O'CALLAHAN V. PARKER, 395 U. S. 258 (1969)

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U.S. Supreme Court

O'Callahan v. Parker, 395 U.S. 258 (1969)

O'Callahan v. Parker

No. 646

Argued January 23, 1969

Decided June 2, 1969

395 U.S. 258


Petitioner, a United States Army sergeant, while on an evening pass from his army post in Hawaii and in civilian attire, broke into a hotel room, assaulted a girl, and attempted rape. Following his apprehension, city police, on learning that petitioner was in the Armed Forces, delivered him to the military police. After interrogation, petitioner confessed. He was charged with attempted rape, housebreaking, and assault with attempt to rape, in violation of Articles 80, 130, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, tried by a court-martial, convicted on all counts, and sentenced. His conviction was affirmed by the Army Board of Review, and thereafter by the United States Court of Military Appeals. Petitioner later filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the District Court claiming that the court-martial was without jurisdiction to try him for nonmilitary offenses committed off-post while on an evening pass. The District Court denied relief and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: A crime, to be under military jurisdiction, must be service-connected, and since petitioner's crimes were not, he could not be tried by court-martial, but was entitled to a civilian trial with the benefits of an indictment by a grand jury and trial by jury. Pp. 395 U. S. 261-274.

(a) Art. I, § 8, cl. 14, of the Constitution recognizes that military discipline requires military courts in which not all the procedural safeguards of Art. III trials need apply, and the Fifth Amendment exempts "cases arising in the land or naval forces or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger" from the requirement of prosecution by indictment and the right to trial by jury. See Ex parte Quirin, 317 U. S. 1, 317 U. S. 40. Pp. 395 U. S. 261-262.

(b) If the case does not arise "in the land or naval forces," the accused gets (1) the benefit of an indictment by a grand jury and (2) a trial by jury before a civilian court as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment and Art. III, § 2. P. 395 U. S. 262.

(c) A court-martial (which is tried in accordance with military traditions and procedures by a panel of officers empowered to act by two-thirds vote presided over by a military law officer) is not

Page 395 U. S. 259

an independent instrument of justice, but a specialized part of an overall system by which military discipline is preserved. Pp. 395 U. S. 263-265.

(d) A civilian trial is conducive to the protection of individual rights, while a military trial is marked by retributive justice. P. 395 U. S. 266.

(e) The fact that petitioner, at the time of his offense and of his court-martial, was a member of the Armed Forces does not necessarily mean that he was triable by court-martial. Pp. 395 U. S. 266-267.

(f) In England before the American Revolution, and in this country, military trials of soldiers for civilian offenses have been viewed with suspicion. Pp. 395 U. S. 268-271.

(g) To be under military jurisdiction, a crime must be service-connected, lest all members of the armed services be deprived of the benefits of grand jury indictment and jury trial. Pp. 395 U. S. 272-273.

(h) There was not even a remote connection between petitioner's crimes and his military duties, and the offenses were peacetime offenses, committed in American territory which did not involve military authority, security, or property. Pp. 395 U. S. 273-274.

390 F.2d 360, reversed.

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