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GIRARD v. WILSON

June 18, 1957

William S. GIRARD, United States Army Specialist 3/C, Petitioner,
v.
Charles E. WILSON, Secretary of Defense, John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, Wilbur M. Brucker, Secretary of the Army, General Maxwell D. Taylor, Head Joint Chiefs of Staff Department of Defense, Major General W. H. Maglin, Provost Marshal General United States Army, General Lyman Lemnitzer, Commanding General, Far East Command, Respondents



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCGARRAGHY

This is a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus and for other relief, filed by William S. Girard, United States Army Specialist Third Class, against the Secretary of Defense and others, in which he alleges that on or about January 30, 1957, he was arrested and thereafter held in confinement by the military authorities of the United States and is presently held in such confinement for the purpose of being delivered to the Government of Japan for trial for an alleged offense over which that Government has no jurisdiction, nor does it have jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner. He further alleges that his detention is illegal and in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States, as well as the treaty rights and obligations of the Government of the United States, and that the reasons for his detention and proposed delivery to the Japanese Government are invalid in law and in violation of fundamental constitutional and legal rights of petitioner.

The petitioner is a Specialist Third Class in the Regular Army of the United States, assigned to Company F, 8th Cavalry Regiment, at Camp Whittington, Honshu, Japan, having reenlisted while in Japan on October 28, 1954, for a period of three years.

 On January 30, 1957, an incident occurred while the petitioner was on a firing range known as Camp Weir Range in Japan, resulting in the death of a Japanese woman for which the American military authorities propose to deliver petitioner to the Japanese Government for trial.

 The incident is succinctly described in the certificate of the petitioner's commanding officer dated February 7, 1957, from which the following is quoted:

 '* * *, I certify that Girard, William S. RA 16 452 809, Specialist Third Class, Company F, 8th Cavalry Regiment, APO 201, was in the performance of his official duty at 1350 hours, 30 January 1957, Camp Weir Range Area, when he was involved in the following incident: On 30 January 1957, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, was engaged in routine training at Camp Weir Range Area. Company F was conducting blank firing exercises. Specialist Third Class William S. Girard was instructed by his platoon leader to move near a position near an unguarded machine gun to guard the machine gun and items of field equipment that were in the immediate area. Girard, following instructions, moved to the designated position near the machine gun. While performing his duties as guard, he fired an expended cartridge case, as a warning, which struck and killed Sakai, Naka, Kami-Shinden, Somamura, Gumma Prefecture, who had entered the range area for the purpose of gathering expended cartridge cases.'

 This certificate has never been withdrawn or modified in any respect.

 The Security Treaty between the United States of America and Japan which entered into force on April 28, 1952, provided by Article III thereof that:

 'The conditions which shall govern the disposition of armed forces of the United States of America in and about Japan shall be determined by administrative agreements between the two Governments.'

 Article XVII of the Administrative Agreement subsequently entered into between the Governments of the United States of America and Japan defines the offenses of which the countries have concurrent jurisdiction and exclusive jurisdiction, respectively.

 The Agreed Official Minutes regarding this provision in Paragraph 3 provide that where a member of the United States armed forces or the civilian component is charged with an offense, a certificate issued by or on behalf of his commanding officer stating that the alleged offense, if committed by him, arose out of an act or omission done in the performance of official duty, shall, in any judicial proceedings, be sufficient evidence of the fact unless the contrary is proved.

 It was pursuant to these Official Minutes that the certificate of the petitioner's commanding officer was issued dated February 7, 1957.

 The certificate by the commanding officer which was directed to the Chief Procurator, Maebashi District, Maebashi City, Honshu, Japan, continued by stating: 'The United States will exercise jurisdiction in this case unless notification is given immediately that proof to the contrary exists.'

 Thereafter, on February 9, 1957, the Chief Procurator notified the petitioner's commanding officer with reference to his certificate as to official duty that 'This office considers the proof contrary thereto exists, basing upon our examinations.'

 Following this exchange, there were discussions commencing in early March, 1957, by the representatives of the United States and representatives of Japan constituting a Joint U.S.-Japan Committee. On May 16, 1957, the United States representative on the Committee agreed that the United States would not exercise its asserted right of primary jurisdiction in this case. This action is said to have been taken in accordance with Paragraph 3(c) of Article XVII of the Administrative Agreement, which reads as follows:

 'If the State having the primary right decides not to exercise jurisdiction, it shall notify the authorities of the other State as soon as practicable. The authorities of the State having the primary right shall give sympathetic consideration to a request from the authorities of the other State for a waiver of its right in cases where that other State considers such waiver to be of particular importance.'

 Thereafter, on June 4, 1957, the Secretary of State of the United States and the Secretary of Defense of the United States who are named as two of the defendants in this action, issued a joint statement that they had carefully reviewed all of the available facts in this case, and have now concluded that the agreement that the petitioner be tried in the courts of Japan was reached in full accord with procedures established by the Treaty and Agreement, and that in order to preserve the integrity of the pledges of the United States, this determination by the Joint Committee must be carried out.

 This joint statement related the circumstances substantially the same as, but in more detail than, those contained in the certificate by the petitioner's commanding officer. The ...


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