WILSON V. GIRARD, 354 U. S. 524 (1957)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wilson v. Girard, 354 U.S. 524 (1957)

Wilson v. Girard

No. 1103

Argued July 8, 1957

Decided July 11, 1957*

354 U.S. 524


The United States and Japan became involved in a controversy as to whether an American soldier should be tried by a Japanese court for causing the death of a Japanese woman in Japan. While on duty guarding a machine gun on a firing range, he fired from a grenade launcher an empty cartridge case which struck the Japanese woman, causing her death. American authorities took the position that he was acting at the time "in performance of official duty," within the meaning of Paragraph 3 of Article XVII of an Administrative Agreement between the United States and Japan, as amended by a Protocol, and, therefore, the United States had the "primary right" to try him in a situation of concurrent jurisdiction. Japanese authorities contended that he was acting beyond the scope of official duty, and that therefore Japan had the "primary right" to exercise jurisdiction. After lengthy negotiations, and with the approval of the President, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense, the United States yielded to the Japanese position, and agreed, under a provision of the amended Administrative Agreement, to waive whatever jurisdiction it might have and deliver him to Japanese authorities for trial. Japan then indicted him for causing death by wounding. He sought a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, which denied the writ but granted declaratory relief and enjoined his delivery to Japanese authorities. This Court granted certiorari under 28 U.S. C. § 1254 (1).

Held: the judgment granting an injunction and declaratory relief is reversed; the judgment denying a writ of habeas corpus is affirmed. Pp. 354 U. S. 525-530.

1. In the light of the Senate's ratification of the Security Treaty between the United States and Japan after consideration of the accompanying Administrative Agreement, and the Senate's subsequent ratification of the NATO Agreement, with knowledge of the commitment to Japan under the Administrative Agreement to

Page 354 U. S. 525

enter into a similar arrangement, the approval of Article III of the Security Treaty authorized the making of the Administrative Agreement, and the subsequent Protocol embodying the provisions governing jurisdiction to try criminal offenses. Pp. 354 U. S. 526-529.

2. As applied here, there is no constitutional or statutory barrier to the provision of the Protocol under which the United States waived jurisdiction to try the soldier and agreed to deliver him to Japanese authorities for trial. Pp. 354 U. S. 529-530.

3. In the absence of encroachments upon constitutional or statutory limitations, the wisdom of the arrangement here involved is exclusively for the determination of the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Government. P. 354 U. S. 530.

152 F.Supp. 21, affirmed in part and reversed in part.

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