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GONZALES v. UNITED STATES

decided: June 27, 1960.

GONZALES
v.
UNITED STATES



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT.

Warren, Black, Frankfurter, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Whittaker, Stewart

Author: Clark

[ 364 U.S. Page 60]

 MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a prosecution for refusal to be inducted into the armed services, in violation of the provisions of the Universal Military Training and Service Act, 62 Stat. 604, 622, 50 U. S. C. App. ยง 462 (a). Petitioner, who claims to be a conscientious objector, contends that he was denied due process, both in the proceedings before a hearing officer of the Department of Justice and at trial. He says that he was not permitted to rebut before the hearing officer statements attributed to him by the local board, and, further, that he was denied at trial the right to have the Department of Justice hearing officer's report and the original report of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as to his claim -- all in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The trial judge decided that the administrative procedures of the Act were fully complied with and refused to require the production of such documents. Petitioner was found guilty and sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 269 F.2d 613. We granted certiorari in view of the importance of the questions in the administration of the Act. 361 U.S. 899. We have concluded that petitioner's claims are controlled by the rationale of Gonzales v. United States, 348 U.S. 407 (1955), and United States v. Nugent, 346 U.S. 1 (1953), and therefore affirm the judgment.

Petitioner registered with Local Board No. 9, Boulder, Colorado, on March 17, 1952. His answers to the classification questionnaire reflected that he was a minister of Jehovah's Witnesses, employed at night by a sugar producer. He claimed IV-D classification as a minister of religion, devoting a minimum of 100 hours a month to

[ 364 U.S. Page 61]

     preaching. On November 13, 1952, he was classified in Class I-A. On November 22, 1952, he wrote the Board, protesting this classification. He again stated that he was "a regular minister"; that he was "devoting an average of 100 hours a month to actual preaching publicly," in addition to 50 to 75 hours in other ministerial duties, and that he opposed war in any form. Thereafter he was classified I-O. On April 1, 1953, after some six months of full-time "pioneering," petitioner discontinued devoting 100 hours a month to preaching, but failed to so notify his local board. In a periodic review, the local board on July 30, 1953, reclassified him I-A and upheld this classification after a personal appearance by petitioner, because of his willingness to kill in defense of his church and home. Upon administrative approval of the reclassification, he was ordered to report for induction on June 11, 1956, but failed to do so. He was not prosecuted, however, and his case was subsequently reopened, in the light of Sicurella v. United States, 348 U.S. 385 (1955). He was again reclassified I-A by the local board. There followed a customary Department of Justice hearing, at which petitioner appeared. In his report to the Attorney General, the hearing officer suggested that the petitioner be exempt only from combatant training and service. On March 21, 1957, however, the Department recommended approval of the I-A classification. Its ground for this recommendation was that, while petitioner claimed before the local board on August 17, 1956 (as evidenced by its memorandum in his file of that date), that he was devoting 100 hours per month to actual preaching, the headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses reported that he was no longer doing so and, on the contrary, had relinquished both his Pioneer and Bible Student Servant positions. It reported that he now devoted only some 6 1/2 hours per month to public preaching and from 20 to 25 hours per month to church activities. His claim was therefore "so

[ 364 U.S. Page 62]

     highly exaggerated," the Department concluded, that it "cast doubt upon his veracity and, consequently, upon his sincerity and good faith." The appeal board furnished petitioner a copy of the recommendation. In his answer thereto, he advised the Board that he had made no such statement in 1956, and asserted that his only claim to "pioneering" was in 1952. The appeal board, however, unanimously concurred in the Department's recommendation. Upon return of the file to the local board, petitioner was again ordered to report for induction and this prosecution followed his failure to do so.

Petitioner first contends that the Department denied him procedural due process by not giving him timely opportunity, before its final recommendation to the appeal board, to answer the statement of the local board as to his claim of devoting 100 hours to actual preaching. But the statement of the local board attributing this claim to petitioner was in his file. He admitted that he knew it was open to him at all times, and he could have rebutted it before the hearing officer. This he failed to do, asserting that he did not know it to be in his file. Apparently he never took the trouble to find out. Nevertheless he had ample opportunity to contest the statement before the appeal board. After the recommendation of the Department is forwarded to the appeal board, that is the appropriate place for a registrant to lodge his denial. This he did. We found in Gonzales v. United States, supra, that this was the controlling reason why copies of the recommendation should be furnished a registrant. We said there that it was necessary "that a registrant be given an opportunity to rebut [the Department's] recommendation when it comes to the Appeal Board, the agency with the ultimate responsibility for classification." 348 U.S., at 412. We fail to see how such procedure resulted in any prejudice to petitioner's contention, which was considered by the appeal board and denied by it. As was

[ 364 U.S. Page 63]

     said in Gonzales, "it is the Appeal Board which renders the selective service determination considered 'final' in the courts, not to be overturned unless there is no basis in fact. Estep v. United States, 327 U.S. 114." 348 U.S., at 412-413.

But there are other contentions which might be considered more difficult. At his trial, petitioner sought to secure through subpoena duces tecum the longhand notes of the Department's hearing officer, Evensen, as well as his report thereon. Petitioner also claimed at trial the right to inspect the original Federal Bureau of Investigation reports to the Department of Justice. He alleged no specific procedural errors or evidence withheld; nor did he elaborate just what favorable evidence the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports might disclose.

Section 6 (j) of the Act, as we have held, does require the Department's recommendation to be placed in a registrant's file. Gonzales v. United States, supra. But there is nothing in the Act requiring the hearing officer's report to be likewise turned over to the registrant. While the regulations formerly required that the hearing officer's report be placed in the registrant's file, this requirement was eliminated in 1952. Moreover, the hearing officer's report is but intradepartmental, is directed to the Attorney General and, of course, is not the recommendation of the Department. It is not essentially different from a memorandum of an attorney in the Department of Justice, of which the Attorney General receives many, and to which he may give his approval or rejection. It is but part of the whole process within the Department that goes into the making of the final recommendation to the appeal board.

It is also significant that neither this report nor the hearing officer's notes were furnished to the appeal board. Hence the petitioner had full opportunity to traverse the only conclusions of the Department on file with

[ 364 U.S. Page 64]

     the Board. Petitioner knew that the Department's recommendation was based not on the hearing officer's report but on the statement of the local board in his file. Having had every opportunity to rebut the finding of the local board before both the hearing officer and the appeal board, petitioner cannot now claim that he was denied due process because he did not succeed.*fn1

It appears to us that the same reasoning applies to the production of the hearing officer's report and notes at the trial. In addition, petitioner has failed to show any particular need for the report and notes. While there are now allegations of the withholding of "favorable evidence developed at the hearing" and a denial of a "full and fair hearing," no such claim was made by petitioner at any stage of the administrative process. Moreover, his testimony at trial never developed any such facts. In the light of these circumstances, as well as the fact that the issue at trial in this respect centered entirely on the Department's recommendation, which ...


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