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The Constitutional Right of Judicial Review

The Constitutional right of judicial review is probably the most essential of our rights as citizens. Without judicial review, we would have no way to enforce other rights—such as our Constitutional protections or rights secured under contract. While the law recognizes that everyone deserves their day in court when their rights have been violated, it is not always a simple task to get your case in front of a judge. If you anticipate the need for litigation, it is important to consult with a trusted attorney as soon as possible about your options, and to get sound advice about how you should proceed. The Sacramento and LA Constitutional lawyers at Kassouni Law are committed to ensuring that you have an opportunity to protect your rights in court, and they are prepared to offer strategic advice to ensure that you attain the results you want.

The first thing to recognize regarding the right of judicial review is that federal courts only have jurisdiction to hear actual “cases and controversies.” In other words, the federal courts cannot decide a case in the absence of an actual dispute between different parties. This prevents the courts from entertaining purely theoretical arguments, or from giving advisory opinions; however, if you have a genuine dispute, you probably have “standing” to go before a federal judge.

Under the federal “standing” doctrine, it is necessary to demonstrate that you have been “injured” in some manner, and that the Court can help redress your injury by ruling in your favor. For example, you generally lack standing to argue that a regulation has harmed someone else; however, you would have standing if you could demonstrate that you are injured by the regulation, and that the court can help redress your injury by it striking down. So long as the regulation is already in effect, or will imminently come into effect, you should be able to satisfy the federal standing requirement.

On the other hand, there are situations in which the court might say that a case is “unripe” because the defendant has not yet acted to inflict the injury. In these cases, the courts say that the injury is still speculative, and will withhold from hearing the case until it is clear that the injury has occurred. A related issue commonly arises when dealing with administrative agencies, especially when you are seeking a permit or a license. If the reviewing agency has yet to make a definitive decision on the permit or license application, courts will generally refuse to hear the case. Accordingly, when dealing with administrative agencies, it is particularly important to work with a trusted attorney to ensure that you have exhausted administrative remedies, and that you have secured a final decision which can be appealed in court.

California law likewise requires individuals to exhaust administrative remedies before going to court; however, California courts differ in certain respects from the federal courts in how they determine whether they can hear a given case. Generally speaking California courts are less restricted in what cases they may address because federal courts may hear only cases raising federal questions of law and or suits between parties from different states. By contrast California courts can address most any legal dispute, but they still require that you demonstrate your interest in the matter. Under the so called “real party in interest” doctrine, it is necessary to establish that you have a reasonable interest in the dispute at hand in order to appear before the court. You should consult with an attorney to determine whether you have a sufficient interest to raise your concerns in court.

Furthermore, it is also necessary to talk with an experienced attorney about your options before going to court. In some cases, disputes may be resolved effectively and efficiently without incurring substantial legal expenses; however, where it is necessary to enforce your rights in court, you should consult your attorney about whether you are best off proceeding in state or federal court. The Sacramento and LA Constitutional attorneys at Kassouni Law are prepared to offer you the guidance you need.