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Burnham v. Superior Court

United States Supreme Court
495 U.S. 604 (1990)



Dennis Burnham (plaintiff) and Francie Burnham were married from 1976 until July 1987, at which point they decided to separate. At that time, they were living in New Jersey with their two children. They agreed to divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences and that Francie would move to California, where she would have custody of both children. She moved to California, and in October 1987, Dennis filed for divorce in the state of New Jersey on the grounds of desertion, but never attempted to serve her. In January 1988, while in California for business and to visit his children, Dennis was served with a California court summons and Francie’s divorce petition. Subsequently, he returned to New Jersey. Later that year, Dennis filed a motion to quash on the basis that it was a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment for California to assert jurisdiction over him, because he lacked the minimum contacts necessary for personal jurisdiction. The superior court denied the motion, and the California Court of Appeal denied mandamus relief, holding that it was enough that Dennis was present in the forum and personally served with process. Dennis appealed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

Concurrence (White, J.)

Concurrence (Brennan, J.)

Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

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