WATCHTOWER - JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
HISTORY COURT CASES
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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.
Readers particularly interested in the DRAFT subject of this single webpage should also see our separate webpage, JEHOVAH'S WITNESS FUNERALs, MEMORIALs, and BURIALs with FULL MILITARY HONORS.
STILL HIDDEN REASON JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
WERE/ARE UNDERSTANDABLY "PERSECUTED" DURING WARTIME
TAYLOR v. MISSISSPPI was a 1943 SCOTUS victory for the WatchTower Society which is always reported in such an abbreviated fashion practically noone knows what factual situations actually gave rise to the court case. This SCOTUS case actually demonstrates why so many Americans came to hate the Jehovah's Witnesses during this frightful time period in which Americans were contemplating the very real possibility that Hitler, Mussolini, and the Emperor of Japan could win World War II, and conquer and rule over the United States.
Within a matter of weeks after Pearl Harbor, the terrible and backward State of Mississippi developed and enacted a state law which was unquestionably directed at Jehovah's Witnesses and other subversive groups. The law criminalized "disloyalty to the government of the United States, or the state of Mississippi", and activities "which reasonably tends to create an attitude of stubborn refusal to salute, honor or respect the flag or government of the United States, or of the state of Mississippi". In separate incidents, Taylor and two other Jehovah's Witness Ministers were separately convicted under this well-intentioned state law. However, on the WatchTower Society's appeal to SCOTUS, this Mississippi state law was struck down as unconstitutional.
Rarely, if ever, is it disclosed exactly what was it that Taylor and the other two Jehovah's Witness Ministers did to get arrested. Taylor and the other two JWs did what thousands of JWs did every single day while WWII was ongoing. Jehovah's Witnesses were going to -- often even targeting -- the homes of families who had recently suffered the deaths of loved ones in the war. There, those JW Ministers told grieving mothers, fathers, and wives that their sons, brothers, and husbands had not only died pointlessly, but had even sinned against GOD in fighting for the United States of America and against Germany, Italy, and Japan.
While the TAYLOR v. MISSISSIPPI decision merely summarizes what was occurring daily on the porches of thousands of loyal, patriotic American citizens, readers should try to contextually put themselves in the shoes of the targets of the sermonizing of Taylor and his fellow Jehovah's Witnesses:
"... 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."
If veins are not popping out in your forehead, then you read this SCOTUS excerpt too quickly. Read it again. Slowly, this time. If you still "don't get it", then you need to spend an evening viewing SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, and then come back here and read this entire SIX page section!!!
Few people today, even today's Jehovah's Witnesses, know that during the early part of World War 2, when Germany, Italy, and Japan were having much success on the eastern and western battlefields in Europe and Africa, and in the Pacific, that the WatchTower Society was teaching and preaching that the Bible prophesied that the Axis Powers would defeat and rule over the Allies.
That's correct.Taylor and his fellow Jehovah's Witnesses were preaching directly to fathers, mothers, wives, children, and siblings of slain American soldiers, wounded American soldiers, and American soldiers then fighting overseas, that Germany, Italy, and Japan would ultimately win the war, and that Adolph Hitler would soon rule over the United States. Taylor even went so far as to proclaim that the quicker that Americans stopped supporting the President and Government of the United States in its war with Germany, the quicker that Adolph Hitler's rule -- along with "peace" -- would commence.
UNITED STATES v. JOHN MELVIN BAXLEY was a 1942-43 South Carolina federal Court of Appeals court case which rarely, if ever, sees the light of day because it also PROVES that during WW2 that Jehovah's Witnesses across the United States were publicly preaching that Germany and its Axis allies were going to defeat the United States and its Allies and rule over the United States, and it PROVES that Jehovah's Witnesses often spoke favorably about Adolph Hitler and his Nazi government.
In 1942, a Jehovah's Witness Minister in South Carolina, named John Melvin Baxley, was convicted of "aiding, abetting, and counseling" his own son, Adrian Baxley (see page 2014), and other Jehovah's Witnesses, to violate the Selective Sevice Act, and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. The material part of the indictment charged that Baxley "unlawfully, knowingly and wilfully did counsel one Arthur Haselden, and his son Elbert Haselden, one Dave Donley, and his son David Donley, one Philip Spring, and divers other persons, ... to evade service in the land or naval forces of the United States." On appeal, the USCA affirmed the USDC decision and sentence, noting in part that,
"... 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."
