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Connecticut v. Doehr

Citation. 501 U.S. 1 (1991)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Petitioner put an attachment on Respondents house without notice. Respondent argued that this violated the Due Process Clause.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Prejudgment attachment without prior notice and an opportunity to respond violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.


John F. DiGiovanni (Petitioner) sued Brian K. Doehr (Respondent) for assault and battery. During this lawsuit, Petitioner submitted an application with the state court for a prejudgment attachment on Respondent’s home. The court granted the attachment because Connecticut law authorized attachment of real estate without prior notice or opportunity for a prior hearing so long as Petitioner shows probable case of his claim. In response to the attachment, Respondent sued Petitioner in federal court, arguing that the Connecticut law was an unconstitutional violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.


Is the Connecticut law allowing attachment of real property without prior notice or a hearing a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?


The Court of Appeals is affirmed and the case remanded.


Justice Rehnquist

Justice Rehnquist agreed that the statute was unconstitutional, but argued that the rule was too broad.

Justice Scalia

Justice Scalia agreed that the test set forth in Mathews v. Eldridge was the proper test to determine the validity of the statute.


The Court determined that the prejudgment attachment permitted by statute in this case violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In making this determination the Court changed the inquiry established in Mathews v. Eldridge to reflect a dispute between two private parties, assessing the private interest of the property owner, the risk of erroneous deprivation, and the interest of the party seeking the attachment. The Court determined that the Respondent’s interest in the property was significant, no matter how temporary the deprivation may be, the risk of erroneous deprivation was high without any procedural safeguards offered by the statute, and the Petitioner’s interest in the property was minimal.

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