339 U.S. 306
SYNOPSIS: Appellant special guardian sought review of a decision of the New York Court of Appeals that held that the statutory notices to the trust beneficiaries was adequate to afford due process under U.S. Const. amend. XIV.
-Appellee bank and a trust company established a common trust fund that complied with N.Y. Banking Law § 100-c.
-Appellee petitioned for a settlement of its first account as a common trustee.
-Upon the filing of the petition, appellant was appointed the special guardian.
-The only notice given to the beneficiaries was by a publication in a local newspaper that was in strict compliance with § 100-c.
-Appellant objected, contending that the notice and statutory provisions for notice to beneficiaries were inadequate to afford due process.
The New York Court of Appeals overruled the objection.
The Court reversed, holding that the notice requirement under § 100-c was inadequate because it did not provide for a means to contact those who could easily be informed by other means.
The notice had to reasonably convey the required information and afford a reasonable time for those interested to make their appearance.
-When notice is a person's due, process which is a mere gesture is not due process. The means employed must be such as one desirous of actually informing the absentee might reasonably adopt to accomplish it.
-The reasonableness and hence the constitutional validity of any chosen method may be defended on the ground that it is in itself reasonably certain to inform those affected, or, where conditions do not reasonably permit such notice, the form chosen is not substantially less likely to bring home notice than other of the feasible and customary substitutes.
OUTCOME: The notice statute was found unconstitutional. The Court held that the statute was required to afford reasonable time for those interested to make an appearance and that the notice requirement under the statute was inadequate because it did not provide for the means to contact those who could easily be informed by other means.
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