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The more than 200 miscellaneous Jehovah's Witnesses historical court cases and historical scenarios posted in this SIX-page section are intended to provide additional enlightenment on the various issues which arise elsewhere within this website. Even highly educated readers will never have heard of most of these cases -- primarily because such have never been cited by liberal authors and reporters whose own writings have been constrained for decades by "political correctness", which dictates the glorification of the Jehovah's Witness Court Cases of the 1920s-1990s. We have also "un-spun" several highly publicized cases so that readers are able to see for the first time the "whole truth" which liberal authors and reporters have censored for decades. Each of the SIX webpages contains its own multiple shocking revelations.
STILL HIDDEN REASON JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
WERE/ARE UNDERSTANDABLY "PERSECUTED" DURING WARTIME
"... the prosecution offered evidence to show that Taylor, in the course of interviews (DOOR-STEP PREACHING) with several women, the sons of two of whom had been killed in battle overseas, stated that it was wrong for our President to send our boys across in uniform to fight our enemies; that it was wrong to fight our enemies; that these boys were being shot down for no purpose at all; that the two women's sons may have thought they were doing the right thing to fight our enemies, but it was wrong; that Hitler would rule but would not have to come here to rule; that the quicker people here quit bowing down and worshiping and saluting our flag and government the sooner we would have peace."
"... Baxley complains that he was prejudiced by evidence, which should not have been admitted, of his statements that he was opposed to war and all killing of human beings, that he would not salute the flag, that he had advised his own son not to fight or wear the uniform, that Germany was sure to win the war, that he would rather live under Hitlerism than the United States."
"Jehovah's Witnesses wouldn't salute the flag because they didn't believe in the United States. They'd say, 'HITLER WOULD RULE THE WORLD!'"
In appellant's first personal appearance before the local [draft] board he stated that "He is in Christ's Army now, and if he went into the Army, it would be treason." He further stated that he believed in self-defense under circumstances which are not premeditated, and that he had a right to protect his [fellow JW] Christian brothers, and that he would fight to defend them in case of an emergency. In his personal appearance before the first hearing officer of the Department of Justice appellant stated that he would defend his home against an invader; he would kill if it became necessary; and that he opposed noncombatant duty because he cannot serve two masters. In his second personal appearance before the local board, appellant stated that he never claimed to be against war in any form, that he believed in theocratic warfare commanded by God, and unless God told him to fight there was no reason to fight. In appellant's appearance before the hearing officer on his second appeal he filed a letter in which he stated, "I believe that the Bible does not allow me to participate in any war that is being fought at the present or will ever be fought at any time in the future. I am conscientiously opposed to participation of war in any form. I will not participate in any battle in which carnal weapons are used and lives are lost. Yet, I do not claim to be a pacifist." At the time of such personal appearance before the hearing officer appellant indicated that if Jehovah, or someone believed to be speaking for Jehovah, ordered him to slay now or to participate in a war now, he would participate in such a war and that in such participation he would use such carnal weapons as were available to him in order to carry out Jehovah's commandments.
In the May 1, 1996 issue of the WATCHTOWER magazine, the WatchTower Society reversed its position on this matter and started permitting JW draftees to perform alternative civilian service. This POLICY REVERSAL was not welcomed by all Jehovah's Witnesses. In fact, immediately after the WatchTower Study in 1996 which covered this study article, this Editor inexplicably was approached by an elderly Jehovah's Witness Male whom this Editor did not know and with whom this Editor had no prior nor subsequent interaction. His name was Dallas L. Vanbriggle, and at the time of that 1996 encounter, Dallas Vanbriggle was 72 years-old. Dallas Vanbriggle introduced himself and only briefly exchanged pleasantries before he went into a RANT about the many "hypocrisies" of the WatchTower Society. Having no prior nor subsequent knowledge about Dallas Vanbriggle nor his life as a JW, this Editor has forgotten most of the specifics that Dallas Vanbriggle rattled off in machine-gun like fashion. Memorably, Dallas Vanbriggle began CRYING as he related that he had spent time in PRISON, where he had suffered from much harsh treatment, due to the WatchTower Society forbidding him to perform alternative civilian service. I now do not even recall the time period in question, although Vanbriggle's age would suggest that it was likely during WW2, or possibly the Korean War. Dallas Vanbriggle questioned the authority and other matters regarding the "Faithful and Discreet Slave". I vaguely recall Vanbriggle also mentioning the hypocrisy of the WatchTower Society with regard to BRIBERY of individuals and foreign officials to "get things done" in foreign countries. I also recall Dallas Vanbriggle relating that he had already previously "stepped-down" as an Elder due to these and other misgivings about the WatchTower Society and its FDS managers. This Editor has little doubt that the DESPICABLE followup article on this topic, which was published in the August 15, 1998 issue of the WATCHTOWER magazine, in which the WatchTower Society blamed everyone but themselves for the sufferings of countless imprisoned JW draftees over the decades, was a specific reply to Dallas Vanbriggle's public protests to both myself and probably others.
