Explain why it is important that a criminal law specifically define what conduct it prohibits.
Discussion Board Guidelines:
Our courts have held that criminal laws cannot be vague and cannot be overreaching. Calling a law “vague” means that the reader is uncertain or unclear of the idea that the writer is trying to convey. Think about what it would be like if our laws were “vague” and why the courts have said that they need to be specific.
The Concept of Due Process
Nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
—Excerpt from the Fifth Amendment, U.S. Constitution
Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
—Excerpt from the Fourteenth Amendment, U.S. Constitution
The concept of due process is difficult to understand, but its understand- ing is essential to understanding constitutional law’s impact on criminal jus- tice. There are two due process clauses in the U.S. Constitution. Generally, the due process clause in the Fifth Amendment is considered as a restraint on the federal government, and the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment applies to states and local governments. In the criminal justice area, due process is classified as either procedural due process or substantive due process. Procedural due process refers to the means or methods by which an individual exercises his or her due process rights. Substantive due process refers to the actual rights themselves, such as the right to a fair hearing or right to notice.
As noted in Chapter 1, the Supreme Court has held that the protections contained in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights were restraints on the federal government and not on the states. The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment has, however, been construed to provide most of those Bill of Rights’ protections to individuals involved in a state justice system.
Defining Due Process
What constitutes due process is not an easy question to answer. Probably the easy explanation of what constitutes due process is the statement by Justice Felix Frankfurter in his concurring opinion in the Supreme Court case Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath (1951, pp. 162–63):
The requirement of “due process” is not a fair-weather or timid assurance. It must be respected in periods of calm and in times of trouble; it protects aliens
2 C o p y r i g h t 2 0 0 9 . C R C P r e s s .
A l l r i g h t s r e s e r v e d . M a y n o t b e r e p r o d u c e d i n a n y f o r m w i t h o u t p e r m i s s i o n f r o m t h e p u b l i s h e r , e x c e p t f a i r u s e s p e r m i t t e d u n d e r U . S . o r a p p l i c a b l e c o p y r i g h t l a w .
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34 Constitutional Law and Criminal Justice
Photo 2.1 Justice Frankfurter (November 15, 1882–February 22, 1965) was born to a Jewish family in Vienna, Austria. He immigrated with his family to the United States in 1894, and grew up on New York City’s Lower East Side. He attended New York Law School, but in 1902 transferred to Harvard Law School, where he became an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He was appointed an associate justice by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939 and served until 1962. (Photograph by Harris and Ewing, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.)
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The Concept of Due Process 35
as well as citizens. But “due process,” unlike some legal rules, is not a technical conception with a fixed content unrelated to time, place and circumstances. Expressing as it does in its ultimate analysis respect enforced by law for that feeling of just treatment which has been evolved through centuries of Anglo- American constitutional history and civilization, “due process” cannot be imprisoned within the treacherous limits of any formula. Representing a profound attitude of fairness between man and man, and more particularly between the individual and government, “due process” is compounded of his- tory, reason, the past course of decisions, and stout confidence in the strength of the democratic faith which we profess. Due process is not a mechanical instrument. It is not a yardstick. It is a process. It is a delicate process of adjustment inescapably involving the exercise of judgment by those whom the Constitution entrusted with the unfolding of the process.
Other notable explanations of the due process concept are listed below:
• “The essential elements of due process of law are notice, an opportu- nity to be heard, and the right to defend in an orderly proceeding” (Fiehe v. R. E. Householder Co., 1929, p. 7).
• “Due process of law implies and comprehends the administration of laws equally applicable to all under established rules which do not violate fundamental principles of private rights, and in a competent tribunal possessing jurisdiction of the cause and proceeding upon justice. It is founded upon the basic principle that every man shall have his day in court, and the benefit of the general law which pro- ceeds only upon notice and which hears and considers before judg- ment is rendered” (State v. Green, 1950, p. 903).
• “Aside from all else, ‘due process’ means fundamental fairness and substantial justice” (Black’s Law Dictionary, 1961, p. 500).
