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EX PARTE SMITH

August 7, 1947

Ex parte SMITH


The opinion of the court was delivered by: FOLLMER

This habeas corpus proceeding is instituted by Bernard W. Smith, a military prisoner at the United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, who was convicted by a General Court-Martial on two charges involving violations of the 92nd and 93rd Articles of War, 10 U.S.C.A. §§ 1564, 1565. *fn1" The first charge involved the carnal knowledge of one Sheila Winifred Dale, a British girl, 20 years of age, on July 11, 1944; the second charge involved an assault with intent to commit rape upon one Miriam Florence Cullum, a British girl, 19 years of age, on the same date and within a period of less than one-half hour prior to the offense set forth in the first charge, both violations occurring in the same general vicinity on what is known as Ipswich-Manning Tree Road, Lawford, Essex, England

Petitioner has alleged numerous errors which he seeks to set up as denials of due process. All the matters raised by him may be summarized in four basic contentions as follows:

 1. That the trial court under the evidence should have found him 'not guilty'.

 2. Incompetency of Counsel.

 3. That the pre-trial investigation under Article of War 70, 10 U.S.C.A. § 1542, was conducted in such a manner as to deprive the General Court-Martial of jurisdiction of the petitioner.

 4. That matters occurring in the course of the trial including the improper admission of evidence and the unexplained absence of a witness deprived the Court of jurisdiction and rendered his conviction void.

 Counsel for the petitioner sought in this proceeding to review the entire testimony had before the trial court, to point out discrepancies between the testimony of witnesses for the prosecution and the defense and (on the basis of his contention that the trial court should have believed all of the witnesses for the defense and not the witnesses for the prosecution) now contends that the trial court erred in finding the petitioner Smith guilty. There was no proof of any deliberate deception or suppression of evidence by the prosecution. Smith's position here is that the prosecution witnesses should have been disbelieved, that his witnesses as to alibi should all have been believed and that on that basis he should have been acquitted and that this Court should now hold that the prosecution's witnesses were not telling the truth.

 Whether or not a witness in the trial of a case committed perjury is not in and of itself the basis for habeas corpus. *fn2" It was for the trial court to decide whether it would believe or disbelieve certain testimony and to determine what weight it would give to any portion of the evidence. It is not the function of this Court in a habeas corpus proceeding to reevaluate the evidence from the cold record, without the benefit of seeing and hearing the witnesses, and to decide whether or not it would have disagreed with the findings of the trial court. The Supreme Court has always recognized that this is not a function of the Court in a habeas corpus proceeding and only recently in connection with a habeas corpus involving a military trial has reaffirmed this principle. *fn3"

  However, by reason of the other matters raised by petitioner, we have carefully reviewed the entire Court-Martial record. Miriam Cullum testified to facts which showed a rather brutal assault with the expressed intention of committing rape. Its culmination was only prevented by the timely arrival of one Carter, a British Corporal, and a civilian. They found her on the ground, crying, and in a shaken nervous condition. Her legs were bruised and her neck was bruised and swollen for several days. The time was fixed at approximately 11:00 o'clock p.m. Shelia Dale, the other victim, testified to being dragged and thrown to the ground and attacked. She arrived home in a hysterical condition. An American soldier who was visiting in a nearby house, was called and testified to her condition, that her blouse was open, and that there were dirt marks on her clothing. There was medical testimony that her right thigh, left arm and left knee were bruised. Each girl, independently, and without any information from the other, gave descriptions of their attacker, which tallied closely with Smith's appearance. At a line-up of 20 soldiers a week or so later each girl was separately taken from a room to walk past the line-up and without any assistance from the other, immediately and unhesitatingly pointed out Smith as the attacker. They again positively identified him at the trial. The last attack occurred about five miles from the Post. The time of the attack was necessarily an approximation and estimated as being around 11:30 to 11:45 o'clock p.m. The defense was an alibi that Smith had reached the Post at 11:30 o'clock p.m. But the testimony of his witnesses as to time also consisted of approximations which may be best exemplified by that of a soldier named Partyka who was joined by Smith on the way back to the Post. He had been at various 'pubs', the last one being the 'Bucks Horn', 'loafing around and drinking' *fn4" and was 'feeling high'. *fn5" On direct examination he testified that he was there until 10:00 o'clock drinking beer with a few girls, then went on his cycle with one of the girls to the first bridge, and stayed about 15 to 20 minutes and then went home. Also as to the time of leaving he stated 'It was a little after 10 because I took a little time finishing my beer.' That he life this girl 'about 25 after 10' and 'Then I was on my way home and then met up with Smith' on his cycle about three quarters of a mile farther on. They stopped on the way and had a smoke 'about five minutes' and reached the gate 'near 11:30'. He also stated that he met Smith 'about 25 minutes after 10', then after being reminded of the three quarters of a mile traveled after leaving the girl he estimated the time at 'about a quarter to 11.' On cross-examination he estimated the time with the girl at 'about 20 minutes' and that it could have been longer and finally, that it could have been close to midnight when he reached the Post. On examination by the Court he fixed the time of getting his last beer at 10:00 o'clock because the woman at the 'Bucks Horn' called 'Time.' He admitted he did not look at a clock, and also that he did not know whether this particular 'pub' closed at 10 or 10:30. Significant was his statement that Smith told him ' * * * he had a girl that night', although Smith in his testimony said he had visited a number of 'pubs', that he was drinking, but made no mention whatsoever of being with a girl

