Lee v. Madigan

LOCATION: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

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

CITATION: 358 US 228 (1959)
ARGUED: Dec 09, 1958 / Dec 10, 1958
DECIDED: Jan 12, 1959

Facts of the case


Media for Lee v. Madigan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 09, 1958 in Lee v. Madigan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 10, 1958 in Lee v. Madigan

Earl Warren:

Number 42, John Lee, Petitioner, versus Paul J. Madigan.

Mr. Davis, you may continue.

John F . Davis:

Mr. Chief Justice, if the Court please.

I shall turn my attention now to the issue with respect to the jurisdiction of courts-martial.

All the soldiers who have been adjudged guilty by previous court-martials dishonorably discharged and imprisoned and who commit offenses while they are in the custody of the Army in the disciplinary barracks.

Now, this issue is purely constitutional.

No argument has been advanced that the Article of War, which is presently involved, number -- Article 2 (e) of the 1920 articles does not specifically and intentionally apply to this petitioner.

There is no -- there is no doubt the Congress intended to give the military the power to exercise court-martial jurisdiction of this type of prisoner.

The only question is whether or not it constitutionally could give the Army this power.

Not only does the present article clearly attempt to give jurisdiction to the court-martials but this has been so for a good many years.

The first provision providing for this type of jurisdiction was in 1863 when the first military prisons were established.

It's present in the Uniform Code, the present Uniform Code which is in effect today with respect to all of the armed forces.

The same type of jurisdiction is -- is given to courts-martial if it can be given.

When the -- when the Army discontinued, and I don't know why, but when they discontinued their -- their prisons and began to send the men who are under the court-martials sentence back to the guardhouses back in 1898, the Secretary of War wrote a letter to Congress saying that this terminated the jurisdiction which the Army had previously had which was particularized with respect to army prisons and that he felt the Congress should enact legislation to give the Army general jurisdiction of discharged soldiers while they were still in custody whether in prisons or in guardhouses or anywhere else within the Army's jurisdiction.

He said that it was difficult to maintain discipline unless the Army had authority to enlarge the sentences through court-martial of prisoners who were subject to their control, and it was then that the Congress enacted the Code of 1898 which provided that, and I quote, it's on page 30 of our brief, the first general provision in the court -- in the Articles of War dealing with this question of jurisdiction and it said, "Soldiers sentenced by court-martial to dishonorable discharged and confinement shall, until discharged from such confinement, remain subject to the Articles of War and other laws relating to the administration of military justice."

And this law remained on the books in this form and go, I think it was 1916 when the Congress enacted the same provision in its present form which provide simply that it shall extend to -- the military jurisdiction shall extend to "all persons under sentence adjudged by courts-martial".

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, do you mean that might apply even if you're confined to a (Inaudible) because that's not the case here.

John F . Davis:

That's not the case.

This language doesn't -- I -- it would be a different case and this language would seem to include it but I'm not sure about what the legislative history behind it and what's happened second.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, now, how -- how was it -- is it Lee now confined at Alcatraz?

John F . Davis:

He is now confined in -- in Alcatraz.

And under the present Articles of War, Uniform Code, he would not be subject to military jurisdiction because the present article say under -- under -- and I don't quote exactly but they feel with confinement by the military authorities themselves.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

There is no question that at the time of this offense -- Camp Cooke, is that what it was?

John F . Davis:

The Camp Cooke.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

That was exclusively military.

John F . Davis:

That's right.

It was run by the military.

It was --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, the army only or --

John F . Davis:

It was army only.