Early History of Due Process Clause
The concept of due process can be traced back to English common law (Orth, 2003). The Magna Carta was signed in 1215 at Runnymede by King John. The Magna Carta’s Article 32 provided, in part, that “no freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or disseised, or outlawed, or exiled, or any wise destroyed; nor shall we go upon him, nor send upon him, but by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” According to Lord Coke (pronounced Cook), the words “due process of law” are equivalent in meaning to the words “law of the land,” contained in Article 32 (Levy, 1988, pp. 304–5).
In 1246, the church in England introduced its inquisitional oath proce- dure, whereby members of the church were required to state under oath as to whether or not they had committed certain acts of treason against the king or the church. When Henry II became king, he condemned the procedure as
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36 Constitutional Law and Criminal Justice
repugnant to the ancient customs and in violation of the law of the land. In 1354, the English Parliament reenacted and revised Article 32 of the Magna Carta. The revised article for the first time used the phrase “by due process of law” (Levy, 1988, pp. 303–4).
One of the first American cases involving the concept of due process was the 1693 case of Sir Thomas Lawrence. Sir Lawrence was the secretary of the Maryland colony, a judge, and a member of the governor’s council. After he denounced the Maryland colonial government, he was accused of having in his possession a treasonable letter. The council summoned him for an exami- nation and demanded that he produce the letter. When he refused to produce it, the council had him searched and found the letter. He was convicted of unspecified crimes, deprived of his office, and jailed for treason without a trial. Lawrence appealed his conviction to the state assembly. The assembly freed him and restored him to his office holding that his treatment violated the “law of the land” (Levy, 1988).
States and the Fourteenth Amendment
As noted in Chapter 1, the Supreme Court held in Barron v. Baltimore (1833) that the first ten amendments to the federal constitution were limitations solely on the federal government and were not limitations on the power of a state. When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, the courts begin to use the due process clause of that amendment to apply most of the limita- tions and individual protections contained in the Bill of Rights against the states and local governments. The Fourteenth Amendment was designed as an antislavery amendment. It is the first section of the amendment that con- tains the due process clause. Section 1 of the amendment reads as follows:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the juris- diction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privi- leges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The first case in which the Supreme Court considered the relationship between the Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights was Hurtado v. California (1884). An “information” was filed by the State of California against defendant Hurtado, charging him with murder. In California, an accused may be charged by an information, which is a sworn statement charging the defendant with a violation of a specified crime or crimes. Without any inves- tigation by a grand jury, the defendant was arraigned and pleaded not guilty. He was found guilty by a verdict of murder in the first degree and was then
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The Concept of Due Process 37
sentenced to death. The defendant appealed the judgment on the ground that he was not legally indicted by or presented to a grand jury in violation of the Fifth Amendment, and that the proceedings violated due process of law, as they were in conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. In Hurtado, the Supreme Court stated that the words “due process of law” in the Fourteenth Amendment do not necessarily require an indictment by a grand jury in a prosecution by a state for murder. The Hurtado case pointed out that the Court was not going to accept all the individual protections in the Bill of Rights as necessary requirements to constitute due process.
The first case to apply one of the guarantees of the Bill of Rights to the states was Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy R.R. v. Chicago (1897). The Supreme Court held in the case that the “due process of law” required the state to pay compensation to the owner of private property taken for public use. In the case, the city had taken land from the railroad company for the purpose of building a public street.
The guarantees of freedom of speech and press were applied against a state in Gitlow v. New York (1925). The Supreme Court stated in Gitlow (at p. 666):
For present purposes we may and do assume that freedom of speech and of the press—which are protected by the First Amendment from abridgment by
Photo 2.2 Each Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court is in session, its opin- ions are announced at its public session on “decision day.” Individuals may obtain copies of a decision on decision day from a special office in the Supreme Court building. Two attorneys are currently receiving one of the recent opinions from the office. (Photograph by Cliff Roberson.)
38 Constitutional Law and Criminal Justice
Congress—are among the fundamental personal rights and “liberties” pro- tected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impair- ment by the States.
Application of the Bill of Rights to the States
From the date of the Hurtado case, the Supreme Court has struggled with the concept of due process and determining which Bill of Rights protections are necessary to constitute due process in state criminal courts. The approaches to this issue include the following:
• The fundamental rights • Justice Hugo Black’s total incorporation • Selective incorporation
In the Hurtado case, the Court adopted the “fundamental rights interpre- tation” of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause. Under the funda- mental rights concept, the Fourteenth Amendment is viewed as incorporating those rights included in the Bill of Rights that are so rooted in the traditions and conscience of the people to be considered as fundamental rights. The right to a grand jury indictment was not included in those rights, even though that was one of the fundamental rights set forth in the Magna Carta.
