Prior-Exclusive-Jurisdiction Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Prior exclusive jurisdiction doctrine is a principle of mutual respect which says that a court will not assume in rem jurisdiction over property that is already under the jurisdiction of another court of concurrent jurisdiction. Principles of comity and federalism underlie the doctrine. The purpose of the rule is the maintenance of comity between courts. Such harmony is compromised by state and federal judicial systems attempting to assert concurrent control over the res upon which jurisdiction of each depends.

Two courts may not exercise simultaneous in rem jurisdiction over the same res. A federal court may enjoin a state court proceeding "where the federal court's jurisdiction is in rem and the state court action may effectively deprive the federal court of the opportunity to adjudicate as to the res." Conversely, where the state court's in rem jurisdiction is antecedent, a federal court may not take jurisdiction over the res. [United States v. $2,542 in U.S. Currency, 754 F. Supp. 378, 379-380 (D. Vt. 1990)]