354 U.S. 524 (1957), 1103, Wilson v. Girard

Docket NºNo. 1103
Citation354 U.S. 524, 77 S.Ct. 1409, 1 L.Ed.2d 1544
Party NameWilson v. Girard
Case DateJuly 11, 1957
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 524

354 U.S. 524 (1957)

77 S.Ct. 1409, 1 L.Ed.2d 1544

Wilson

v.

Girard

No. 1103

United States Supreme Court

July 11, 1957

Argued July 8, 1957

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

Syllabus

The United States and Japan became involved in a controversy as to whether an American soldier should be tried by a Japanese court for causing the death of a Japanese woman in Japan. While on duty guarding a machine gun on a firing range, he fired from a grenade launcher an empty cartridge case which struck the Japanese woman, causing her death. American authorities took the position that he was acting at the time "in performance of official duty," within the meaning of Paragraph 3 of Article XVII of an Administrative Agreement between the United States and Japan, as amended by a Protocol, and, therefore, the United States had the "primary right" to try him in a situation of concurrent jurisdiction. Japanese authorities contended that he was acting beyond the scope of official duty, and that therefore Japan had the "primary right" to exercise jurisdiction. After lengthy negotiations, and with the approval of the President, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense, the United States yielded to the Japanese position, and agreed, under a provision of the amended Administrative Agreement, to waive whatever jurisdiction it might have and deliver him to Japanese authorities for trial. Japan then indicted him for causing death by wounding. He sought a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, which denied the writ but granted declaratory relief and enjoined his delivery to Japanese authorities. This Court granted certiorari under 28 U.S.C. § 1254 (1).

Held: the judgment granting an injunction and declaratory relief is reversed; the judgment denying a writ of habeas corpus is affirmed. Pp. 525-530.

1. In the light of the Senate's ratification of the Security Treaty between the United States and Japan after consideration of the accompanying Administrative Agreement, and the Senate's subsequent ratification of the NATO Agreement, with knowledge of the commitment to Japan under the Administrative Agreement to

Page 525

enter into a similar arrangement, the approval of Article III of the Security Treaty authorized the making of the Administrative Agreement, and the subsequent Protocol embodying the provisions governing jurisdiction to try criminal offenses. Pp. 526-529.

2. As applied here, there is no constitutional or statutory barrier to the provision of the Protocol under which the United States waived jurisdiction to try the soldier and agreed to deliver him to Japanese authorities for trial. Pp. 529-530.

3. In the absence of encroachments upon constitutional or statutory limitations, the wisdom of the arrangement here involved is exclusively for the determination of the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Government. P. 530.

152 F.Supp. 21, affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

Japan and the United States became involved in a controversy whether the respondent Girard should be tried by a Japanese court for causing the death of a Japanese woman. The basis for the dispute between the two Governments fully appears in the affidavit of Robert Dechert, General Counsel of the Department of Defense, an exhibit to a government motion in the court below, and the joint statement of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, printed as appendices to this opinion.

Girard, a Specialist Third Class in the United States Army, was engaged on January 30, 1957, with members of

Page 526

his cavalry regiment in a small unit exercise at Camp Weir range area, Japan. Japanese civilians were present in the area, retrieving expended cartridge cases. Girard and another Specialist Third Class were ordered to guard a machine gun and some items of clothing that had been left nearby. Girard had a grenade launcher on his rifle. He placed an expended 30-caliber cartridge case in the grenade launcher and projected it by firing a blank. The expended cartridge case penetrated the back of a Japanese woman gathering expended cartridge cases, and caused her death.

The United States ultimately notified Japan that Girard would be delivered to the Japanese authorities for trial. Thereafter, Japan indicted him for causing death by wounding. Girard sought a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The writ was denied, but Girard was granted declaratory relief and an injunction against his delivery to the Japanese authorities. 152 F.Supp. 21. The petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and, without awaiting action by that court on the appeal, invoked the jurisdiction of this Court under 28 U.S.C. §1254(1). Girard filed a cross-petition for certiorari to review the denial of the writ of habeas corpus. We granted both petitions. 354 U.S. 928. U.S. Supreme Court Rule 20.

A Security Treaty between Japan and the United States, signed September 8, 1951, was ratified by the Senate on March 20, 1952, and proclaimed by the President effective April 28, 1952.1 Article III of the Treaty authorized the making of Administrative Agreements between the two Governments concerning "[t]he conditions which shall govern the disposition of armed

Page 527

forces of the United States of America in and about Japan. . . ." Expressly acting under this provision, the two Nations, on February 28, 1952, signed an Administrative Agreement covering, among other matters, the jurisdiction of the United States over offenses committed in Japan by members of the United States armed forces, and providing that jurisdiction in any case might be waived by the United States.2 This Agreement became effective on the same date as the Security Treaty (April 28, 1952) and was considered by the Senate before consent was given to the Treaty.