*** What type of "civilian service" could be performed would be up to the discretion of the District Judge. In all likelihood, the USDC Judge would ask the JW to suggest a job that would be acceptable to the JW's conscience. What could that be? Door-knocking for the WatchTower Society. Where do you suppose that the occasional references made by JWs to "door-knocking" as "community service" comes from? There are documented instances of high schools granting course credit to JW high school students doing "door-knocking" as a type of alternative coursework.In UNITED STATES v. ROBERT MULSON LATHROP (3rd Circuit - 1972) a confused JW Draftee requested classification as a CO when he registered for the draft. Thereafter, Lathrop requested that his alternative civilian service be performed (1) locally as a full-time JW Pioneer, (2) at WatchTower HQ in Brooklyn, or (3) at WatchTower Farms. Lathrop's request for assignment to WatchTower Farms was APPROVED, but the WatchTower Society wouldn't accept him -- undoubtedly because the assignment was made through the Selective Service System. When Lathrop thereafter finally figured out WatchTower rules and refused all of the Draft Board's choices (hospital work), and was subsequently convicted of violating federal draft law in 1971, that USDC then gave Lathrop the "Solomon probation".
The second issue raised by the appellant involves an allegation of unconstitutional discrimination in the sentencing policy carried on in the Eastern District of New York in Selective Service cases. He contends that a number of defendants sentenced in that district who were Jehovah's Witnesses and whose religious beliefs dictated that they refuse to serve in the Armed Forces were permitted to serve two years in certain civilian jobs on a probationary status while this opportunity was denied to defendants convicted of the same offense who were not members of this religious sect. This, appellant alleges, violates his Fifth Amendment due process rights as that Amendment incorporates equal protection guarantees as against the Federal Government.
The statistics cited by appellant are, however, at best inconclusive. They appear to indicate only that the alternative of civilian service was for the most part accorded to Jehovah's Witnesses who, having qualified as conscientious objectors, refused to obey an order to report for civilian work which was issued by their draft board, although they would comply with such an order were it issued by a court. It is obviously within the trial court's discretion to treat persons in this situation differently from one who has simply refused to report for induction. The appellant has thus failed to demonstrate any significant policy of religious discrimination.
... [McCord] contends that there are statistics to show that there has been an accepted sentencing procedure whereby Jehovah's Witnesses who are prosecuted for disobeying draft board orders to do civilian work of national importance are regularly granted probationary sentences by sentencing judges upon the condition that they perform the civilian work they would not do when ordered by draft boards, and that the existence of this procedure requires that other prosecuted violators, whose relevant beliefs are similar to those of Jehovah's Witnesses, should receive the same benefit. Inasmuch as Judge McLean did not offer appellant the same opportunity that appellant claims other judges have offered other sentenced conscientious objectors, he argues that he has been denied the equal protection of law guaranteed him by the U. S. Constitution and that his right to due process of law has been violated. We affirm the decision of the court below denying appellant's motion. ... ...
Appellant's challenge to the denial of his motion for a reduction of sentence, however, does run deeper than the simple charge that Judge McLean abused his discretion. Appellant also contends that a "special sentencing procedure has been in force in this circuit and elsewhere in the country whereby Jehovah's Witnesses in exactly the same position as McCord are given the opportunity to escape confinement altogether by doing civilian work." It is McCord's position that, although he is not a Jehovah's Witness, the mandates of his conscience are similar to those of Jehovah's Witnesses and that, like them, he can obey the order of a court to do civilian alternate service, but that he cannot conscientiously obey a similar directive of his Selective Service Board.
