DOCKET NO.: 74-175
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
CITATION: 425 US 25 (1976)
REARGUED: Nov 05, 1975
DECIDED: Mar 24, 1976
ARGUED: Jan 22, 1975
Harvey M. Stone –
Nathan R. Zahm –
Media for Middendorf v. Henry
- Opinion Announcement – March 24, 1976
- Oral Argument – January 22, 1975
- Oral Reargument – November 05, 1975
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – March 24, 1976 in Middendorf v. Henry
Warren E. Burger:
The judgment and opinion of the Court in No. 74-175, Secretary of the Navy against Henry and 74-5176, Henry against the Secretary of the Navy will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.
William H. Rehnquist:
The question in these cases which come to us from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is whether there is a right to counsel in summary court-martial proceedings in the armed forces.
We conclude that neither the Sixth Amendment nor Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment required counsel in such proceedings.
In this case most of the plaintiffs were charged with unauthorized absences and were tried with their consent and convected by Navy summary courts-martial.
They brought this class action in District Court challenging the authority of the armed services to try them at summary courts-martial without counsel.
The District Court ruled in their favor.
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the District Court’s judgment and remanded for reconsideration in the light of its decision in an earlier case in which it had held that though there was no Sixth Amendment right to counsel in summary court-martial proceedings, there was, in certain cases, a right under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
We agree that there is no Sixth Amendment right to counsel, because summary courts-martial proceeding is not a criminal prosecution, as that term is used in the Sixth Amendment.
It is a facet of military discipline with limited penalties for charges which frequently have no common law counterpart.
Furthermore, unlike a civilian trail, it is not like an adversary proceeding where counsel is required to counter an opposing advocate.
We also hold that the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment imposes no requirement of counsel in such proceedings.
Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on the appeal of the plaintiffs is affirmed and the appeal of the federal parties is reversed.
Mr. Justice Powell has filed a concurring opinion in which Mr. Justice Blackmun joins.
Mr. Justice Stewart has filed a dissenting statement.
Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Brennan joins.
Mr. Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration or the decision of these cases.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you, Mr. Justice Rehnquist.