Procedural Due Process: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution

By Rhonda Wasserman | Go to book overview
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Foreword

THE HONORABLE JOSEPH F. WEIS, JR., UNITED STATES CIRCUIT JUDGE

Justice Holmes had a knack for expressing important legal doctrine in memorably pithy terms. One of the better examples of this ability is, typically, found in a dissenting opinion. "Whatever disagreement there may be as to the scope of the phrase 'due process of law,' there can be no doubt that it embraces the fundamental conception of a fair trial, with opportunity to be heard." Frank v. Mangum, 237 U.S. 309, 347(1915).

That statement is deceptively simple and might lull the less inquisitive into feeling that further exposition would be superfluous. But subjecting that quote to the journalistic queries "who, what, when, where and why" reveals a complex, critical and fascinating area of the law.

Professor Rhonda Wasserman has devoted most of her legal career to a searching examination of the many facets of due process. In this easily readable book, she wends her way through the thicket of case law and scholarly commentary to arrive at a well-organized and informative presentation of an often misunderstood subject.

Dispute resolution is a weighty process that cannot function effectively in the absence of a highly organized system. Granting everyone, everywhere and any time the right to be heard on any issue would create a cacophony accomplishing little but confusion and obfuscation.

When all speak at once, no one is heard. When speech rambles interminably over immaterial and irrelevant matters, the fact finder's efficiency plummets to unacceptable levels. Rules to regulate the right to be heard in the litigation milieu become not merely desirable but essential.

Modern society has more than enough experience with unproductive babble in other institutions to recognize its destructive effect in the courtroom setting. Yet,

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