The fundamental rights interpretation was used by Justice Benjamin Cardozo in Snyder v. Massachusetts (1934). Snyder was charged with mur- der and attempted robbery of a gas station in Somerville, Massachusetts. His counsel argued on appeal that the denial of his request to be present when the jury viewed the crime scene was a denial of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The counsel contended that Snyder had a right to be present, and the failure of the trial court to allow his presence put him at a disadvan- tage despite the fact that Snyder’s defense counsel was present. The Supreme Court denied the appeal. Justice Cardozo stated, in part:
A state may regulate the procedure of its courts in accordance with its own conception of policy and fairness unless it offends some principle of justice ranked as fundamental.
… Due process of law requires that the proceedings shall be fair, but fairness is a relative, not an absolute concept. It is fairness with reference to particular conditions or particular results. The due process clause does not impose upon the states a duty to establish ideal systems for the administration of justice, with every modern improvement and with provision against every possible hardship that may befall. (pp. 103–4).
The fundamental rights interpretation prevailed until the 1960s; there was a notable shift from what constitutes a fundamental right from 1930 to
The Concept of Due Process 39
1960. As the Supreme Court became more involved in state criminal trials, the Court determined that more of the rights contained in the Bill of Rights were fundamental. In 1932 in Powell v. Alabama, the Court held that the right to counsel was a fundament right for indigents who did not understand the process.
In 1937, the Court backtracked and held in Palko v. Connecticut that the due process clause did not include the protection against double jeopardy.
Photo 2.3 Associate Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo (May 24, 1870–July 9, 1938) was a well-known American lawyer and jurist, remembered for his significant influence on the development of American common law in the 20th century. Although Cardozo served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1932 until his death in 1938, the majority of his landmark decisions were delivered during his 18-year tenure on the New York Court of Appeals. (Photograph by Harris and Ewing, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.)
40 Constitutional Law and Criminal Justice
The Palko decision was, however, overruled in Benton v. Maryland (1969). In Benton, a Maryland state court tried the accused on charges of burglary and larceny. He was found not guilty of larceny, but was convicted of the bur- glary and was sentenced to ten years in prison. Because both the grand and trial juries in the case had been unconstitutionally selected, the Maryland Court of Appeals returned the case to the trial court for a new trial. Benton was reindicted and retried on both charges. At the second trial, Benton con- tended that it was a violation of his protection against double jeopardy to be tried again on the larceny charge because he was found not guilty of it at the first trial. He was found guilty of both offenses and given concurrent sen- tences of 15 years on the burglary count and 5 years for larceny.
The Supreme Court reversed Benton’s conviction in an opinion written by Justice Marshall. The Court stated that the double jeopardy prohibition of the Fifth Amendment represents a fundamental ideal in our constitutional heritage, and it applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.
The total incorporation approach was championed by Justice Hugo Black. He contended that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment should be read to include all the protections contained in the Bill of Rights. In his dis- senting opinion in Adamson v. California (1947, pp. 71–72), Black stated:
In my study of the historical events that culminated in the Fourteenth Amendment, and the expressions of those who sponsored and favored, as well as those who opposed its submission and passage, it persuades me that one of the chief objects that the provisions of the Amendment’s first section, separately, and as a whole, were intended to accomplish was to make the Bill of Rights applicable to the states. With full knowledge of the import of the Barron decision, the framers and backers of the Fourteenth Amendment pro- claimed its purpose to be to overturn the constitutional rule that case had announced. This historical purpose has never received full consideration or exposition in any opinion of this Court interpreting the Amendment.
The total incorporation approach never received the support of a majority of the Court. But between the years 1947 and 1969, the Supreme Court by the process of selective incorporation incorporated almost all of the important guarantees of the Bill of Rights. The total incorporation approach’s criticism of the fundamental rights approach, however, probably led to the demise of the fundamental rights approach.
