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LEE V. MADIGAN, 358 U. S. 228 (1959)

U.S. Supreme Court

Lee v. Madigan, 358 U.S. 228 (1959)

Lee v. Madigan

No. 42

Argued December 9-10, 1958

Decided January 12, 1959

358 U.S. 228


Article 92 of the Articles of War provided that

"no person shall be tried by court-martial for murder or rape committed within the geographical limits of the States of the Union and the District of Columbia in time of peace."

Petitioner was convicted by a court-martial of the crime of conspiracy to commit murder, the offense having occurred in California on June 10, 1949 -- after actual termination of hostilities in 1945, but before termination of the wars with Germany and Japan had been proclaimed by the President or the Congress.

Held: the offense was committed "in time of peace" within the meaning of Article 92, and the court-martial had no jurisdiction. Pp. 358 U. S. 229-236.

(a) The term "in time of peace" must be construed in the light of the precise facts of each case and the impact of the particular statute involved, and it may have different meanings in different contexts. Kahn v. Anderson, 255 U. S. 1, and other cases, distinguished. Pp. 358 U. S. 230-232.

(b) In view of the attitude of a free society toward the jurisdiction of military tribunals and our reluctance to give them authority to try people for non-military offenses, any grant to them of power to try people for capital offenses should be construed strictly. Pp. 358 U. S. 232-236.

(c) It cannot be readily assumed that Congress used the term "in time of peace" in Article 92 to deprive soldiers or civilians of the safeguards guaranteed in civil courts in capital cases, including the benefit of jury trials, four years after all hostilities had ceased. P. 358 U. S. 236.

248 F.2d 783 reversed.

Page 358 U. S. 229

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