Connecticut v. Doehr

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

501 U.S. 1

Connecticut  v.  Doehr

No. 90-143  Argued: Jan. 7, 1991. --- Decided: June 6, 1991


A Connecticut statute authorizes a judge to allow the prejudgment attachment of real estate without prior notice or hearing upon the plaintiff's verification that there is probable cause to sustain the validity of his or her claim. Petitioner DiGiovanni applied to the State Superior Court for such an attachment on respondent Doehr's home in conjunction with a civil action for assault and battery that he was seeking to institute against Doehr in the same court. The application was supported by an affidavit in which DiGiovanni, in five one-sentence paragraphs, stated that the facts set forth in his previously submitted complaint were true; declared that the assault by Doehr resulted in particular injuries requiring expenditures for medical care; and stated his "opinion" that the foregoing facts were sufficient to establish probable cause. On the strength of these submissions, the judge found probable cause and ordered the attachment. Only after the sheriff attached the property did Doehr receive notice of the attachment, which informed him of his right to a postattachment hearing. Rather than pursue this option, he filed a suit in the Federal District Court, claiming that the statute violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. That court upheld the statute, but the Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the statute violated due process because, inter alia, it permitted ex parte attachment absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances, see, e.g., Mitchell v. W.T. Grant Co., 416 U.S. 600, 94 S.Ct. 1895, 40 L.Ed.2d 406, and the nature of the issues at stake in this case increased the risk that attachment was wrongfully granted, since the fact-specific event of a fist fight and the question of assault are complicated matters that do not easily lend themselves to documentary proof, see id., at 609-610, 94 S.Ct., at 1901.

Held: The judgment is affirmed.

898 F.2d 852 (CA 2 1990), affirmed.

Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and III, concluding that:


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).