Givens v. Zerbst,
255 U.S. 11 (1921)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Givens v. Zerbst, 255 U.S. 11 (1921)

Givens v. Zerbst

No. 285

Argued October 13, 1920

Decided January 31, 1921

255 U.S. 11


1. The authority to convene a general court-martial may be conferred upon the commander of a military camp by an order of the President under the 8th Article of War, which provides that "the commanding officer of any district or of any force or body of troops" may appoint such courts-martial when empowered by the President. P. 255 U. S. 18.

2. A general order of the President lodging this power in the commander of designated military camps is judicially noticed as part of the law of the land, and the legality of a court-martial established under it is not affected by omission to refer to it in the order convening the court-martial. Id.

3. A general court-martial, so convened by a camp commander, has jurisdiction to try an officer of the rank of captain. P. 255 U. S. 19.

4. The judgment of a court-martial is open to collateral attack for want of jurisdiction, and, to sustain such a judgment, it must appear that the facts essential to the jurisdiction existed when the jurisdiction was exercised. Id.

5. Where the due convocation of a court-martial with jurisdiction to try offenses of the class in question is established on the face of its record, the existence of a particular fact not so shown, but acted upon by the court-martial and necessary to its jurisdiction over the particular case, may be proven in support of its judgment upon a collateral attack. P. 255 U. S. 20.

6. Held that evidence was admissible in a habeas corpus proceeding to prove the military status of the relator at the time of his trial and conviction where the record of the court-martial was silent on the subject beyond showing that he was charged as a captain in the army. Id.

7. Upon an appeal from a judgment in habeas corpus, evidence upon which the lower court's decision depended must be brought up in the record, though it need not be in the form of a bill of exceptions. Id.

8. In providing that "no person shall be tried by court-martial for

Page 255 U. S. 12

murder or rape committed within the geographical limits of the states of the Union and the District of Columbia in time of peace," the 92d Article of the Articles of War (1916), contemplates a complete peace, officially proclaimed. P. 255 U. S. 21. Kahn v. Anderson, ante, 255 U. S. 1.

9. An erroneous designation of the place for executing a sentence of imprisonment imposed by a court-martial does not go to the jurisdiction to sentence and does not entitle the accused to his discharge on habeas corpus, but he should be retained for a new designation. Id.

262 F. 702, affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 255 U. S. 16

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