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

By Rhonda Wasserman | Go to book overview

6
Due Process Limitations on
Personal Jurisdiction

""P"roceedings in a court of justice to determine the personal rights
and obligations of parties over whom that court has no jurisdiction do not
constitute due process of law."1

If the principal procedural protections afforded by due process are notice and the opportunity to be heard, protection from litigation in a distant and inconvenient forum is an important corollary. Even if a defendant receives personal notice and is promised a full opportunity to present evidence to an impartial decisionmaker and to cross-examine the witnesses against her, these protections may prove illusory if the defendant is summoned to appear in a distant forum with which she has no connection. If the inconvenience of defending there is sufficiently great, the defendant may default and the court will render judgment against her without having afforded her a meaningful opportunity to defend on the merits. Even if the defendant is able to appear, she may be seriously disadvantaged if compelled to defend in a distant state: she may not be able to subpoena important witnesses to appear and testify; she may not be able to obtain jurisdiction over potential thirdparty defendants onto whom she otherwise would seek to shift all or a portion of her liability; and she may be subject to the less favorable laws of the forum state, which a court in her home state (or an alternate forum) would not apply.2 To ensure, then, that the defendant's opportunity to be heard is a meaningful one, due process shields her from suit in a state with which she has "no contacts, ties, or relations" (Shaffer v. Heitner, 1977; Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 1945). In other words, the Due Process Clause limits the reach of the court's personal jurisdiction. Because the plaintiff consents to jurisdiction by filing suit in the forum state, the focus ordinarily is on the defendant's amenability to jurisdiction.3

Of course, the Due Process Clauses do not explicitly mention limitations on personal jurisdiction. Therefore, we will begin by considering when and why the United States Supreme Court first concluded that the Due Process Clauses constrain personal jurisdiction, and whether this due process protection is properly

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Foreword xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1: The History of Due Process 1
  • 2: Preliminaries 21
  • 3: Notice and the Opportunity to Be Heard 63
  • 4: The Form and Extent of Notice 129
  • 5: Due Process Limitations on the Binding Effect of Judgments 163
  • 6: Due Process Limitations on Personal Jurisdiction 207
  • 7: Due Process Limitations on Choice of Law 263
  • Bibliographical Essay 289
  • Table of Cases 325
  • Index 351
  • About the Author 379
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