Even though the Palko case was later overruled, it is considered as the case that introduced the selective incorporation approach. The selected incorporation approach, which is used today, is a compromise between the total incorporation and the fundamental rights approaches. The selective approach accepts the premise from the fundamental rights approach that not all rights contained in the Bill of Rights are fundamental to due process.
The Concept of Due Process 41
Photo 2.4 Associate Justice Hugo LaFayette Black (February 27, 1886–September 25, 1971) was a politician and jurist. Justice Black represented the state of Alabama in the United States Senate from 1926 to 1937, and served as an associ- ate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1937 to 1971. He was regarded as one of the most influential Supreme Court justices in the 20th cen- tury. Black was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was the first of nine Roosevelt nominees to the Court, and with the exception of William O. Douglas, he outlasted them all. Justice Black is noted for his advocacy of a literal- ist reading of the United States Constitution and of the position that the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights were imposed on the states (“incorporated”) by the Fourteenth Amendment. (Photograph by Harris and Ewing, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.)
42 Constitutional Law and Criminal Justice
Whereas the fundamental approach looked only to the character of the specific right in a particular case, the selective incorporation approach requires that the Court examine the total right guaranteed by a particular Bill of Rights provision to determine if that provision is fundamental to due process. For example, under the fundamental rights approach, if there was a claim that a certain action by the police violated the defendant’s rights again self-incrim- ination, the Court would examine whether that particular aspect of the right was a fundamental right of the defendant. Under the selective incorporation approach, the Court would look at the entire clause against self-incrimination to determine if self-incrimination in general was a due process right.
The following Bill of Rights protections have been selectively incorpo- rated by the Fourteenth Amendment and are held enforceable against the states to the same standards that the rights protect the individual from fed- eral encroachment:
First Amendment: Free speech (Gitlow v. New York, 1925) Freedom of press (Near v. Minnesota, 1931) Freedom to assembly (Dejonge v. Oregon, 1937)
Fourth Amendment: General right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965) Protection against unreasonable searches and seizures (Wolf v.
Colorado, 1949). Exclusionary rule (Mapp v. Ohio, 1961) Requirement of probable cause to arrest (Terry v. Ohio, 1961)
Fifth Amendment: Protection against self-incrimination (Malloy v. Hogan, 1968) Protection against double jeopardy (Benton v. Maryland, 1969)
Sixth Amendment: Right to trial by jury in serious cases (Duncan v. Louisiana, 1968) Right to speedy trial (Klopfer v. North Carolina, 1967) Right to be informed of nature of charges (Connally v. General
Construction Co., 1926) Right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses (Pointer v.
Texas, 1965) Right to subpoena witnesses in a criminal case (Washington v.
Texas, 1967) Eighth Amendment:
Protection against “cruel and unusual” punishment (Robinson v. California, 1962)
The following rights, although required in federal criminal proceedings, have not been imposed on the states:
The Concept of Due Process 43
Fifth Amendment: Right to grand jury indictment (Hurtado v. California, 1884)
Sixth Amendment: Right to jury trial in minor criminal cases (Duncan v. Louisiana, 1968)
Eighth Amendment: Prohibition against excessive bail (The Court has never decided this
issue, but indicated in Schilb v. Kuebel (1971) that it would apply to the states.)
Regarding the prohibition against excessive bail, Justice Harry Blackmun in Schilb v. Kuebel (p. 485) stated:
Bail, of course, is basic to our system of law, and the Eighth Amendment’s pro- scription of excessive bail has been assumed to have application to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment. But we are not at all concerned here with any fundamental right to bail or with any Eighth Amendment–Fourteenth Amendment question of bail excessiveness.
