Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blackmer v. United States case brief, 284 U.S. 421 (1932)

Blackmer v. United States
284 U.S. 421 (1932)

Procedural History:
Appeal from contempt conviction.


Blackmer (D) was  found to be in contempt of court for failing to respond to subpoenas served upon him in France requiring his appearance in  the United States. Blackmer (D) was a U.S. (P) citizen who resided in France. He was served subpoenas to appear in court as a witness in a criminal trial in the United States. When he failed to respond to the subpoenas, contempt proceedings were initiated and Blackmer (D) was found guilty and fined. Blackmer (D) appealed, claiming the federal statute was unconstitutional.


For the exercise of judicial jurisdiction in personam, must there be due process?


for the exercise of judicial jurisdiction in personam, there must be due process


The Court did not find the statute to be unconstitutional. Blackmer (D) alleged that there was inadequate notice. Since Blackmer (D) retained his U.S. citizenship, he was still subject to U.S. authorities.


(Hughes, C.J.) Yes. For the exercise of judicial jurisdiction in personam, there must be due process. Due process requires appropriate notice of the judicial action and an opportunity to be heard. The statute provides that when the presence of a citizen of the United States who resides abroad is required in court, a subpoena be issued addressed to a consul of the United States. The consul must serve the subpoena on the witness personally with a tender of traveling expenses. Upon proof of such service and of the failure of the witness to appear, a court order may be issued. If the witness fails to comply with the court order, the court may adjudge the witness guilty of contempt. Congress acted pursuant to its authority in enacting the statute and it could prescribe a penalty to enforce it. Affirmed

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