In 2005, a liberal "educated idiot" named Stephen A. Smith, authored a lengthy magazine article which was totally sympathetic with Jehovah's Witness students who had been expelled from schools across the United States during WW2. However, in the midst of Smith's "WatchTower Cult Praise-a-thon", Smith includes a quote from a non-JW neighbor-classmate of one such Arkansas Jehovah's Witness Student whom Smith was in the process of glorifying. During that 2002 telephone interview, that non-JW neighbor-classmate tells the interviewer:
"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!'"
Without missing a beat, and without making a dent in Smith's liberal preconceptions, Stephen Smith STUPIDLY then proclaims in his very next sentence that, "... allegations that Jehovah's Witnesses supported Hitler -- while completely unfounded and even refuted by the Department of Justice -- circulated throughout the country during 1941-43. In fact, while the Jehovah's Witnesses maintained a doctrine of neutrality with regard to the war, ..."
IDIOT!!!! Those so-called "allegations that Jehovah's Witnesses supported Hitler ... circulated throughout the country during 1941-43" because that was EXACTLY what Jehovah's Witnesses were doing during 1941-43. The JWs only stopped making such statements after the tide of war turned in favor of the Allies. Liberals like Stephen A. Smith evidently also have a huge difficulty with understanding and applying the definition of the term, "neutrality".
Stephen A. Smith's inclusion of this non-JW classmates' observation ALSO well demonstrates that the negative backlash against Jehovah's Witness students was not solely a response to those Jehovah's Witness students' (historically-rewritten) "well-mannered refusal" to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but actually was also in response to the JW students' schoolyard chatter favoring Hitler and his Nazi Germany, along with the Jehovah's Witnesses' predictions of DOOM for the armies and government of the United States.
2021 ADDENDUM: In a June 1940 F.B.I. field report, an informant related that a door-to-door JW was proclaiming various negatives pending for the United States, including a Nazi takeover of the U.S. government prior to Christ destroying everybody but Jehovah's Witnesses. A June 1942 report related that another door-to-door JW had called President Roosevelt a "dictator", and stated that Americans entering the U.S. Army were "doomed". An April 1942 report related that another door-to-door JW had told a drafted householder that if he joined the Jehovah's Witnesses that he would not have to report for enlistment. A May 1942 report related that door-to-door JWs were calling soldiers at a nearby military base "the true Nazis".
Most non-JWs think that Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to serve in the U. S. Military because JWs are "pacifists" who object to "fighting", "killing", and "war", which is not true. (See letter below, in which WatchTower Society President criticizes JWs for NOT fighting in the streets of America.) Over the decades, in USDC case after USDC case across the country, JW Draft Dodgers have variously stated that they would fight and even kill in defense of themselves, their family, fellow Jehovah's Witnesses, their Kingdom Halls, and any other of GOD's [aka WatchTower Society] enemies, if and when so ordered. At first, federal prosecutors and conservative USDC judges used such reasoning as their rationale not to classify JWs as "conscientious objectors". However, the USDC reasoning was overruled by one USCA after the other. Liberal USCA judges unanimously ruled that Jehovah's Witnesses willingness to fight and kill in defense of themselves, family, fellow JWs, Kingdom Halls, and the WatchTower Society did not mean that Jehovah's Witnesses should be required to fight against the enemies of the United States.
For decades now, the entire U.S. Government -- executive, legislative, and judicial branches -- have intentionally turned a blind eye to the fact that Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to serve in the U. S. Military because the WatchTower Society teaches that the U. S. Government is an illegitimate government in rebellion against God, and that the U. S. Government is under the control of Satan the Devil, and is a tool of Satan, and is supported by Satan. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that they will rule the world after God finally, at Armageddon, gets around to destroying the U.S. Government, and killing all Americans who did not convert to the JWs. Objecting to "war" and "killing" is simply the "public relations" excuse that Jehovah's Witnesses sometimes parrot to reporters and judges, because the WatchTower Society knows what would happen if the general public fully and completely understood what JWs are taught behind closed doors. However, every now and then, some stray JW runs his/her mouth too much in court, and tells the truth. However, even when such comments sometimes get recorded/reported, few non-JWs understand what the JW actually said.
