Seventh Circuit Review


The probate exception to federal jurisdiction prohibits federal courts from hearing cases involving matters related to the probate of wills or administration of estates. Though it has traditionally been applied in the context of diversity, the courts are split on its applicability in federal question cases. The decision of the United States Supreme Court in Marshall v. Marshall clarifies the scope of the exception in the context of bankruptcy proceedings, but what about its application in other federal question cases? In Jones v. Brennan, which involved a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising out probate proceedings, the Seventh Circuit chose not to follow the Supreme Court’s trend of narrowing the application of the exception and instead broadened it by holding it applicable to federal question cases. This Comment analyzes the effect that the Marshall decision has on cases involving the probate exception, specifically in the Seventh Circuit, and how that precedent should be used as a basis for formulating a clearer and narrower approach to the exception’s application to federal question cases.

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