Due Process beyond the Bill of Rights
Does the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provide additional protections other than those rights set forth in the Bill of Rights? Stated in a different manner, can police conduct violate the due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment without violating one of the specific protec- tions listed in the Bill of Rights? This issue was addressed by the Supreme Court in the case of Rochin v. California (1952). Defendant Rochin was con- victed of possession of morphine. Rochin, on appeal, claimed that the evi- dence against him was obtained in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Facts Having “some information that Rochin was selling narcotics,” three dep- uty sheriffs of the County of Los Angeles, on the morning of July 1, 1949, entered the two-story dwelling house in which Rochin lived with his mother, common-law wife, brothers, and sisters. Finding the outside door open, they entered and then forced open the door to Rochin’s room on the second floor. Inside they found the petitioner sitting partly dressed on the side of the bed, upon which his wife was lying. On a “night stand” beside the bed the depu- ties spied two capsules. When asked “Whose stuff is this?” Rochin seized the capsules and put them in his mouth. A struggle ensued, in the course of which the three officers “jumped upon him” and attempted to extract the capsules. The force they applied proved unavailing against Rochin’s resis- tance. He was handcuffed and taken to a hospital. At the direction of one of
44 Constitutional Law and Criminal Justice
the officers, a doctor forced an emetic solution through a tube into Rochin’s stomach against his will. This “stomach pumping” produced vomiting. In the vomited matter were found two capsules that proved to contain morphine (p. 187). (This case was decided by the Court before the exclusionary rule was imposed upon the states by the Mapp v. Ohio (1961) decision.)
Court’s Opinion Justice Flex Frankfurter delivered the opinion of the Court. He stated that “even though the concept of due process of law is not final and fixed, these limits are derived from considerations that are fused in the whole nature of our judicial process” (p. 171). According to the justice, the considerations are deeply rooted in reason and in the compelling traditions of the legal profes- sion. The due process clause places upon the Supreme Court the duty of exer- cising a judgment, within the narrow confines of judicial power in reviewing State convictions, upon interests of society pushing in opposite directions. Justice Frank Frankfurter stated in his opinion:
Due process of law, according to the justice, thus conceived is not to be derided as resort to a revival of “natural law.” To believe that this judicial exercise of judgment could be avoided by freezing “due process of law” at some fixed stage of time or thought is to suggest that the most important aspect of consti- tutional adjudication is a function for inanimate machines and not for judges, for whom the independence safeguarded by Article III of the Constitution was designed and who are presumably guided by established standards of judicial behavior. Even cybernetics has not yet made that haughty claim. To practice the requisite detachment and to achieve sufficient objectivity no doubt demands of judges the habit of self-discipline and self-criticism, incertitude that one’s own views are incontestable and alert tolerance toward views not shared. But these are precisely the presuppositions of our judicial process. They are pre- cisely the qualities society has a right to expect from those entrusted with ultimate judicial power.
Applying these general considerations to the circumstances of the pres- ent case, we are compelled to conclude that the proceedings by which this conviction was obtained do more than offend some fastidious squeamishness or private sentimentalism about combating crime too energetically. This is conduct that shocks the conscience. Illegally breaking into the privacy of the petitioner, the struggle to open his mouth and remove what was there, the forcible extraction of his stomach’s contents—this course of proceeding by agents of government to obtain evidence is bound to offend even hardened sensibilities. They are methods too close to the rack and the screw to permit of constitutional differentiation (pp. 171–72).
The Supreme Court found no distinction between a verbal confession extracted by physical abuse and a confession wrested from a defendant’s
The Concept of Due Process 45
body by physical abuse. Moreover, the Court found that the police officers’ conduct, by illegally violating the defendant’s privacy, struggling to open his mouth, and forcibly extracting his stomach’s contents, shocked the con- science. The Court ruled that the coerced evidence was inadmissible under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment—and that the due pro- cess clause included more protections than those specifically listed in the Bill of Rights.
The test formulated by Justice Frankfurter in Rochin provides that it is a violation of due process when the police conduct departs from the funda- mental standards of decency and fairness of the English-speaking peoples and shocks the judicial conscience (Dunne, 1977, p. 288). The abortion case, Roe v. Wade (1973), which held that women have certain abortion rights, dis- cusses the right of privacy and includes that the right of privacy was incorpo- rated into the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Procedural Due Process
Procedural due process refers to the means or methods by which an indi- vidual exercises his or her due process rights. As the Supreme Court noted in Fuentes v. Shevin (1972), the central meaning of procedural due process is clear: “Parties whose rights are to be affected are entitled to be heard; and in order that they may enjoy that right they must first be notified.” The Court also stated that it was equally fundamental that the right to notice and an opportunity to be heard “must be granted at a meaningful time and in a meaningful …
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