In support of the motion for reduction of sentence appellant handed the judge an affidavit of a reputable attorney that from 1967 to July 28, 1970 twenty one acknowledged Jehovah's Witnesses who had been prosecuted in the Eastern District of New York for Selective Service violations had been sentenced to terms of probation in lieu of prison upon the condition of the probation that they perform some form of alternative civilian work service.
Hypothesizing that there has been a uniform sentencing procedure employed by sentencing judges when Jehovah's Witnesses have been found guilty of having refused to perform the alternative service their Selective Service Boards have ordered them to perform, appellant would have us take judicial notice that this hypothesis is a Second Circuit fact-pattern, and would have us conclude that he was unconstitutionally singled out for harsher treatment than the Second Circuit's hypothetical sentencing procedure permitted. He arrives at his claim of personal discrimination by speculating that he received a one year sentence because he is not a Jehovah's Witness or a conscientious objector on account of his religious beliefs, but is, rather, a conscientious objector within the meaning of the tests in Seeger and Welsh ....
Indeed, a sentencing procedure adopted as binding upon a full bench of judges of a multi-judge district court which in fact discriminates against Welsh-type conscientious objectors in relation to religiously oriented conscientious objectors would be difficult to justify in light of the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against arbitrary and unreasonable distinctions. Appellant, however, has failed to convince us that there is a discriminatory sentencing procedure in this Circuit which would bind all judges to follow it in each and every case, and he has also failed to make any showing that, had he been a Jehovah's Witness, Judge McLean would have imposed the sentence which he suggests to the Court the Court should have imposed upon him.
The appellant's statistical research does, in fact, tend to show that many federal district judges acting within their broad discretionary powers have been increasingly lenient in the sentences they have handed down in Selective Service cases. The statistics also show the Jehovah's Witness violators have regularly been included in the group [100%] toward whom an increasing number of judges have shown a growing lenience. Certainly this does not prove the existence of a uniform federal judicial policy actuated by religious discrimination in favor of a particular religious sect. And, of course, there is not a scintilla of evidence to show that Judge McLean would have given McCord a different sentence if McCord had been a Jehovah's Witness instead of a Welsh-type conscientious objector.
This apparently simple appeal, which seems at first to be governed by the hoary rule that sentences are ordinarily not reviewable, actually raises disturbing issues of national importance. For what appellant Michael Witt McCord claimed in the district court and continues to claim before us is that the Selective Service Act is being administered unfairly in a most fundamental way. Appellant's charge is that one type of Selective Service offender -- Jehovah's Witnesses -- gets the preferred treatment of probation in sentencing while others like appellant receive a jail sentence. At a time when we tell our young men to resort to the courts rather than to the streets to vindicate their claims based upon conscience, we cannot take such an accusation lightly. Because the district court did not treat this claim with the gravity it demands, I would remand for an evidentiary hearing and a re-sentencing.
The relevant facts on appeal can be stated briefly. Appellant is a conscientious objector. The sincerity of his views has been certified by his local draft board. Because of those views, however, he refused civilian work offered by his draft board, and was thereafter convicted of that offense upon a plea of guilty. Nevertheless, he has indicated a willingness to perform such work if ordered to do so by a judge, because, in his mind, he would not then be obeying the commands of military conscription. Although the distinction may seem fine to many of us, appellant apparently thought it important enough to undergo the rigors of a criminal prosecution. The distinction has also seemed sufficiently meaningful to impel many Jehovah's Witnesses in the last few years to take the same position in the district courts of the Eastern and Southern Districts. But, according to appellant, every single member of the latter group, just because he was a Jehovah's Witness, was given the opportunity to perform civilian work at the order of a judge, but appellant, who is not a Jehovah's Witness, was not so treated and was given a year in jail instead.
