Jus tertii
Jus tertii is the legal classification for an argument made by a third party (as opposed to the legal title
A title is a prefix or suffix added to someone's name to signify either veneration, an official position or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may even be inserted between a first and last name...

 holder) which attempts to justify entitlement to possessory rights based on the showing of legal title in another person. By showing legitimate title in another person, jus tertii arguments imply that the present possessor’s interest is illegitimate or that the present possessor is a thief.

Under United States law, jus tertii arguments are generally insufficient to support actions for replevin
In creditors' rights law, replevin, sometimes known as "claim and delivery," is a legal remedy for a person to recover goods unlawfully withheld from his or her possession, by means of a special form of legal process in which a court may require a defendant to return specific goods to the...

 because they fail to show that possession is more legitimate in the third party than in the present possessor. However, a bailee
Bailment describes a legal relationship in common law where physical possession of personal property, or chattel, is transferred from one person to another person who subsequently has possession of the property...

 or other legal agent of the owner may successfully assert the argument.

The principle is sometimes used to allow one person to enforce or test the constitutional rights of another, which usually can't be done due to lack of standing. This is only possible for fundamental rights, where there is a close connection between the person whose rights are violated and the person wishing to enforce them, and the constitutional right being enforced is a fundamental right. See, e.g., Singleton v. Wulff Et Al., 96 S. Ct. 2868, 428 U.S. 106 (U.S. 1976).

Hypothetical example

Art brings an action
Cause of action
In the law, a cause of action is a set of facts sufficient to justify a right to sue to obtain money, property, or the enforcement of a right against another party. The term also refers to the legal theory upon which a plaintiff brings suit...

 for replevin against Burt, seeking to recover a bicycle
A bicycle, also known as a bike, pushbike or cycle, is a human-powered, pedal-driven, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A person who rides a bicycle is called a cyclist, or bicyclist....

. In support for the action, Art presents evidence that Cathy is in fact the true owner of the bicycle in question, not Burt. A US court would reject Art’s jus tertii argument for replevin because he has failed to show that he has a more legitimate interest in the bike than does Burt.

Case law example

In Gissel v. State, 727 P.2d 1153
Case citation
Case citation is the system used in many countries to identify the decisions in past court cases, either in special series of books called reporters or law reports, or in a 'neutral' form which will identify a decision wherever it was reported...

 (Idaho 1986), Gissel unlawfully harvested wild rice growing on land jointly owned by the state of Idaho and the National Forest Service. An Idaho Court convicted Gissel of trespass
Trespass is an area of tort law broadly divided into three groups: trespass to the person, trespass to chattels and trespass to land.Trespass to the person, historically involved six separate trespasses: threats, assault, battery, wounding, mayhem, and maiming...

, and Idaho officials seized and sold the rice at auction. Because Idaho had only one half interest in the land, Gissel challenged the state’s authority to seize, sell, and keep the profits from all of the rice. The Idaho Supreme Court
Idaho Supreme Court
The Idaho Supreme Court is the state supreme court of the state of Idaho, composed of the chief justice and four associate justices.The decisions of the Idaho Supreme Court are binding on all other Idaho state courts.The only court that may reverse or modify its decisions is the Supreme Court of...

 held that Gissel was entitled to half of the profits because Idaho did not effectively make the jus tertii argument on behalf of the federal government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

, “the Gissels, though trespassers and without legal title, which title rests with the Forest Service, still by mere possession have greater rights superior to that of the state.”
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