Whelchel v. McDonald
340 U.S. 122 (1950)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Whelchel v. McDonald, 340 U.S. 122 (1950)

Whelchel v. McDonald

No. 109

Argued November 10, 1950

Decided December 4, 1950

340 U.S. 122

Syllabus

Petitioner, while on active duty with the United States Army in Germany, was convicted of rape by a general court-martial. He applied to the Federal District Court for a writ of habeas corpus, challenging the legality of his detention under the sentence, on the ground that he was insane at the time of the offense.

Held: the military tribunal that tried petitioner was not deprived of jurisdiction by the manner in which the insanity issue was dealt with, and habeas corpus was therefore not an available remedy. Pp. 340 U. S. 123-127.

1. Under the law governing court-martial procedure, there must be afforded a defendant at some point of time an opportunity to tender the issue of insanity, and petitioner was afforded that opportunity. P. 340 U. S. 124.

2. Any error that may be committed by the military authorities in evaluating the evidence tendered is beyond the reach of review by the civil courts. P. 340 U. S. 124.

3. The fact that the law member of the court-martial was not named from the Judge Advocate General's Department does not establish a gross abuse of discretion in the absence of a showing of the availability of an officer of the Department. P. 340 U. S. 126.

4. The provision of Article 4 of the revised Articles of War, whereby an accused may request that enlisted men be included on the court-martial, was not yet in effect when petitioner was tried, and the fact that he was tried by a court-martial composed wholly of officers does not raise a question which goes to jurisdiction. Pp. 340 U. S. 126-127.

5. The right to trial by jury guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment is not applicable to trials by courts-martial or military commissions. P. 340 U. S. 127.

178 F.2d 760, affirmed.

In a habeas corpus proceeding to secure petitioner's release from imprisonment under a sentence of a general court-martial, the District Court dismissed the petition

Page 340 U. S. 123

and remanded petitioner to custody. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 176 F.2d 260, 178 F.2d 760. This Court granted certiorari. 339 U.S. 977. Affirmed, p. 340 U. S. 127.

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