For instance, in 1969, in UNITED STATES v. DONALD FISHER, when Donald Fisher, of Miami, Florida, was convicted of draft evasion, he stated in open court that the Jehovah's Witnesses' objection to military service was not so much because they objected to war, but rather because JWs objected to performing any service for any government other than the "kingdom of God", which in the world of JWs means the "WatchTower Society".
In another 1969 case, UNITED STATES v. BOYD L. GODDARD, Boyd Lynn Goddard was classified as a conscientious objector, but as did 98% of Jehovah's Witnesses so classified, Goddard still refused to perform the alternative service that he assigned at a local Texas hospital. At his trial, Goddard testified that had he taken the job at Big Spring State Hospital, he would have freed up someone else to take his place in the military service, or in some other capacity to support the United States government, and that such was against his religions convictions. Goddard stated that he could not support the government of the United States, or any other government not engaged in God's work, except in such things as paying taxes. Goddard maintained that he could not work for God and the Devil at the same time.
JOSEPH R. KRETCHET v. UNITED STATES was a 1960 California federal USCA court case, during which a Jehovah's Witness named Joe Ronald Kretchet was represented by attorney Hayden Covington, who was Head of the WatchTower Society's Legal Department. Here is an interesting excerpt from that USCA opinion:
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.
ALL JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES ARE EQUAL,
BUT SOME JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.
Every Jehovah's Witness who had a father, brother, uncle, grandfather, or other family member who did jail and/or prison time for the WatchTower Cult due to the cult's ridiculous rules pertaining to military service and service alternatives, need to be made aware of how RIDICULOUSLY HARD that the WatchTower Cult fought to get overturned the conviction of Jehovah's Witness WILLIAM THOMAS KLOPP. Even WatchTower Cult "darling" Harold Louis Zimmerson, of New Holland Machinery Company
, did not receive the "royal treatment" that was received by furniture store co-owner William T. Klopp, of Middletown, Ohio.
Curiously, in 1940-43, at the beginning of the nation's recovery from the Great Depression, William Klopp, who merely was the son of the owner of Reed-Klopp Furniture Company, admitted to earning in 2021 dollars from $265,000.00 to $320,000.00 annually. (Reed, the owner of a local consumer finance company, and Director at three local banks, probably committed suicide at age 53,in 1930.)
Middletown, Ohio is located midway between Cincinnati and Dayton, and was the home of numerous ILLITERATE and IGNORANT HILLBILLIES who had relocated out of the mountains of Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia during the Great Depression. How do you suppose that a furniture store in Middletown could pay such an extreme annual salary to just one of the owners? The customers' sore butts were not due solely to the poor quality of the chairs purchased from William Klopp.
WILLIAM THOMAS KLOPP v. UNITED STATES (1944-49). In April 1944, William Thomas Klopp, age 37, Secretary-Treasurer of the Reed-Klopp Furniture Company, Middletown, Ohio, was indicted by a federal grand jury for failure to report for work of national importance. William Klopp had been classified by his local draft board as 4-E -- "Conscientious Objector" -- but Klopp felt that he should have been classified 4-D -- "Minister".
At trial, in May 1944, for the first time in the history of government prosecution of conscientious objectors to military service in Federal Court in Cincinnati, the District Judge imposed a FINE in addition to a five-year penitentiary sentence. The fine was $3,500.00 ($52,000.00 in 2021 dollars).
Judge Druffel commented negatively about the "over aggressiveness" of Klopp and his attorney, Victor F. Schmidt. The judge remarked that given Schmidt's excessively detailed defense, which had wasted the time of the court and the jury, which must have cost Klopp big bucks, along with Klopp's admitted excessive annual income, that Klopp should bear at least part of the expense that Klopp had forced the government to incur in the investigation and prosecution of this case.
The trial featured frequent clashes between the government and Schmidt over draft board records, which the government believed to be immaterial. Judge Druffel sustained the government's objections. Statements by Klopp that his draft board had acted "arbitrarily", and that it did not proceed according to law, and that it did not present a complete transcript of proceedings to the Appeal Board when Klopp appealed from the board's classification, were all rejected by the court. Attempts by Victor Schmidt to impune the actions of the draft board and its classification of Klopp failed. Judge Druffel also refused to permit Klopp to go onto the witness stand to read a long prepared statement, as had numerous Jehovah's Witnesses in similar cases.
