Relevance of Historical Use.

The requirements of due pro-cess are determined in part by an examination of the settled usages and modes of proceedings of the common and statutory law of England during pre-colonial times and in the early years of this country.742 In other words, the antiquity of a legal procedure is a factor weighing in its favor. However, it does not follow that a procedure settled in English law and adopted in this country is, or remains, an essential element of due process of law. If that were so, the procedure of the first half of the seventeenth century would be “fastened upon American jurisprudence like a strait jacket, only to be unloosed by constitutional amendment.”743 Fortunately, the states are not tied down by any provision of the Constitution to the practice and procedure that existed at the common law, but may avail themselves of the wisdom gathered by the experience of the country to make changes deemed to be necessary.744

Footnotes

742
Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78, 101 (1908); Brown v. New Jersey, 175 U.S. 172, 175 (1899). “A process of law, which is not otherwise forbidden, must be taken to be due process of law, if it can show the sanction of settled usage both in England and this country.” Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. at 529. [Back to text]
743
Twining, 211 U.S. at 101. [Back to text]
744
Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516, 529 (1884); Brown v. New Jersey, 175 U.S. 172, 175 (1899); Anderson Nat’l Bank v. Luckett, 321 U.S. 233, 244 (1944). [Back to text]