Key Aspects of Due Process: Overview

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Amdt5. Key Aspects of Due Process: Overview

Fifth Amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Although due process tolerates variances in procedure “appropriate to the nature of the case,” 1 it is nonetheless possible to identify its core goals and requirements. First, “[p]rocedural due process rules are meant to protect persons not from the deprivation, but from the mistaken or unjustified deprivation of life, liberty, or property.” 2 Thus, the required elements of due process are those that “minimize substantively unfair or mistaken deprivations” by enabling persons to contest the basis upon which a state proposes to deprive them of protected interests.3 The core of these requirements is notice and a hearing before an impartial tribunal. Due process may also require an opportunity for confrontation and cross-examination, and for discovery; that a decision be made based on the record, and that a party be allowed to be represented by counsel.

Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 313 (1950). back
Carey v. Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 259 (1978). “[P]rocedural due process rules are shaped by the risk of error inherent in the truth-finding process as applied to the generality of cases.” Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 344 (1976). back
Fuentes v. Shevin, 407 U.S. 67, 81 (1972). At times, the Court has also stressed the dignitary importance of procedural rights, the worth of being able to defend one’s interests even if one cannot change the result. Carey v. Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 266–67 (1978); Marshall v. Jerrico, Inc., 446 U.S. 238, 242 (1980); Nelson v. Adams, 529 U.S. 460 (2000) (amendment of judgement to impose attorney fees and costs to sole shareholder of liable corporate structure invalid without notice or opportunity to dispute). back

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