WILLIAM THOMAS KLOPP v. OVERLADE was a habeas corpus action filed in Indiana after the above lawsuit was lost in Ohio. Hayden Covington had joined the defense in the excessively detailed brief to the Ohio's USCA, which ruled against Klopp. Covington also appealed this case to Indiana's USCA, and thereafter to SCOTUS, but was rejected. We encourage interested parties to read the lengthy USCA submission, which is available online. William Thomas Klopp was paroled in November 1947 -- having done only about 3 1/2 years of his five year sentence.
Starting in World War 2, and then through the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and up until 1996, the WatchTower Society prohibited Jehovah's Witness Draftees from seeking Conscientious Objector status, because classification as a CO required performance of alternative civilian service administered through the Selective Service System, which the WatchTower Society further prohibited, because such amounted to its JW members continuing to be under the control of an arm of the U.S. Military.
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.
The WatchTower Society accomplished this "prohibition" via sermons and other verbal communication within the JW community. Printed materials were so vaguely worded and contradictory that even many Jehovah's Witnesses were confused for decades as to whether or not JW Draftees were allowed to seek CO status -- evidenced by the many court cases documenting that active, loyal JW Draftees had either sought or accepted CO status, and had not objected to such until it became public knowledge within the JW community that the JW was to start a new job at a local hospital or other public charity. In fact, if an active JW accepted CO status and performed alternative civilian service administered through the Selective Service System, that JW was considered to have automatically "disassociated" (resigned) from the WatchTower religion, and was to be "shunned" by all of their JW family and friends.
JW Draftees essentially had only one legal option, and that was to seek exemption as a "minister", which, under federal law, required that "ministry" be that JW Draftee's fulltime vocation. INTERESTINGLY, that single legal option left draft-age JW Males with only two options in life. Either become a full-time "door-knocker" for the WatchTower Society, or go to prison.
INTERESTINGLY, in the mid 1960s, just after the WatchTower Society's longtime Lead Attorney, Hayden Covington, was excommunicated from the WatchTower Society, in what actually may have been a "backroom deal" between the WatchTower Society's new Legal Department and the U.S. Justice Department, Federal Prosecutors in the 9th Circuit (the "left" coast) started cutting deals with prosecuted JW Draftees who had been classified as COs, but who had refused to perform alternative civilian service under the administration of the Selective Service System. The JW would agree to plead guilty to violating federal draft law and would receive a prison sentence. However, upon recommendation of the Prosecutor, the USDC Judge would "suspend" the prison sentence, and the JW would be given "probation", without serving any further jail time, on the condition that the JW perform two years of civilian service *** under the direction and control of the federal court system, rather than the Selective Service System.
*** 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".
Because this scheme was an end-run around Congressionally-passed federal draft law, the actual implementation of this scheme would have to be done on a piecemeal basis -- also because the scheme had to be agreed to by individual USDC Judges, who were not required to go along with the "suspension/probation" recommendation of Federal Prosecutors. The scheme spread slowly amongst certain liberal federal judges from USDCs in California to USDCs in adjacent states. It was not until 1967 and 1968, that first local, and then national, media took note of such. However, it was not until 1970 that the scheme grabbed the full attention of the federal judiciary. In 1970, a Chief District Judge in Oregon, named Gus J. Solomon, who was highly respected by liberals across the nation, had an article published in legal journals in which the scheme was publicized, and for which Solomon took credit -- "A few years ago, I stumbled onto the idea that Jehovah's Witnesses would do alternative service if I ordered it because I am not in the military. ... I know that the Selective Service is happy about this solution, ... ."
INTERESTINGLY, a California USDC had been suspending the sentences of JW Draft Dodgers, conditioned on the JW agreeing to perform court-ordered alternative civilian service, SINCE WORLD WAR 2, AND CONTINUING THROUGH THE KOREAN WAR. Noone should believe for a second that the actions of that California USDC would have escaped the immediate attention of either the Justice Department or the WatchTower Society's Legal Department. Having JW Draft Dodgers plead guilty and end up performing civilian service, rather than being stuck in prison, made life easier for Federal Prosecutors and JW Draft Dodgers, not to mention the federal prison system. There is only one party in this whole MESS who would not benefit from the scheme. That party is the same party who, at any time between 1944 and 1965, could have instantly brought the scheme to the attention of every USDC in the nation which had before it such a case involving a JW Draft Dodger. Someone wanted to maintain the status quo of draft-age JW Males having only two options in life -- become a full-time "door-knocker" for the WatchTower Society, or GO TO PRISON. It is that "someone" whom Jehovah's Witnesses should blame for the THOUSANDS of years of prison time endured by their sons and husbands.