If true, these allegations raise grave issues of fairness and justice. If appellant were black and had charged that all whites in his position had been given probation in the Southern District because they were whites, we would give any sentence that sent appellant to jail the "most rigid scrutiny." ... Appellant's case raises the same basic questions. In the district court the Government took the position that disparity of treatment between Jehovah's Witnesses and others like appellant was justified because the refusal of Jehovah's Witnesses to obey a draft board order is based upon religious grounds and appellant's position is not. Thus, the Assistant United States Attorney opposing appellant's motion below argued as follows:
Mr. McCord attempts to lump himself with the Jehovah's Witnesses. It's quite obvious that the Jehovah's Witnesses are an unusual problem, and the practice has been in this District, not exclusively, to allow them to complete their work. Their objection is based on religious grounds, very deep religious grounds. A Jehovah's Witness would rather be flogged and tortured to death, rather than obey the order of a sector of authority to serve. They serve only if it is imposed as a punishment of the Court.
This is quite different from a situation, a case like Mr. McCord's, where *** his opposition is on intellectual and moral grounds.*** I think it is also a combination of the same naivete and intellectual arrogance for Mr. McCord to arrogate to himself all of the problems and concepts and traditions of the Jehovah's Witnesses in trying to demand from this Court that he be allowed to perform alternative service in a comparatively comfortable position as compared to his sentence which your Honor has given.
It is our position that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever whereby persons who are conscientious objectors who refuse to perform work should be equated in any way at all with the Jehovah's Witnesses.
***At this point, given the "unconstitutional" argument just made above by the Justice Department, readers should be made aware that SCOTUS had just ruled in the mentioned WELSH case, in 1970, that draftees who held sincere beliefs motivated solely by morals and ethics deserved the same considerations as did persons whose beliefs were motivated by religious teachings.
In this court, the Government has apparently retreated from this position, as well it might. I can see no justification under ... Seeger ... and Welsh ... for distinguishing by group among concededly sincere conscientious objectors on the basis of whether their beliefs are part of the doctrine of an organized religion.
The major question in this case is whether appellant has shown sufficient facts to justify our intervention. He claims in this court that in the past few years in the Eastern District, 16 out of 16 Jehovah's Witnesses were given the probation denied him, and in the Southern District, at least three out of three, and probably more, Jehovah's Witnesses were so treated. A similar claim was made in the district court. Even more significantly, the Government practically admitted in the district court that appellant's accusation was correct. Thus, as already indicated, the Government stated that:
It's quite obvious that the Jehovah's Witnesses are an unusual problem, and the practice has been in this District, not exclusively, to allow them to complete their work.
Moreover, such a practice is not unusual. Other federal judges, both on the circuit bench and on the trial court, have referred to it. Indeed, this court alluded to the possible existence of the practice in Meyers ... in which similar arguments were made on appeal. In that case, however, the appellant was not a conscientious objector and had simply refused to report for induction, so that there was ample basis for distinguishing between him and a Jehovah's Witness. But in this case, there is no such distinction.
It seems clear to me that McCord has shown enough to warrant an evidentiary hearing on the question whether there is a practice in the Eastern and Southern Districts of so favoring Jehovah's Witnesses. This would include not just an examination of what the sentences have been in Selective Service Act cases involving that particular sect, but also what recommendations the Probation Office has made in such cases and in other conscientious objector cases not involving Jehovah's Witnesses, and, if there is a significant difference in the pattern of recommendations, whether there is a justifiable basis for it. If appellant's accusations turn out to be true, then the district judge should reconsider appellant's sentence and take that additional information into account. I do not for a moment even intimate that the treatment of Jehovah's Witnesses, if it is as alleged, is not sensible. But in those circumstances I would think that considerations of fair play would suggest that appellant's sentence be no harsher than those given to Jehovah's Witnesses. There is precedent, in this circuit and elsewhere, for asking the judge to reconsider the sentence given appellant. If the Probation Office has been following a practice of unjustifiably discriminating against certain types of Selective Service Act offenders in making its recommendations, then district judges, including the judge in this case, have received what amounts to "misinformation." ... Regardless of whether such a practice violates the Constitution, in the exercise of our supervisory power we should not tolerate it. ...
Already devoting too much webspace to this topic, I will simply link other federal opinions which relate to this issue. In assessing this issue, readers should keep in mind that the sentencing USDC Judge knew that whatever length of time in prison to which he sentenced the JW Draft Dodger, that the JW would be eligible for parole in slightly less than 40% of the sentence. In cases where JW Draft Dodgers were sentenced to the MAXIMUM of 60 months, that JW would be out in roughly the same two years that he would have devoted to alternative civilian service. That is why so many received a maximum sentence.
PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT FOR JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES did not occur solely within the federal judiciary (at the hands of the Justice Dept). Studies and inquiries perform by various scholars during the Vietnam War era uncovered that the U.S. Board of Parole, which was under the administration of the Justice Department, systematically discriminated among conscientious objectors on the basis of their religious denomination. All Jehovah's Witnesses, simply by sake of being Jehovah's Witnesses, were routinely granted parole when first eligible. (One study reported an average of 15-17 months, but the time of parole would vary depending on the actual length of the sentences of the JWs studied.) Members of other religious denominations were rarely granted parole at all, and the few that were paroled generally served much longer sentences than JWs. See related Michigan v. Sesson (1971-3) and U.S. v. Dorman Johnson (1968) in which a Jehovah's Witness named Dorman Johnson served only 13 months in prison after refusing to be inducted into the U.S. Military, rather than having refused to perform civilian service. Johnson began working as an undercover drug informer for the Michigan State Police in latter 1970 after being arrested on a narcotics charge while he was on parole.
Readers should also be aware that prior to this issue, USCA judges generally would never touch the sentences set by USDC judges so long as such complied with the statute. In those occasional instances when previously undiscovered relevant mitigating factual info had subsequently come to light, the USCA would simply remand the case back to the USDC for consideration of the new factual info. Shockingly, in these JW cases, not only were some cases remanded simply because the USCA Justices wanted the JW Draft Dodger given the "Solomon probation", but in some instances where the USDC judge was known to be refusing to join in the scheme, the USCA dictated that the USDC Judge grant the "Solomon probation". Readers should be particularly aware that the draft ended in December 1972, and such had been anticipated 12-24 months prior to then. Much of the reasoning used in most of these 1972-3 USCA cases with regard to "sentencing" would likely not dared have been used prior to the war winding down.
UNITED STATES v. HARRY WILLIAM DANIELS (6th Circuit - 1970)
"In the Western District of Michigan and the Northern District of Ohio District Judges have been sentencing in these cases, and then suspending sentence in order to place the defendant on probation, subject to his actual performance of the identical conscientious objector work which he had refused to perform on the order of the Selective Service Board. We take judicial notice that Jehovah's Witnesses are responding to court orders to perform the identical conscientious objector work which they will not perform in response to a Selective Service Board order."
UNITED STATES v. HARRY WILLIAM DANIELS (6th Circuit - 1971)
"Upon remand, the District Court refused to reduce or suspend its original five year sentence of Appellant. ... This case is remanded with instructions to enter the following order: ... IT IS ADJUDGED the imposition of sentence is hereby suspended and the defendant is placed on probation for a period of Twenty-five (25) months; IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that during the twenty-five month period of probation the defendant shall perform civilian work contributing to the maintenance of the national health, safety or interest for a period of twenty-four (24) consecutive months less the time already served in confinement as determined by the Probation Department."
UNITED STATES v. ANTHONY LEWIS GRIFFIN (6th Circuit - 1970)
"The case is remanded to the District Court to allow for the filing of a motion under Rule 35, Fed.R.Crim.P., for review of this sentence so that the District Court may consider suspending the sentence and granting probation on condition that Griffin perform the exact conscientious objector work under orders of the District Court which he has refused to perform under orders of the Selective Service Board."
Dissent: "I also disagree with the comment in the Court's opinion relating to the 'severity' of the sentence imposed in this case. Since, within statutory limitations, the length of a sentence lies solely within the discretion of the district judge, I do not think an appellate court should undertake to comment upon its reasonableness. A district judge has before him all the necessary information upon which to base a proper exercise of discretion, whereas an appellate court does not. I see no objection, however, to our suggestion that the district court might consider suspending sentence and granting probation on condition that the appellant perform the conscientious objector work under order of the Court that he has refused to perform under order of the Selective Service Board."