Article XVII, paragraph 1, of the Administrative Agreement provided that, upon the coming into effect of the "Agreement between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty regarding the Status of their Forces,"3 signed June 19, 1951, the United States would conclude with Japan an agreement on criminal jurisdiction similar to the corresponding provisions of the NATO Agreement. The NATO Agreement became effective August 23, 1953, and the United [77 S.Ct. 1411] States and Japan signed on September 29, 1953, effective October 29, 1953, a Protocol Agreement4 pursuant to the covenant in paragraph 1 of Article XVII.

Paragraph 3 of Article XVII, as amended by the Protocol, dealt with criminal offenses in violation of the laws of both Nations, and provided:

3. In cases where the right to exercise jurisdiction is concurrent the following rules shall apply:

(a) The military authorities of the United States shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction

Page 528

over members of the United States armed forces or the civilian component in relation to

(i) offenses solely against the property or security of the United States, or offenses solely against the person or property of another member of the United States armed forces or the civilian component or of a dependent;

(ii) offenses arising out of any act or omission done in the performance of official duty.

(b) In the case of any other offense the authorities of Japan shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction.

(c) If the State having the primary right decides not to exercise jurisdiction, it shall notify the authorities of the other State as soon as practicable. The authorities of the State having the primary right shall give sympathetic consideration to a request from the authorities of the other State for a waiver of its right in cases where that other State considers such waiver to be of particular importance.

Article XXVI of the Administrative Agreement established a Joint Committee of representatives of the United States and Japan to consult on all matters requiring mutual consultation regarding the implementation of the Agreement; and provided that if the Committee

. . . is unable to resolve any matter, it shall refer that matter to the respective governments for further consideration through appropriate channels.

In the light of the Senate's ratification of the Security Treaty after consideration of the Administrative Agreement, which had already been signed, and its subsequent ratification of the NATO Agreement, with knowledge of the commitment to Japan under the Administrative Agreement, we are satisfied that the approval of Article III of the Security Treaty authorized the making of the

Page 529

Administrative Agreement and the subsequent Protocol embodying the NATO Agreement provisions governing jurisdiction to try criminal offenses.

The United States claimed the right to try Girard upon the ground that his act, as certified by his commanding officer, was "done in the performance of official duty," and therefore the United States had primary jurisdiction. Japan insisted that it had proof that Girard's action was without the scope of his official duty, and therefore that Japan had the primary right to try him.

The Joint Committee, after prolonged deliberations, was unable to agree. The issue was referred to higher authority, which authorized the United States representatives on the Joint Committee to notify the appropriate Japanese authorities, in accordance with paragraph 3(c) of the Protocol, that the United States had decided not to exercise, but to waive, whatever jurisdiction it might have in the case. The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense decided that this determination should be carried out. The President confirmed their joint conclusion.

[77 S.Ct. 1412] A sovereign nation has exclusive jurisdiction to punish offenses against its laws...

