolivia! Still, the Court would be remiss in accepting an obligation for which it truly does not have the necessary resources. Only one judge presides in the Galveston Division (也就是Kent法官大人)–which currently has before it over seven hundred cases and annual civil filings exceeding such number–and that judge is presently burdened with a significant personal situation which diminishes its ability to always give the attention it would like to all of its daunting docket obligations, despite genuinely heroic efforts to do so. And, while Galveston is indeed an international seaport (雖然本庭所在地也算是一個國際港), the capacity of this Court to address the complex and sophisticated issues of international law and foreign relations presented by this case is dwarfed by that of its esteemed colleagues in the District of Columbia who deftly address such awesome tasks as a matter of course.

Indeed, this Court, while doing its very best to address the more prosaic matters routinely before it, cannot think of a Bench (法院) better versed and more capable of handling precisely this type of case, which requires a high level of expertise in international matters. In fact, proceedings brought by the Republic of Guatemala are currently well underway in that Court in a related action, and there is a request now before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to transfer to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia all six tobacco actions brought by foreign governments, ostensibly for consolidated treatment (波利維亞在DC另有一個案子進行中。同時長官要求把這六個案子集中起來). Such a Bench, well-populated with genuinely renowned intellects, can certainly better bear and share the burden of multidistrict litigation than this single judge division, where the judge moves his lips when he reads….

Regardless of, and having nothing to do with, the outcome of Defendants’ request for transfer and consolidation, it is the Court’s opinion that the District of Columbia, located in this Nation’s capital, is a much more logical venue (管道) for the parties and witnesses in this action because, among other things, Plaintiff has an embassy in Washington, D.C., and thus a physical presence and governmental representatives there, whereas there isn’t even a Bolivian restaurant anywhere near here! Although the jurisdiction of this Court boasts no similar foreign offices, a somewhat dated globe(地 球儀) is within its possession. While the Court does not therefrom profess to understand all of the political subtleties of the geographical transmogrifications ongoing in Eastern Europe, the Court is virtually certain that Bolivia is not within the four counties over which this Court presides, even though the words Bolivia and Brazoria are a lot alike and caused some real, initial confusion until the Court(法官) conferred (諮詢) with its law clerks (助理). 

Thus, it is readily apparent, even from an outdated globe such as that possessed by this Court, that Bolivia, a hemisphere away, ain’t in south-central Texas, and that, at the very least, the District of Columbia is a more appropriate venue (though Bolivia isn’t located there either). Furthermore, as this Judicial District bears no significant relationship to any of the matters at issue, and the judge of this Court simply loves cigars, the Plaintiff can be expected to suffer neither harm nor prejudice by a transfer to Washington, D.C., a Bench better able to rise to the smoky challenges presented by this case, despite the alleged and historic presence there of countless "smoke-filled" rooms (DC有許多"菸室",也就是密室政治的地方). Consequently, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1404(a), for the convenience of parties and witnesses, and in the interest of justice, this case is hereby transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (案子還是轉到DC去吧).