Madsen v. Kinsella
343 U.S. 341 (1952)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Madsen v. Kinsella, 343 U.S. 341 (1952)

Madsen v. Kinsella

No. 411

Argued January 8, 1952

Decided April 28, 1952

343 U.S. 341


The United States Court of the Allied High Commission for Germany had jurisdiction, in 1950, to try petitioner, a civilian citizen of the United States who was the dependent wife of a member of the United States Armed Forces, on a charge of murdering her husband, in October, 1949, within the United States Area of Control in Germany, in violation of § 211 of the German Criminal Code. Pp. 343 U. S. 342-362.

1. Both United States courts-martial and United States Military Commissions or tribunals in the nature of such commissions had jurisdiction in Germany in 1949-1950 to try persons in the status of petitioner on the charge against her. Pp. 343 U. S. 345-355.

(a) The provisions added in 1916 by Articles 2 and 12 of the Articles of War, extending the jurisdiction of courts-martial over civilian offenders and over certain nonmilitary offenses, did not deprive military commissions and other military tribunals of whatever jurisdiction they then had over such offenders and offenses, since that concurrent jurisdiction was preserved to such commissions and tribunals by Article 15. Pp. 343 U. S. 350-355.

2. The United States Courts of the Allied High Commission for Germany were, at the time of the trial of petitioner's case, tribunals in the nature of military commissions conforming to the Constitution and laws of the United States. Pp. 343 U. S. 356-360.

(a) The fact that the occupation statute took effect prior to the date of the crime did not vitiate the constitutional authority for petitioner's trial by military commission. P. 343 U. S. 360.

3. Petitioner and the offense charged against her came within the jurisdiction assigned to the court which tried her. Pp. 343 U. S. 360-362.

(a) Military Government Ordinance No. 31 expressly gave to the occupation courts jurisdiction over civilian men and women who were subject to military law, and petitioner was a "person subject to military law" within the definition of Article of War 2(d). Pp. 343 U. S. 360-361.

(b) The requirement of Article 7 of Military Government Ordinance No. 31, that no person subject to military law shall be

Page 343 U. S. 342

brought to trial for any offense "except upon authorization of the Commander-in-Chief, European Command," was satisfied in this case. P. 343 U. S. 361.

(c) The German Criminal Code was applicable to petitioner's offense by virtue of its express adoption by the United States Military Government. Pp. 343 U. S. 361-362.

(d) The United States expressly required that its civilians be tried by its occupation courts, rather than by the German courts. P. 343 U. S. 362.

4. The jurisdiction of the United States Courts of the Allied High Commission for Germany to try petitioner being established, the judgment of the Court of Appeals affirming the discharge of the writ of habeas corpus for petitioner's release from custody is affirmed. P. 343 U. S. 362.

188 F.2d 272 affirmed.

In a habeas corpus proceeding seeking petitioner's release from federal custody, the District Court discharged the writ and remanded petitioner to the custody of respondent. 93 F.Supp. 319. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 188 F.2d 272. This Court granted certiorari. 342 U.S. 865. Affirmed, p. 343 U. S. 362.

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