UNITED STATES v. COLEMAN HERBERT DUDLEY (6th Circuit - 1971)
"However, the remand procedure urged by the defendant was followed in the Jehovah's Witness draft violation case of ... Daniels ... and repeated in ... Griffin ... . Obviously, the laudable purpose of suggesting such procedure was to encourage uniformity in sentencing by the district judges. Some District Judges in this Circuit are following this suggested procedure of sentencing in appropriate cases, others in the exercise of their discretion do not. And since we are bound by the established rule that strictly limits appellate review of imposition of sentences, and since the District Judges in this Circuit are now fully aware, as was the Judge in this case, of the recommended sentencing procedure in appropriate cases involving a Jehovah's Witness convicted of draft violation, no further practical purpose can be served by continuing the practice initiated in United States v. Daniels ... ."
UNITED STATES v. JOHNNY CHARLES (6th Circuit - 1972)
"It is evident that the real basis for sentencing was simply the District Judge's belief that no person charged with a draft offense should serve less time in prison than he would have served in the military had he accepted induction. This is not a proper basis for sentencing. In past decisions we have called the attention of the District Judges in our Circuit to the practices which have become common in two Districts - the Northern District of Ohio and the Western District of Michigan - where young men of the Jehovah's Witness faith who have refused to comply with draft laws have had their sentences suspended and been placed on probation when they agreed to perform court-ordered alternative service. ... We commend such policies to the attention of the Judges of the Eastern District of Kentucky ... ."
UNITED STATES v. ROBERT MICHAEL WOOSLEY (8th Circuit - 1971).
"In his motion to withdraw his plea of guilty, defendant in substance, contended that his plea of guilty was made solely upon the advice and recommendation of his counsel, ... ... defendant testified that his attorney told him there was a possibility that he might be sent to do hospital work."
UNITED STATES v. ROBERT MICHAEL WOOSLEY (8th Circuit - 1973).
"We hold that we possess the power to review the severity of a criminal sentence within narrow limits where the court has manifestly or grossly abused its discretion. [The statutory max, which yields two years in prison, is "gross abuse"?]This is such a case. The severity of the sentence shocks the judicial conscience. [What about the thousands of others who received the same sentence for decades before you got this sudden moral epiphany?] The sentence greatly exceeds penalties usually exacted against Jehovah's Witnesses, [Is that the correct legal standard -- singling out one specific sub-group? What about non-JWs?] and the record completely fails to justify, nor has the district judge undertaken to explain, the imposition of a maximum penalty under the circumstances presented here." [Italicized commentary added]
See also: U.S. v Kenneth Charles Mesloh (Ore USDC - 1969); U.S. v George Edgar Baird (6th Circuit - 1970); U.S. v Thomas Mitchell Goodman (7th Circuit - 1970); U.S. v Eddie Lee Rogers (7th Circuit - 1971); U.S. v Everett Laverne Ayres (7th Circuit - 1971); U.S. v Stephan Parsons (8th Circuit - 1971); U.S. v Gary Lynn Harmon (10th Circuit - 1973).
UNITED STATES v. ROMAN SIEMZUCH was a 1972 Wisconsin USCA NATURALIZATION PROCEEDING, which reflected knowledge of the "Solomon probation" draft cases. Roman Siemzuch, a naturalized citizen in 1966, and a Jehovah's Witness, had his citizenship revoked after it was discovered that he had failed to swear to that part of the Oath that states: "to perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by law."
While negotiating an Oath modification acceptable to both the government and the JW, during a remand to the USDC, in 1971, the JW's Attorney (who may have also been a JW given that he had been representing JWs for 20 years or longer) suggested this alternative Oath:
"That I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction that would not endanger or cause the death of an individual nor would violate my Christian conscience when ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction."
The USDC rejected this "Jehovah's Witness Oath Modification", and the 7th USCA affirmed, stating in part:
The condition defendant interposes, that he would not perform work of national importance under civilian direction unless "ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction," would mean that, as a conscientious objector, he would not obey the order of a selective service board to perform civilian work in lieu of military service, as required by law. He would perform such work only if he was convicted for failing to obey such a selective service board order and was thereafter ordered to perform such work by the trial court as a condition of probation. Under no other circumstances would a court of competent jurisdiction have authority to order performance of such work. The citizenship oath does not contemplate such personal resistance to civilian authority.
"Have we all stopped to think about the hardship this decision is to this Christian because of the many that do not believe like him? ... [God's] word commands us to love our fellow man and not to take up arms against him. (What about against yourself?) ... Jehovah's Witnesses are engaged in a free educational work in the Bible and Mr. Czubryt is only one instrument used by God.