 Of Partyka's testimony Counsel for petitioner naively comments, 'He met the petitioner on the way back to camp that night at 10:45; at that time he was bicycling up the hill; Partyka caught up with him and rode into camp with him. Other than a short stop for a smoke they continued to the camp without stopping and came in Gate 2 and reached that gate at 11:30' *fn6" and states further, 'We find Smith's entrance into camp, at about 11:30 corroborated by Partyka, * * * .'

 Certainly, there are few records which when searched with a fine tooth comb will not yield some debatable rulings of law or admission of evidence and if this could be done in habeas corpus there would be no end to litigation and the time of the courts would be occupied in useless and futile speculation. The pronouncement of the Supreme Court in Glasgow v. Moyer, 225 U.S. 420, 429, 32 S. Ct. 753, 756, 56 L. Ed. 1147, that ' * * * The principle of the cases is the simple one that if a court has jurisdiction of the case, the writ of habeas corpus cannot be employed to retry this issues, whether of law, constitutional or other, or of fact', is still a salutary rule. Certainly here the eight members of the trial court with the benefit of observation of the witnesses were in a better position than this court to arrive at the correct result. Moreover, on the record before us, there would be no inclination to disagree with the verdict at which they arrived. The trial record shows a careful impartial trial, and the Board of Review made an exhaustive and careful study of both the law and the facts of the trial.

 We are next concerned with the usual allegation of competency of assigned counsel, the petitioner alleging that he did not have adequate representation. Military Law is due process of law to those in the military or naval service *fn7" and for proceedings before Courts-Martial a commissioned officer is competent counsel. *fn8"

 The special orders dated August 9, 1944, designating the members of the court in petitioner's case also appointed for him a defense counsel and assistant defense counsel. *fn9"

 In addition thereto, the Record *fn10" shows that Smith was given an opportunity to introduce civil or military counsel of his own selection and accordingly did introduce as Associate Counsel one 2nd Lt. Harry Lieberman, although electing to also retain the services of the appointed Defense Counsel and Assistant Defense Counsel. *fn11" Lieberman, the selected counsel, was a law school graduate with 10 years experience in the practice of law. *fn12" The appointed Assistant Counsel was ' * * * a graduate of Notre Dame Law School and admitted to practice in Washington.' *fn13" Whether or not the other appointed Counsel was an attorney does not appear. Whether any of the specific guarantees of the 5th and 6th amendments relating to criminal prosecutions apply to petitioner in military trial *fn14" need not be decided here since the remaining questions may be fully disposed of, giving the petitioner the benefit of the principles as applied to criminal prosecution in the Civil Courts. That he had counsel of his own choosing might well dispose of this question, but the reflection cast upon counsel, including appointed counsel calls for consideration. The burden of proving such incompetency is upon petitioner. *fn15" He has introduced no evidence other than the trial record and his own lay conclusion. Even had the record shown carelessness of counsel or a failure of counsel to object to the introduction of evidence, or errors in their advice, it would not rise to that plane where it would constitute a ground for habeas corpus. *fn16" Nor does the Constitution guarantee the assistance of ...


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