Monday, July 11, 2011

US Supreme Court on Presumptions and Due Process- some landmark cases

By Yasser Latif Hamdani
Principle: It is clearly within the domain of the legislative branch of government to establish presumptions and rules respecting burden of proof in litigation.
1.       Hawkins v. Bleakly, 243 U.S. 210 (1917)  US SUPREME COURT on pages 1-2 of the attached copy of the Judgment
The provisions in § 3 of the Iowa Workmen's Compensation Law, Laws of Iowa, 35 G.A. c. 147; Iowa Code Supp., 1913, § 2477m, requiring employees who reject the act to state by affidavit who, if anyone, requested or suggested that course, and providing that, where an employer or his agent has made such request or suggestion, the employee shall be conclusively presumed to have been unduly influenced and his rejection of the act shall be void. Held permissible regulation in aid of the general scheme of the act.
A workmen's compensation act which, prescribing the measure of compensation and the circumstances under which it is to be made, establishes a method of applying the measure to the facts of each case by due hearings before an administrative tribunal, whose action upon all fundamental and jurisdictional questions is subject to judicial review, is not open to objection upon the ground that it clothes the administrative body with an arbitrary and unbridled discretion in violation of due process of law.
Trial by jury is not one of the rights secured by the Fourteenth Amendment.

2.       James-Dickinson Farm Mortgage Co. v. Harry, 273 U.S. 119 (1927) on page 1 of the copy of the judgment

A statute making actionable as a fraud a false promise of future action by which the other party is induced to enter into a contract is within state power, and not a violation of due process. P. 273 U. S. 123.  A state constitutionally may make proof of one fact presumptive evidence of another rationally connected with it, and may shift the burden of proof. P. 273 U. S. 124.  A state statute defining liability and regulating procedure in cases of fraud in transactions involving purchase of real estate or of stock in a corporation or joint stock company does not violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in not embracing other frauds. P. 273 U. S. 125.

3.       Vance v. Terrazas, 444 U.S. 252 (1980) on page 2 of the copy of the judgment

 Nor is the presumption of voluntariness provided in § 349(c) constitutionally infirm. While the statute provides that any of the statutory expatriating acts, if proved, is presumed to have been committed voluntarily, it does not also direct a presumption that the act has been performed with the intent to relinquish United States citizenship, which matter remains the burden of the party claiming expatriation to prove by a preponderance of the evidence. Section 349(c) and its legislative history make clear that Congress preferred the ordinary rule that voluntariness of an act is presumed and that duress is an affirmative defense to be proved by the party asserting it, and to invalidate the rule here would give the Citizenship Clause far more scope in this context than the relevant circumstances that brought the Fourteenth Amendment into being would suggest appropriate. Pp. 444 U. S. 267-270.

4.       Usery v. Turner Elkhorn Mining Co., 428 U.S. 1 (1976) on page 2 of the copy of judgment

A number of operators brought this suit claiming that the Act is unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment insofar as it requires benefit payments with respect to miners who left mine employment before the Act's effective date; that the statutory definitions, presumptions, and limitations on rebuttal evidence unconstitutionally impair the operator's ability to defend against benefit claims; and that certain regulations promulgated by the Secretary of Labor regarding the apportionment of liability for benefits among operators are inconsistent with the Act, and unconstitutional. The District Court upheld each challenged provision as constitutional, with two exceptions: (1) It held § 411(c)(3) unconstitutional as an unreasonable and arbitrary legislative finding of total disability "in terms other than those provided by the Act as standards for total disability." (2) Reading the evidence limitation on rebuttal in § 411(c)(4) to apply to an operator's defense in a § 415 transition period case, the court held the limitation arbitrary and unreasonable in not permitting a rebuttal showing that the case of pneumoconiosis afflicting the miner was not disabling. And, taking the provision to mean that an operator may defend against liability only on the ground that pneumoconiosis did not arise out of employment in any coal mine (rather than in a coal mine for which the operator was responsible), the District Court found the provision an arbitrary and unreasonable limitation on rebuttal evidence relevant and proper under § 422(c). The court enjoined the Secretary of Labor from seeking to apply the two provisions thus found unconstitutional.

5.       Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976) on page 3 of the copy of the judgment

Requiring an evidentiary hearing upon demand in all cases prior to the termination of disability benefits would entail fiscal and administrative burdens out of proportion to any countervailing benefits. The judicial model of an evidentiary hearing is neither a required, nor even the most effective, method of decisionmaking in all circumstances, and here, where the prescribed procedures not only provide the claimant with an effective process for asserting his claim prior to any administrative action, but also assure a right to an evidentiary hearing, as well as subsequent judicial review before the denial of his claim becomes final, there is no deprivation of procedural due process. Pp. 424 U. S. 347-349.

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