Case Analysis

Case analysis is the documentation of a specific study either a real life situation or an imagined one. They are used as training tools in law schools and business schools where the students are required to analyse specific situations and document their interpretations which should be accompanied with proper reasoning and assumption making. This prepares them on how to handle the real life situations once they have finished their training. The case analysis in question was between two parties; William Jefferson Clinton versus Paula Corbin Jones Case 5-1 held at the Supreme Court of the United States 520 U.S. 681 (1997).

Plaintiff Paula Jones filed a civil action against defendant (sitting) President Bill Clinton, alleging that he made “abhorrent” sexual advances. She sought $75,000 in actual damages and $100,000 in punitive damages (Clinton v. Jones, 1998). Defendant Clinton sought to dismiss the claim on the ground of presidential immunity, or, alternatively, to delay the proceedings until his term of office had expired. The case was first heard at the district court which denied the motion to dismiss and ordered discovery to proceed, but it also ordered that the trial be stayed until the end of Clinton’s term. The case was also heard at the court of appeals which affirmed the denial of the motion to dismiss and reversed the stay of the trial. It was after this ruling that President Clinton appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The fact that the defendant President Clinton was in office at the time, they hoped that the constitution could afford the President temporary immunity from civil damages litigation arising out of events that occurred before he took office however this could not be sustained on the basis of precedent. It was from this that the President argued for a postponement of the judicial proceedings that would determine whether he violated any law. His argument was grounded in the character of the office that was created by Article II of the Constitution and relied on separation-of-powers principles (Clinton v. Jones, 1998). The principal rationale for affording certain public servants immunity from suits for money damages arising out of their official acts is inapplicable to unofficial conduct. In cases involving prosecutors, legislators, and judges we have repeatedly explained that the immunity serves the public interest in enabling such officials to perform their designated functions effectively without fear that a particular decision may give rise to personal liability.

As a starting premise, petitioner contends that he occupies a unique office with powers and responsibilities so vast and important that the public interest demands that he devote his undivided time and attention to his public duties. He submits that the doctrine of separation of powers places limits on the authority of the Federal Judiciary to interfere with the Executive Branch that would be transgressed by allowing this action to proceed (Clinton v. Jones, 1998). It is important to note that neither the doctrine of separation of powers, nor the need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances. This also settled that the President is subject to judicial process in appropriate circumstances.

Torts are classified as intentional, negligent, or strict liability, depending on the degree of wilfulness required for the tort. According to Bakshi, (2011) the most wilful are the intentional torts, which are further categorized by the interest that is injured. Intentional torts against the person include assault, battery, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment. It is on this grounds that the plaintiff based her case as she claimed that President Clinton had allegedly made “abhorrent” sexual advances to her.

Administrative law is defined broadly as any rule (statute or regulation) that directly or indirectly affects an administrative agency. According to Davis, (2009) the major functions of administrative agencies are rulemaking, adjudication, and the carrying out of numerous administrative activities. The executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government limit the power of federal agencies in numerous ways. In addition, several federal statutes limit the authority of administrative agencies. It is on these grounds that the president almost lost the case since being in office at the time and on trial at the same time burdens and would negatively affect his performance of his official duties.

This case later was sent back for trial on the merits, but the case was ultimately dismissed on April 1, 1998, on a motion for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff’s allegations, even if true, failed to state a claim of criminal sexual assault or sexual harassment (Clinton v. Jones, 1998). It was after this ruling that President Clinton won the case. The grounds of his winning was that if the Judiciary may severely burden the Executive Branch by reviewing the legality of the President’s official conduct, and if it may direct appropriate process to the President himself, it must follow that the federal courts have power to determine the legality of his unofficial conduct (Tribe and Laurence, 2016). The burden on the President’s time and energy that is a mere by-product of such review surely cannot be considered as onerous as the direct burden imposed by judicial review and the occasional invalidation of his official actions.

References

Bakshi, P. (2011). Law of Tort. Journal of the Indian Law Institute. Delhi. 30(2), 251-253.

Davis, M. (2009). Admistrative law. American Constitutional Law. New York, NY: Foundation Press. 47-54.

Tribe, H. & Laurence, J. (2016). Supplement to American constitutional law. Constitutional Law, Law and Legal Ethics. New York, NY: Foundation Press. 1204-1205.

William Jefferson Clinton v. Paula Corbin Jones, Supreme Court of the United States 520 U.S. 681 (1998). https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/95-1853.ZO.html.

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