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68 practice notes
  • Baier de Adler v. Upper New York Investment Co. LLC, 103113 DECH, 6896-VCN
    • United States
    • Delaware Court of Chancery of Delaware
    • 31 Octubre 2013
    ...on foreign law where the foreign state has vested jurisdiction exclusively in its own courts."). [84] See Wilson v. Girard, 354 U.S. 524, 529 (1957) (recognizing that, absent consent otherwise, "[a] sovereign nation has exclusive jurisdiction to punish offenses against its laws co......
  • The constitutionality of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
    • United States
    • Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Vol. 98 Nbr. 3, March 2008
    • 22 Marzo 2008
    ...1197 (2d Cir. 1980). (147) Pfeifer v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 468 F. Supp. 920, 924 (S.D. Cal. 1979). (148) See, e.g., Wilson v. Girard, 354 U.S. 524 (1957); Smallwood v. Clifford, 286 F. Supp. 97 (D.D.C. 1968); United States ex rel. Keefe v. Dulles, 222 F.2d 390 (D.C. Cir. 1954); United St......
  • Medellin, Avena, the supremacy of treaties, and relevant executive authority.
    • United States
    • Suffolk Transnational Law Review Vol. 31 Nbr. 2, June - June 2008
    • 22 Junio 2008
    ...Toscano, 208 F. at 943); 1 Op. Att'y Gen. 509, 521 (1821); supra note 40; infra note 96 and accompanying text. See also Wilson v. Girard, 354 U.S. 524, 530 (1957) (Executive can execute a treaty by executive agreement and take measures to comply with the agreement); Dooley v. United States,......
  • Habeas Corpus, Judicial Review, and Limits on Secrecy in Detentions at Guantánamo
    • United States
    • Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal Nbr. V-1, September 2006
    • 1 Enero 2007
    ...INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 289 (2001) (requiring habeas corpus review over noncitizen's deportation). [217] See, e.g., Wilson v. Gerard, 354 U.S. 524 (1957) (exercising habeas jurisdiction over proposed transfer to Japanese custody of U.S. serviceman detained in Japan). [218] Cf. Valentine v.......
  • Free signup to view additional results
57 cases
  • Baier de Adler v. Upper New York Investment Co. LLC, 103113 DECH, 6896-VCN
    • United States
    • Delaware Court of Chancery of Delaware
    • 31 Octubre 2013
    ...on foreign law where the foreign state has vested jurisdiction exclusively in its own courts."). [84] See Wilson v. Girard, 354 U.S. 524, 529 (1957) (recognizing that, absent consent otherwise, "[a] sovereign nation has exclusive jurisdiction to punish offenses against its laws co......
  • 360 F.Supp. 270 (E.D.N.Y. 1973), 73-C-391, In re Ryan
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Eastern District of New York
    • 1 Mayo 1973
    ...be determined solely by the nonjudicial branches of the Government." Gallina v. Fraser, supra 278 F.2d at 79. Cf. Wilson v. Girard, 354 U.S. 524, 77 S.Ct. 1409, 1 L.Ed.2d 1544 (1957), in which the Supreme Court did not consider the nature of the procedures in Japanese courts in refusin......
  • 73 M.J. 871 (A.F.Crim.App. 2014), 38343, United States v. Escobar
    • United States
    • 16 Septiembre 2014
    ...absolute." The Schooner Exchange v. M'Faddon, 11 U.S. 116, 7 Cranch 116, 136, 3 L.Ed. 287 (1812). See Wilson [v. Girard, 354 U.S. 524, 529, 77 S.Ct. 1409, 1 L.Ed.2d 1544 (1957)] (" A sovereign nation has exclusive jurisdiction to punish offenses against its law......
  • 468 F.Supp. 920 (S.D.Cal. 1979), Civ. 78-352, Pfeifer v. United States Bureau of Prisons
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit Southern District of California
    • 29 Enero 1979
    ...SOFA and the Supplementary Agreement. 148 U.S.App.D.C. at 194-195, 459 F.2d at 1217-19 (footnotes omitted). See also Wilson v. Girard, 354 U.S. 524, 77 S.Ct. 1409, 1 L.Ed.2d 1544 (1957) (upholding delivery of American to Japan for trial not complying with American America is not vicariously......
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11 books & journal articles
  • Normalizing Guantanamo.
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Vol. 48 Nbr. 4, September 2011
    • 22 Septiembre 2011
    ...is a fact of jurisdictional significance under the habeas statute. Id. at 584. (35.) See id. at 585-86 (Randolph, J., concurring). (36.) 354 U.S. 524 (1957). (37.) See Munaf, 482 F.3d at 586 (quoting Girard, 354 U.S. at 529). (38.) See Munaf v. Geren, 552 U.S. 1074 (2007) (mem.). (39.) See ......
  • Habeas Corpus, Judicial Review, and Limits on Secrecy in Detentions at Guantánamo
    • United States
    • Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal Nbr. V-1, September 2006
    • 1 Enero 2007
    ...INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 289 (2001) (requiring habeas corpus review over noncitizen's deportation). [217] See, e.g., Wilson v. Gerard, 354 U.S. 524 (1957) (exercising habeas jurisdiction over proposed transfer to Japanese custody of U.S. serviceman detained in Japan). [218] Cf. Valentine v.......
  • The constitutionality of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
    • United States
    • Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Vol. 98 Nbr. 3, March 2008
    • 22 Marzo 2008
    ...1197 (2d Cir. 1980). (147) Pfeifer v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 468 F. Supp. 920, 924 (S.D. Cal. 1979). (148) See, e.g., Wilson v. Girard, 354 U.S. 524 (1957); Smallwood v. Clifford, 286 F. Supp. 97 (D.D.C. 1968); United States ex rel. Keefe v. Dulles, 222 F.2d 390 (D.C. Cir. 1954); United St......
  • Medellin, Avena, the supremacy of treaties, and relevant executive authority.
    • United States
    • Suffolk Transnational Law Review Vol. 31 Nbr. 2, June - June 2008
    • 22 Junio 2008
    ...Toscano, 208 F. at 943); 1 Op. Att'y Gen. 509, 521 (1821); supra note 40; infra note 96 and accompanying text. See also Wilson v. Girard, 354 U.S. 524, 530 (1957) (Executive can execute a treaty by executive agreement and take measures to comply with the agreement); Dooley v. United States,......
  • Free signup to view additional results