"ASSAULT CASES: It is strange that the brethren get it in their mind that they have to stand up and be kicked by somebody. If some of them would show a little fight and peel someone's head for him it might help a little."
UNITED STATES v. HOMER EUGENE WHITE was a 1942-43 New Mexico federal court case. In November 1942, the FBI announced that they had arrested Homer E. White, age 36, of rural Grant County, who was described as "the leader" of the Jehovah's Witnesses in southern New Mexico. Despite the fact that Homer White had been granted "conscientious objector" status by his local draft board, White told his draft board that he had ZERO intention of reporting to the CO camp. Nor would he salute the American Flag. Nor would he obey the orders of any non-JW. Homer Eugene White further told his draft board that if the FBI came to arrest him that he would "shoot" them. White was arrested without violence after the FBI and local New Mexico law enforcement waited him out, and detained him when he went outside his cabin for spring water -- unarmed. White eventually pled guilty and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Appeal denied.
NEW YORK v. NANCY MURO. On SUNDAY, July 7, 1940, a Jehovah's Witness named Nancy Muro, age 42, of Flushing, New York, entered onto the porch of a home belonging to Anna Setzer and began playing a recording of Judge Rutherford. Setzer objected to the loud recording being played from her home on a Sunday, and asked Muro to stop and leave. An argument and struggled ensued, and Muro was arrested. In September 1940, Nancy Muro was convicted of third degree assault, and was sentenced to 30 days of "persecution" (jail time).
McKEE v. STATE was a 1942 Oklahoma criminal appellate court case which documents the fact that by that point in time at least some of Jehovah's Witnesses were obeying Rutherford's admonition. In fact, some JWs not only intentionally sought out a good fight, but they went into such aptly prepared. In this instance, this group of Jehovah's Witnesses even won this street brawl.
This criminal case involved five Jehovah's Witnesses -- George L. McKee, Mr. Toots Wilson, Mrs. Toots Wilson, Mr. Weldon Simmons, and Mrs. Weldon Simmons, (a sixth JW was evidently not charged), who all got into a street brawl with several citizens of Drumright, Oklahoma, on December 23, 1940. All five JWs were initially convicted of "breach of the peace" by a Justice of the Peace. On appeal, Mrs. Toots Wilson, Mr. Weldon Simmons, and Mrs. Weldon Simmons were acquitted in a jury trial. George L. McKee and Toots Wilson again appealed this decision.
This December 1940 fight was the third incident in an ongoing battle between the citizens of Drumright and the Jehovah's Witnesses. Sometime in late 1939, the Mayor of Drumright had refused a request by a group of Jehovah's Witnesses to broadcast throughout Drumright via loud-speakers a speech by WatchTower President, Judge Rutherford. Then, in June 1940, there was a second confrontation in Drumright, when a group of Jehovah's Witnesses were selling literature on the streets of Drumright.
The specifics of the December 23, 1940, brawl were much disputed by all parties involved -- each side blaming the other for strating the brawl. Prior to trial, George L. McKee had written a letter to the WatchTower Society regarding such, and because such was admitted at trial, certain excerpts are included in this appellate decision. Bearing in mind that McKee obviously "spun" the details to suit his own best interests, still note some of McKee's own incriminating and enlightening remarks:
"After prayerfully studying the instructions of the said INFORMANT (corrected to reflect name of WatchTower publication which was used to educate JWs regarding recruiting activities, and legal issues revolving around such), we decided that the days preceding Christmas would be the best, since a large number of people would be on the streets, doing their shopping".
"The following week we (four Bros. & two Srs.) planned to work Monday 23th and Sat 28th. So taking all precautions we thought that would be necessary; the men had canes on their arms, while the women had their purses with heavy cold cream jars in them. We worked until our time set to stop at 12:00 o'clock."
"As we were going to our cars to leave town we were surrounded by the same mob only this time they had increased to about fifty and without say a word, Art Glaser an American Legion started cutting one of the Bro. magazine bags off, and I politely ask him to stop, without giving heed he and four other men grabbed him and started beating him, so not wishing to see the Lord's literature torn up or His servants hurt, I let go with my cane, knocking two fellows out, and the fight began, which lasted about thirty minutes". [Commentary: I would have thought that the "fight began" when the four men supposedly first started beating the other JW???]
