An elementary and fundamental requirement of due process in any proceeding which is to be accorded finality is notice reasonably calculated, under the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them the opportunity to present their objections. Failure to give notice violates the most rudimentary demands of due process of law.
A creditor filed an action against a debtor to recover money allegedly due under the debtor's guarantee of a debt. The return showed personal, but untimely, service. Default judgment issued from the lower court, and the debtor sought to set aside the default judgment. He denied that he had been personally served and that he had notice of the judgment. The lower court ruled in favor of the creditor. On appeal, the Court of Appeals of Texas nevertheless held that to have the judgment set aside, the debtor was required to show that he had a meritorious defense, which he did not show. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Was the debtor required to show he has a defense for due process to be considered?
The Court held that state procedures for creating and enforcing liens were subject to the strictures of due process. The Court found that a fundamental requirement of due process in any proceeding which was to be accorded finality was notice reasonably calculated to interested parties so that they were allowed the opportunity to present their objections.