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FINLEY v. DREW

January 26, 1972

James T. FINLEY
v.
Captain John DREW, USN, Commanding Officer, et al.


Troutman, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: TROUTMAN

TROUTMAN, District Judge.

 Findings of Fact

 1. Petitioner, James Terry Finley ("Finley") enlisted in the United States Navy on February 22, 1968. At the time his petition for habeas corpus was filed, Finley was a hospital corpsman stationed at the United States Naval Base at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (N.T. 10)

 3. Finley was not a conscientious objector at the time of his enlistment in the United States Navy. However, he had strong personal reservations about the morality of war and killing. (N.T. 10; R-1)

 4. Subsequent to his enlistment Finley was assigned to train as a Hospital Corpsman, a job status he felt was compatible with his then-existing beliefs. (N.T. 10, 12)

 5. In October of 1968, Finley was assigned to Camp Lejeune for training as a field medic. During such training he came into contact with members of the United States Marines, many of whom had already served in Viet Nam. (N.T. 11-13)

 6. During conversations with many of these servicemen, petitioner's beliefs regarding the immorality of war and killing began to grow stronger, because he found that under the pressures of actual combat many of them "glorified in the killing of people". Realizing that he would be called upon to assist these men on the battlefield as a field medic, and that his work would enable many of them to resume fighting, Finley began to question whether he could continue to serve in the Navy without violating his fundamental religious and ethical beliefs. (N.T. 12-14)

 7. It was at this time that petitioner's belief as a conscientious objector began to crystallize. However, he was unaware that a procedure existed by which a conscientious objector discharge could be obtained, unless one was a member of a particular religious sect whose doctrine was opposed to war in any form. (N.T. 14)

 8. After the completion of training at Camp Lejeune, Finley was assigned to the Naval Hospital at the Philadelphia Naval Base where he served as a ward corpsman. (N.T. 14)

 9. When he began his duties at the Naval Hospital, Finley felt that such activity would not be inconsistent with his developing beliefs concerning the immorality of war and killing or assisting in the killing of human beings, since all but a few of his patients were amputees who were returning to civilian life after recuperating. (N.T. 15)

 10. In December of 1968, while Finley was on duty at the hospital, a young patient whom he had gotten to know personally died suddenly as the result of wounds received in battle in Viet Nam. This sudden and, to Finley, totally unnecessary death had a strong impact on him. The more he discussed this experience with family and friends, the more convinced he became that he could no longer serve in the armed forces. (N.T. 16-18; R-1)

 11. Still unaware that his beliefs made him eligible for a conscientious objector discharge, Finley decided to go to Canada to avoid compromising his beliefs by further service in the Navy. In May of 1969, while on leave, he did travel to Canada. (N.T. 18-19)

 12. Upon arriving there he contacted his father, James Finley, D.D.S., in Brownsville, Texas, and explained to him the religious and moral convictions which had led him to adopt that course of action. (N.T. 20)

 13. Finley's father was extremely upset about his son's actions and feared that his son was mentally unbalanced. He urged petitioner to return to Texas, and he agreed to do so. (N.T. 20-21)

 14. During his visit to Texas, petitioner, upon his father's initiative, was examined for approximately one hour by Dr. E.E. McClure, a general practitioner (whose practice, according to his letterhead, is limited to internal medicine), and for approximately forty-five minutes by Dr. John Miller, a psychiatrist practicing in Lubbock, Texas. Dr. McClure is a close friend of Finley's family. (N.T. 21-23)

 15. Petitioner related to Dr. McClure in some detail his moral and religious opposition to war and killing, but he found the doctor to be disinterested in his beliefs. (N.T. 24-25)

 16. Afterward, Dr. McClure reduced to writing his impressions of his meeting with Finley. His report was submitted to Dr. Finley accompanied by a letter from Dr. Miller which summarized the latter's meeting with Finley. (N.T. 23-25)

 17. Petitioner was not then given the opportunity to see the aforesaid letters, which contained statements to the effect that he had an abnormal fear of injury or mutilation, and which did not take into consideration petitioner's expressions of moral opposition to the war and to continued service in the armed forces. (N.T. 25-26)

 18. Shortly thereafter, at his father's urging, Finley returned to the Philadelphia Naval Station in order to undergo a psychiatric examination, which was conducted by ...


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