"During the fight, the enemies mind was either so confused, that they began fighting one another, or either there were some people of good will who were fighting for us, because at one time there were at least ten men knocked out, lying on the sidewalks, (none of these were the witnesses). [Commentary: Reread that last sentence until you fully understand that McKee is actually boasting -- all 10 men surely were NOT knocked unconscious by little 'ol us!!!] While the Bros. were using canes and fists the Srs. were using their purses which proved very useful, in saving two of the witnesses life. All the witnesses both Bros. and Srs. knew they were fighting for a righteous cause and never at one time let up until most of the enemy were carried off or left to escape more just treatment".
"We did not go on the street corners with the intentions of fighting, but to enable the people of good will an opportunity to the Kingdom Message, but after the enemies deliberately started to destroy our literature, after seeing us going to leave town and being told not to destroy it, it was more than the witnesses could bear, and being instructed to fight for the kingdom interests and our Brethren, we used just what force we thought necessary and no more, because after they stopped fighting and began leaving we also went on our way". [Commentary: McKee here acknowledges that the JWs had been "instructed to fight". There is only one entity that instructs JWs about anything -- the WatchTower Society.]
Readers not familiar with such should be aware that male JWs frequently carried "canes" as weapons in the 1930s and 1940s. Walking canes were items commonly carried by some people to help them get around, as fashion accessories, etc. Thus, unless a person looked closely, most observers would not understand that a JW was carrying a weapon. Some canes were actually canes that had been hand-selected for their suitability as a weapon, but some were actually homemade clubs made to resemble a cane.
As for the female JWs, who carried purses specially "loaded" with heavy 1940s glass jars filled with cold cream, does anyone believe that these JW females came up with such on their own? Or, does anyone actually believe that they were able to win this street fight using loaded purses as weapons without the benefit of having first trained to some extent in the use of such?
In the end, this appellate court remarked that all parties who participated in the street brawl were guilty of "breach of the peace", and "suspecting" that only the JWs had been charged, this court modified the sentence by deleting the 30-days jail time, but affirming the $25.00 fine and $74.80 court costs.
Stillwater citizen, Mert Poole, complained that on a Saturday afternoon as he walked past Walrod, who was attempting to pass out WatchTower literature on the sidewalk in front of a Stillwater Bank, that Walrod thrust some of the WatchTower literature up under Poole's nose, and that Poole knocked it away, and started on up the sidewalk. Poole alleged that he had taken three or four steps away, when Walrod ran up behind him, jumped on his back, knocked him down, and struck him several blows on his face. There were no eyewitnesses to the start of the fight, except Poole and Walrod, who each accused the other of starting such. However, the prosecution used two eyewitnesses who testified that they did see Walrod on top of Poole and striking him repeatedly. Poole acknowledged during the jury trial that he had testified against Walrod on two previous occasions when Walrod had been charged in Stillwater with certain alleged breaches of the peace, and that he had told Walrod never to offer him any WatchTower literature, nor bring it to his house.
This appellate court affirmed the jury's decision, but modified the sentence, stating in part:
We have come to the conclusion, after an examination of this record, that the complainant Poole is not altogether without fault in this altercation. Both he and the defendant should have been taken before the police judge of the city of Stillwater and fined for fighting. Poole's testimony discloses that he felt bitter towards the defendant and thought that he was not a patriotic American citizen because of certain religious practices of the organization to which the accused belonged. The defendant lost his temper or the fighting would not have occurred. Under the record, the verdict of the jury must be sustained. However, the severity of the punishment is not merited by the record. Justice requires a modification. The minimum fine of $5 and costs is a sufficient punishment.
It would appear, from the general discussion of civil liberties, that freedom is a one-way street. For instance, no one speaks of freedom from molestation. The other day, in a matter of four or five city streets, I was accosted by perhaps 100 or 150 Jehovah's Witnesses who insisted upon making me a depository for their literature. I regarded this as a molestation. Should I call a policeman and demand, as a citizen, my right to walk the city streets without let or hindrance, or must I duck along, hoping sooner or later that the nuisance might end? Or, should I, as a man, push aside, with more or less vigor, those who, exercising their right of freedom of expression, deny me the right of freedom of molestation?
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