Tulsa Professional Collection Services, Inc. v. Pope - Oral Argument - March 02, 1988

Tulsa Professional Collection Services, Inc. v. Pope

Media for Tulsa Professional Collection Services, Inc. v. Pope

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 19, 1988 in Tulsa Professional Collection Services, Inc. v. Pope

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 02, 1988 in Tulsa Professional Collection Services, Inc. v. Pope

William H. Rehnquist:

Mr. Rose, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Randall E. Rose:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The nature of the case to be presented in this argument involves a challenge to the constitutionality of certain Oklahoma statutes providing for notice by publication to creditors in a probate proceeding.

Section 331 of Title 58 of the Oklahoma Statutes sets forth that notice provision.

The sole notice provided is a notice by publication.

The Appellant, here and after referred to as TPCS, challenged the constitutionality of this statute for failing to provide a meaningful notice to creditors in the context of a probate proceeding that would afford due process as required by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Upon review of the facts in this case and an application of the Oklahoma statutory scheme, it will be clear that current Oklahoma law does not provide a meaningful notice.

It is our position that an analysis of the relevant decisions of this Court will require due process to be extended to known or reasonably ascertainable creditors.

It is further our position that contrary to assertions in various state supreme court decisions, that (1) a creditor's interest in a probate proceeding is a property right, (2)--

Harry A. Blackmun:

Mr. Rose, incidentally, did the decedent die in the hospital?

Randall E. Rose:

--Yes, he did, Your Honor.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Why weren't they then on some kind of notice that there was an estate probably to be probated?

Randall E. Rose:

Well, that--

Harry A. Blackmun:

They certainly knew her address.

Randall E. Rose:

--Yes, that's true, Your Honor.

That actually is the entire crux of this case.

It is undisputed and the statement of facts will have shown that the decedent died in the hospital, and we had notice obviously that he died.

The question is not whether we had notice that he died, but whether we had notice of the initiation of the probate proceeding and the publication of the notice to creditors to file their claims.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Was this a Tulsa hospital?

Randall E. Rose:

Yes, it was.

Harry A. Blackmun:

It is certainly a less sympathetic case than if your creditor were off in New York or somewhere.

Randall E. Rose:

It is not the ideal case to present the issue.

However, again, the question is not whether we had notice.

No one has denied, it has been readily admitted, it's a stipulated fact that we had notice that he died.

In Oklahoma, a probate case can be filed, Title 58, Section 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes provides that a probate case can be filed at any time after the death of the decedent.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Well, certainly, I've known of hospitals that routinely watch the legal notices in legal newspapers--

Randall E. Rose:

That's correct.

Harry A. Blackmun:

--or they go down and check the probate office and get their claim in.

Randall E. Rose:

That's correct.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Your hospital just sat by and let it go, even though the death was in Tulsa and even though the decedent was a Tulsa resident.