Legal question

What does it mean when a case is “Ripe” for hearing? It seems to imply that a legal issue may not be heard or ruled upon for quite a while after it is raised. Doesn’t this violate the plaintifs right in such cases by delaying justice?

The Wikipedia article isn’t great, but it’ll do for an answer to your question:

So no, it prevents a waste of the court’s time on an issue that is hypothetical.

And see,

From what I could gather from the wiki, it seems that some kind of harm has to occur for a case to be ripe. The declatory judgement is interesting though. Can John Doe ask the court to rule that Richard Roe has violated his rights even though there has been no physical or financial harm? Is the declatory judgement the method to do that?

I haven’t read the Wiki, but I believe the ripeness rule in California requires that the harm has occurred or is substantially certain to occur.

Probably not, but I’m not super clear on what you’re getting at here. Here is some stuff on declaratory judgment actions (these cases need to be justiciable, but the standards are a bit different).

That’s OK. I’m not super clear about it either. But I do get the gist now on Ripeness. Danke.

DJ is extensively used in my area of law (patent), so I can tell you how it works there, and I think it generalizes. It’s basically a way to keep someone from threatening to sue you and dragging it out forever. If you have good cause to believe that someone else is likely to sue you, you can go to court and say “put up or shut up.” In the patent context, this generally occurs when someone sends you a letter that suggests that you infringe their patent, but doesn’t actually file suit. If you meet certain minimum requirements that show that you reasonably believe that they’re serious, then you can go to court and ask them to rule on whether you infringe without waiting for the other guy to start it. (A recent Supreme Court case suggested that there may be DJ jurisdiction whenever you are invited to take a patent license for a particular product.)

We will go crazily absurd here to illustrate the point. Let’s say that I want to get rid of DNA evidence in criminal trials because I feel that an advanced alien civilization with a vendetta against me could propogate human DNA causing wrongful convictions.

Assuming I was otherwise found to be sane, then the court would consider my argument as not being “ripe”. In other words, the scenario that I describe is not now, nor is reasonably in the near future to be a serious consideration that a court should rule upon.

Now, if next year at this time, a race of little green men land on the earth with a DNA replicator, then the court may reconsider its ruling and consider my argument now “ripe”.

Basically, a court can’t involve itself in any imaginable possibly which may or may not happen because it would do nothing but speculate.