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Form of Judgment

To be reviewable by the United States Supreme Court under 28 USCS § 1257(a), state court judgment must be final.  Finality is determined by the fact that the judgment is subject to no further review or correction in any other state tribunal.[i]  The requisites of a final judgment are not to be determined by what a state court may deem to be a judgment in the exercise of its jurisdiction.[ii]

The Supreme Court cannot resort to state law for purposes of converting a judgment into a final judgment. [iii]  The fact that a judgment is not in the form of a command is immaterial during the determination of finality of the state court judgment.[iv]  The basic requirement is that the highest court of a state come to a decision which establishes legal rights and relationships and once such highest state court has determined a matter, no formal order of the court is required.

The fact that appeals from interlocutory judgments have been authorized by state legislatures and Congress, does not grant interlocutory judgments of state court finality.  This is true even if the Supreme Court might have inadvertently granted certiorari.  Thus, in order to be reviewable by United States Supreme Court, state court judgment must be final in the sense that judgment is effective determination of litigation.  Mere interlocutory or intermediate determination of issues is not sufficient in this regard.[v]

[i] Jefferson v. City of Tarrant, 522 U.S. 75 (U.S. 1997)

[ii] Burns v. Ohio, 360 U.S. 252, 260 (U.S. 1959)

[iii] Louisiana Navigation Co. v. Oyster Com. of Louisiana, 226 U.S. 99 (U.S. 1912)

[iv] La Crosse Tel. Corp. v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Bd., 336 U.S. 18 (U.S. 1949)

[v] Jefferson v. City of Tarrant, 522 U.S. 75 (U.S. 1997)

Inside Form of Judgment