Jackson v. Taylor,
353 U.S. 569 (1957)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Jackson v. Taylor, 353 U.S. 569 (1957)

Jackson v. Taylor

No. 619

Argued April 30, 1957

Decided June 3, 1957

353 U.S. 569


A general court-martial found a soldier guilty of the separate offenses of premeditated murder and attempted rape and, in accordance with the usual practice, gave him an aggregate sentence of life imprisonment for both offenses. The Army Board of Review set aside the conviction on the murder charge, but it sustained the conviction for attempted rape and reduced the sentence to 20 years' imprisonment, which is the maximum sentence for attempted rape. In a habeas corpus proceeding, the soldier challenged the validity of the reduced sentence.

Held: the action of the Board of Review in modifying the sentence to 20 years' imprisonment was authorized by Article 66(c) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and it is sustained. Pp. 353 U. S. 570-580.

(a) A different result is not required by the facts that the law officer of the court-martial advised the court-martial that, in view of the finding on the murder charge, it had only two alternatives -- a death sentence or life imprisonment -- and that he made no reference to punishment for attempted rape, the maximum for which is 20 years. Pp. 353 U. S. 573-574.

(b) The Board of Review had authority under Article 66(c) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice to modify the life sentence to 20 years after the murder conviction was set aside. Pp. 353 U. S. 574-577.

(c) In view of the gross sentence practice required in court-martial proceedings and the power vested by law in the Board of Review to correct such a sentence, the Board's action cannot be set aside on the conjecture that the court-martial might have imposed less than the maximum sentence for attempted rape had it considered that offense separately. Pp. 353 U. S. 577-579.

(d) The case should not be remanded for a rehearing before the court-martial on the question of sentence, since there is no specific authority for doing so under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and Congress intended that the Board of Review should exercise this power. P. 353 U. S. 579.

(e) Nor should the case be remanded for rehearing before a new court-martial, since the function of reviewing such sentences is vested by law in the Board of Review. Pp. 353 U. S. 579-580.

Page 353 U. S. 570

(f) Since the sentence here involved was legally imposed by military authorities, its severity is not reviewable on habeas corpus in the civil courts. P. 578, note 10

234 F.2d 611 affirmed.

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