Jackson v. Taylor

LOCATION: California State Capitol

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 353 US 569 (1957)
ARGUED: Apr 30, 1957
DECIDED: Jun 03, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for Jackson v. Taylor

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 30, 1957 in Jackson v. Taylor

Earl Warren:

Number 619, Chester E.Jackson, Petitioner versus John C. Taylor, Acting Warden in United States Penitentiary.

And Number 620, Harriel L. Fowler, Petitioner versus Frederick H. Wilkinson, Warden in the United States Penitentiary, Atlanta, Georgia.

Mr. Van Susteren.

Urban P. Van Susteren:

May it please the Court.

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

The case originally arose as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus directed to the warden as a Lewisburg Penitentiary that petition for writ of habeas corpus was brought before the District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

On May 7, 1956, the Board -- the Court of Appeals announced its decision refusing to grant the writ of habeas corpus and free the prisoner, and this Court has granted certiorari.

The fact of the case of brief is this.

Petitioner Jackson and the another soldier, named Fowler, who is the petitioner under case Number 620, together with another soldier named De Coster were brought to trial before a court-martial was convened in Korea on June 8, 1951.

There, they were charged in with two counts.

First, premeditated murder and second, rape.

The Court found the defendant, all three of them in a joint trial, guilty of murder and not guilty of rape but guilty of attempted rape.

Thereupon, the Law Officer of the Court advised the Court that the minimum sentence was life imprisonment and the maximum sentence was death.

We have no quarrel with the fact that the instruction is given to those outside of the directions contained in the manual for court-martial.

It is only incidentally of some importance.

The Court picked the sentence, life imprisonment.

There was no sentence, separate sentence of any kind for the attempted rape.

It was just the one gross sentence.

Thereafter, the sentence was and the findings of guilty were reviewed by the Commanding General for Korean area, a proper person and they were approved in full sentence and the findings of guilty.

And thereafter, a routine vastly came before the Board of Review in the Office of the -- the Judge Advocate General of the Army.

The Board of Review found that the record failed to show any evidence that the activities that these three soldiers was in any way connected with the death of the woman.

And thereupon, it held that the murder charge should be set aside, but the attempted rape charged for conviction was sustained.

But instead of setting aside the entire penalty, in ordering a new trial, the Board of Review conceived its authority or its proper function to be that it should make then and there an initial determination of what the sentence should be.

The opinion as it is written, indicates that that Board of Review felt that it should determine what is an appropriate sentence, but in the order part of the -- of the decision, it says that the sentence -- that so much of the sentence had exceeds 20 years, which is the maximum for attempted rape shall be set aside or take that so much of the life imprisonment sentence as it exceeds 20 years is excessive and shall be set aside and the other 20 years shall be affirmed.

Felix Frankfurter:

Do I understand your only complaint is regarding the -- the impropriety of the sentence?

Is that right?

Urban P. Van Susteren:

The -- the -- quite that, sir.

The complaint is that the Board of Review had no authority or power to make that sentence.

It was limited to authority to return it for rehearing under these circumstances.

Felix Frankfurter:

A rehearing of what?