Due Process Rights In An Evidentiary Hearing In California

Due process calls for a "hearing appropriate to the nature of the case." ( Mullane v. Central Hanover Tr. Co. (1950) 339 U.S. 306, 313 70 S. Ct. 652, 657, 94 L. Ed. 2d 865, 873.) The essential elements of due process accorded in a hearing traditionally consist of the right to produce evidence and cross-examine adverse witnesses (Fewel v. Fewel (1943) 23 Cal. 2d 431, 433 144 P.2d 592), the right to appear by counsel (Mendozza v. Small Claims Court (1958) 49 Cal. 2d 668, 673 321 P.2d 9), and the right to an impartial decision maker ( Tumey v. Ohio (1927) 273 U.S. 510, 531 47 S. Ct. 437, 444, 71 L. Ed. 749, 757-758, 50 A.L.R. 1243). The Supreme Court has summarized a criminal defendant's due process rights in an evidentiary hearing as follows: "The United States Supreme Court has described the right of the defendant in a criminal trial to due process as 'the right to a fair opportunity to defend against the State's accusations.' Similarly, 'the spirit and purpose' of the right to due process under the California Constitution is 'to assure to everyone a full and ample opportunity to be heard before he can be deprived of his liberty or his property.' However, the procedures at a suppression hearing before a judge need not be the same as those available to a defendant at trial. Nonetheless, at a suppression hearing, the defendant must have a fair opportunity to litigate the claim." (People v. Hansel (1992) 1 Cal. 4th 1211, 1219 4 Cal. Rptr. 2d 888, 824 P.2d 694.)