Now that we have established how Jehovah's Witnesses should view this issue, let's take a further look at how implementation of the scheme impacted all parties involved. Once the scheme became publicized in the latter 1960s, more and more liberal USDC judges quickly started using the scheme, while most conservative federal judges did not. In 1970, liberal USCA appellate judges started chastising those conservative USDC judges who were not joining in the scheme, and some USCAs even started overruling prison sentences given to JW Draftees, despite the fact that the USDC's sentences were statutory.
Some readers may applaud this scheme, while others may condemn it. However, one thing is a fact. The scheme resulted in unlawful discrimination against both JWs and non-JWs. For JWs, only those JWs who appeared before a scheming federal judge did not have to do prison time, while their fellow JWs in an adjacent district went to prison. As for non-JW Draftees, there is no evidence that the scheming judges made any attempt to apply the sentencing scheme to them.
One additional point that should be noted is that liberal judges did not use this sentencing scheme solely in instances where JW Draftees had been classified as COs and had refused to perform alternative civilian service under the administration of the Selective Service System. In UNITED STATES v. LARRY ALLEN HILL, which was a 1969 Alabama case, liberal USDC Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. extended the "Solomon Probation" to a JW Draftee who had been classified 1-A and failed to report for induction into regular military service.
By 1971, the cat was already out of the bag as far as non-JWs Draftees were concerned. In UNITED STATES v. MEYERS, which was a July 1971 USCA decision which involved a non-JW, the Second Circuit Justices, who knew perfectly well what was going on, not only in their circuit, but across the nation, were forced to DISHONESTLY deny that unlawful discrimination was occurring in its own district courts:
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.
In May 1972, the Second Circuit was again forced to deal with this issue in UNITED STATES v. McCORD. In this case, McCord, although not a Jehovah's Witness, refused to perform alternative civilian service FOR THE EXACT SAME REASON THAT JWs REFUSED. The careful choice of dishonest verbiage by the USCA Justices speaks for itself:
... [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.
One member of the three judge panel dissented, stating in part:
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 conceededly 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.
UNITED STATES v. JOSEPH S. CZUBRYT was a 1944 Massachusetts federal court case. In Spring 1944, a Jehovah's Witness named Joseph Stanley Czubryt, 30, of North Adams, was apparently denied classification as a "minister" by his draft board, and not so untypically of some JWs, Czubryt proceeded to cooperate with subsequent steps in the process, such as showing up for the physical exam (in hopes of failing such), etc. However, Czubryt passed his physical, and he was notified to report for transport to the induction center on Wednesday, March 29, 1944. Czubryt both send a letter to his draft board that he would not be going, and even went down and notified the officials in person that Wednesday. Although specifics are unknown, there are hints that Czubryt was not well received that day by the other inductees and their families.
What is unusual about this case, however, is what happened the next day. Joseph Czubryt "accidentally" shot himself in the left knee, while supposedly examining a .22 pistol, which had "recently came into his possession". Unfortunately for Czubryt, the small caliber gun did not do much damage. Doctors were able to remove the bullet and release him the same day. Czubryt was eventually convicted of violating federal draft laws, and sentenced to two years in prison.
A man identifying himself as the local JW leader wrote a "Letter To The Editor" in support of Czubryt, which displayed a total lack of consciousness that WWII was a worldwide war between the forces of good and evil, as well as how the rest of America viewed the JWs' supposed "neutrality" in such fight:
"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.
Over the decades, depending on what its "legal needs" were at the time, the WatchTower Society has flip-flopped back and forth as to whether it claimed that "ALL" baptized Jehovah's Witnesses, including females, were "ordained Ministers", or only its "Elders" were "ordained Ministers. Even non-JWs should be able to guess what the position was during WWII.
UNITED STATES v. HOWARD R. MILLER was a 1943 Oregon federal court decision, in which 19 year-old Howard Robert Miller Jr was convicted on draft evasion charges after contending that he had been an "ordained Minister" since the day he was baptized as a Jehovah's Witness at the age of 10. At his sentencing, Howard Miller Sr backhandedly threatened the federal judge when he stated, "If I were in your position, your honor, I would ask God to strike me dead before I sent this boy to prison."
