Wade v. Hunter,
336 U.S. 684 (1949)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wade v. Hunter, 336 U.S. 684 (1949)

Wade v. Hunter

No. 427

Argued March 7, 1949

Decided April 25, 1949

336 U.S. 684


In petitioner's trial by a general court-martial of a Division of the Third Army, then advancing rapidly in Germany, the court heard evidence and arguments of counsel, closed to consider the case, reopened the same day, and continued the case in order to hear civilian witnesses not then available. Subsequently, the Commanding General of the Third Army transferred the case to the Fifteenth Army for a new trial on the ground that the tactical situation and the distance to the residence of such witnesses made it impracticable for the Third Army to conduct the court-martial. The Fifteenth Army convened a court-martial, which overruled petitioner's plea of former jeopardy and tried and convicted him.

Held: in the circumstances of this case, the double jeopardy provision of the Fifth Amendment did not bar his trial before the second court-martial. Pp. 336 U. S. 685-692.

1. The double jeopardy provision of the Fifth Amendment does not mean that every time a defendant is put to trial before a competent tribunal, he is entitled to go free if the trial fails to end in a final judgment. P. 336 U. S. 688.

2. A trial may be discontinued when particular circumstances manifest a necessity for so doing and when failure to discontinue would defeat the ends of justice. United States v. Perez, 9 Wheat. 579. Pp. 336 U. S. 689-690.

3. When this may be done without barring another trial depends upon all the circumstances of the particular case, and not upon the mechanical application of an abstract formula. P. 336 U. S. 691.

4. In this case, the record was sufficient to show that the tactical situation brought about by a rapidly advancing army resulted in withdrawal of the charges from the first court-martial, and, in the absence of charges of bad faith on the part of the Commanding General, courts should not attempt to review his on-the-spot decision that the tactical situation required transfer of the case. Pp. 336 U. S. 691-692.

169 F.2d 973 affirmed.

Page 336 U. S. 685

In a habeas corpus proceeding, a federal district court ordered petitioner's release on the ground that his conviction by court-martial had violated the double jeopardy provision of the Fifth Amendment. 72 F.Supp. 755. The Court of Appeals reversed. 169 F.2d 973. This Court granted certiorari. 335 U.S. 907. Affirmed, p. 336 U. S. 692.

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