Gonzales v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Superior Court of Bibb County

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 364 US 59 (1960)
ARGUED: May 02, 1960
DECIDED: Jun 27, 1960

Facts of the case


Media for Gonzales v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 02, 1960 (Part 2) in Gonzales v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 02, 1960 (Part 1) in Gonzales v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 416, Raymond Gonzales, Jr., Petitioner, versus United States.

Mr. Covington.

Hayden C. Covington:

May it please you, Mr. Chief Justice, and the other gentlemen of the Court.

The writ of certiorari in this case brings here for review a decision of United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit confirming a judgment of the District Court of Colorado convicting the petitioner in this case for a violation of Universal Military Training and Service Act.

We present to the Court by the petition for substantial questions.

First is whether or not the petitioner was denied procedural due process of law by the Department of Justice making use of a memorandum of the local board that was made without any notice or knowledge to the petitioner that he had, upon the occasion of his personal appearance before the Board, exaggerated his ministerial activity when, as a matter of fact, he had discontinued full-time ministry therefore and he had no notice of this until effort was too late, namely, when the recommendation got into the Board of Appeal.

He had the opportunity to answer for the first time and then the Department of Justice had already formed this position against him.

The second question is whether or not he was denied procedural due process of law before the Appeal Board by the withholding of the report of the hearing by the hearing officer of the Department of Justice.

We have two additional questions that are procedural and if -- it would be reached if the Court does not decide the first two in our favor, namely, whether or not the District Court denied procedural due process of law and disallowing the request of the petitioner by subpoena duces tecum to command the production of the hearing officer's report which was for the purpose of establishing that he had been denied procedural due process of law before the Appeal Board in several respects and the withholding of the hearing officer's report, and then, also the quashing of the subpoena duces tecum commanding the production of the FBI reports which had been summarized by the Department of Justice and forward it to the Appeal Board.

This petitioner registered -- registered with his local board in the Southern Colorado and -- at the time so that he was the minister of Jehovah's Witnesses and the conscientious objector.

At that time, he was engaged full-time in a big sugar business working secularly.

And also, he was a full-time minister, a pioneer in the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses having been certified as such by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

He showed these facts to the local board and the local board denied both the ministerial exemption and the conscientious objector classification.

The case then proceeded on appeal to the Board of Appeal where there was a hearing before appealed decision and hearing in the Department of Justice.

In the interim, he had discontinued his full-time ministry and the résumé of the Department of Justice inquire had showed that he had discontinued his ministerial activity full-time according to the report of an interview with an officer of the Watchtower Society, the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses in Brooklyn.

The Appeal Board denied the classification of conscientious objector, and he was ordered prosecuted but because of decisions of this Court, the case in Sicurella against the United States, the first recommendation of the Department of Justice was considered to be illegal.

And then, the case was reopened and reprocessed according to local board memoranda.

Then it becomes -- the very crucial and vital question in this case arises on the second process.

He had his classification of one and then he requested a personal appearance and hearing before the Board which was granted on August the 17th, 1956.

According to the undisputed evidence, the testimony I'm talking about now, and in this connection, I'd like to call the Court's attention that the Government did not call any board member, did not call the clerk of the Board but continued itself merely with the subpoenaing of the custodian of the records of the selective service system for the entire State of Colorado, Mr. (Inaudible), the Deputy Director.

The testimony shows that Gonzales, when he was before the local board, offered to prove that he was a minister notwithstanding the fact that he had discontinued the full-time ministry, but he never got around to the point of giving any evidence, whatever, for the purposes for which he want therefore, namely, because when he appeared there, the Board told him that they had already considered this matter and have their minds made up and the case was going to the Board of Appeal.

So, he got no opportunity to talk.

Then he was -- and in fact, driven out of the Board according to his testimony which was not disputed.

And the case on that day, that very day of hearing was forwarded to the Board of Appeal and here, it's significant to note that nowhere in this draft board file is there a written notice of appeal that the Government talks about him having a right to file supplement to it setting forth arguments and facts that he felt the Board had overruled.

But on the very day, and I call your attention to a paper that's not printed but which appears in the Exhibit 1, the Government's exhibit at page 42 in longhand, at the lower right hand corner of the Exhibit 1 there is called an individual appeal record.

Now, the record in this case has printed the questionnaire which has the minutes on page 136.

But that -- those minutes are not complete and they do not show everything that happened in this case, namely, the date that this case was forwarded to the Board of Appeal, August the 17th, 1956.

It's usually the regular procedure of draft boards to allow several days for a registrant to file some sort of a written statement before the papers go out.

But since they told him that he could appeal orally, and he did so appeal when he had no opportunity to complete his testimony before them are offered when he went there to prove, there was no chance for him to file any statement on appeal and also, there was no chance for him to make any complaint about this memoranda of August the 17th of 1956 that we complain about where they take up and copy a letter that was written to the Board back in three or four years earlier when he was a full-time pioneer and make it appear that he had been given a full hearing on the ministry that day and that's set forth on page 7 in my brief, in Footnote 5.

It's identical in every respect.