Skip to content

ABSTENTION

abstention.  1.  The  act  of  withholding  or  keeping  back  (something  or  oneself);  esp.,  the

withholding of a vote. 2. A federal court’s relinquishment of jurisdiction when necessary to avoid

needless conflict with a state’s administra-tion of its own affairs. 3. The legal principle underlying

such a relinquishment of jurisdiction. Cf. COMITY; OUR FEDERALISM. [Cases: Federal Courts

41–65. C.J.S. Bankruptcy §§ 16, 40.]

Burford  abstention.A  federal  court’s  refusal  to  review  a  state  court’s  decision  in  cases

involving a complex reg-ulatory scheme and sensitive areas of state concern. Burford  v. Sun Oil

Co., 319 U.S. 315, 63 S.Ct. 1098 (1943).

Colorado  River  abstention.A  federal  court’s  decision  to  abstain  while  relevant  and  parallel

state-court proceedings are underway. Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States,

424 U.S. 800, 96 S.Ct. 1236 (1976).

equitable  abstention.A  federal court’s  refraining  from  interfering  with  a  state  administrative

agency’s  decision  on  a  local  matter  when  the  aggrieved  party  has  adequate  relief  in  the  state

permissive  abstention.Abstention  that  a  bankruptcy  court  can,  but  need  not,  exercise  in  a

dispute  that  relates  to  the  bankruptcy  estate  but  that  can  be  litigated,  or  is  being  litigated,  in

another forum. • In deciding whether to abstain, the bankruptcy court must consider (1) the degree

to which state law governs the case, (2) the appropriateness of the procedure to be followed in the

other  forum,  (3)  the  remoteness  of  the  dispute  to  the  issues  in  the  bankruptcy  case, and  (4)  the

presence  of  nondebtor  parties  in  the  dispute.  28  USCA  §  1334(c)(1).  [Cases:  Federal  Courts

47.5.]

Pullman  abstention.A  federal  court’s  decision  to  abstain  so  that  state  courts  will  have  an

opportunity  to  settle  an  underlying  state-law  question  whose  resolution  may  avert  the  need  to

decide a federal constitutional question. Railroad Comm’n v. Pullman Co., 312 U.S. 496, 61 S.Ct.

643 (1941). [Cases: Federal Courts    43, 46.]

Thibodaux abstention (tib-<<schwa>>-doh). A federal court’s decision to abstain so that state

courts can decide difficult issues of public importance that, if decided by the federal court, could

result in unnecessary friction between state and federal authorities. Louisiana Power & Light Co. v.

City of Thibodaux, 360 U.S. 25, 79 S.Ct. 1070 (1959). [Cases: Federal Courts    41, 43.]

Younger  abstention.  1.  A  federal  court’s  decision  not  to  interfere  with  an  ongoing  state

criminal proceeding by issuing an injunction or granting declaratory relief, unless the prosecution

has been brought in bad faith or  merely as harassment. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S.Ct.

746 (1971). —  Also termed equitable-restraint doctrine.  [Cases: Federal Courts    49, 51, 54.] 2.

By extension, a federal court’s decision not to interfere with a state-court civil proceeding used to

enforce the criminal law, as to abate an obscene nuisance. See OUR FEDERALISM. [Blacks Law 8th]