UNITED STATES v. CHARLES A. STEELE was a 1942-43 Illinois federal court decision. Charles Arthur Steele II, 22, was a Jehovah's Witness who was granted "conscientious objector" status by his draft board, but still refused to perform alternative service. However, Charles Steele claimed to be a JW Minister, and demanded classification as a full-time "minister", although he was enrolled at Indiana University, and played on its football team. Charles Arthur Steele II was convicted on draft evasion charges in 1942, and in 1943 was sentenced to three years in prison. After having received his sentence, Steele threatened the judge: "I shall call down the wrath of God on the authorities responsible." The Judge replied, "I'll take that responsibility."
UNITED STATES v. FRANK Y. FLOURNEY was a 1943 New Mexico federal court decision. In a statement to the court made prior to sentencing, a Jehovah's Witness draft dodger, named Frank Younger Flourney, placed an unquoted "curse" on the Judge if he interfered with the work of Jehovah's Witnesses. The Judge responded: "If the Lord strikes me dead, I have a duty to perform. You have been fairly convicted, and I sentence you'to five years."
UNITED STATES v. THOMAS H. BURGDORF was a 1950 California federal court case. In 1950, a draft dodging Jehovah's Witness, named Thomas H. Burgdorf, was sentenced to five years in prison, at a time when most JWs often received three years or less (but often were released after only a few months of good behavior), after he P.O.'ed the judge by stating in court that "armed services chaplains are traitors to God."
In 1943, an unidentified JW draft dodger called USDC Judge John Collett "a tool of the Devil" after Collett sentenced him to the maximum prison term.
UNITED STATES v. EVAN L. SELF was a 1942 North Carolina federal court case. In 1942, a draft dodging Jehovah's Witness, named Evan Loy Self, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he refused to report even as a conscientious objector. After Self's sentencing, an unidentified JW Female gave the Prosecutor a public tongue-lashing as he exited the courtroom. The JW wagged her finger under the prosecutor's nose, and yelled, "There's blood on your hands." She may have been especially angered because Self's brother, Glen Richard Self, had also been recently arrested on draft evasion charges.
UNITED STATES v. JWs 1 - 41 were 1943 Pennsylvania federal court decisions. On December 10, 1943, three Pittsburgh federal judges sentenced 41 different Jehovah's Witnesses to five years each in federal prison on various charges of draft evasion. The three judges did so despite weathering "invocations of divine wrath".
UNITED STATES v. MOLINARI was a 1943 California federal court decision. In January 1943, a Jehovah's Witness "Minister", named Raymond Molinari, 24, of Mountain View, California, was convicted of failing to show up for induction into the U.S. Army. At his sentencing, which was typically three years in prison, Molinari informed the judge that he had changed his mind, and would agree to induction. Molinari, whose wife was expecting their first child in a matter of weeks, stated that after re-thinking the situation, he realized that California was subject to invasion from Japan. Other JWs in attendance condemned Molinari for compromising.
UNITED STATES v. WHITNEY T. LUNDIN was a 1943 Illinois federal court decision. An 18 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Whitney Theodore Lundin, was arrested and awaiting trial on draft evasion charges, when he had a Pauline experience while sitting in his jail cell and reading WatchTower books. Whitney Lundin reported, "A great beam of light suddenly came over me. I changed my mind. I'm ready to be a soldier."
UNITED STATES v. THEODORE ANDRUSAK was a 1942 Wisconsin federal court decision. A Manitowoc Jehovah's Witness, named Theodore Andrusak, was charged with draft evasion after failing to show up for induction into the military. While in local jail awaiting trial, Andrusak declared to a local draft board official, who was attempting to get Andrusak to change his mind, "I just won't go. I don't care if I get locked up in jail for three or four years." Apparently, Ted Andrusak was an expert on the subject. From 1939-1941, he had done 12-18 months in state prison for breaking and entering.
UNITED STATES v. JOHN FASHANK. In late 1943, a Jehovah's Witness named John Fahank, age 19, of Youngtown, Ohio, was sentenced to 5 years in prison after being convicted of failure to report for induction. By February 1944, Fashank had applied for parole so that he could join the military. Fashanks reportedly stated that, "I've changed my mind. I was impressed by the treatment accorded me by all government agencies, and at the trial. A government that treats its prisoners so well is worth fighting for."
I do not want to use much webspace on this topic, but persons interested in the outrageous quantity of WatchTower litigation might be interested to know about a lawsuit "genre" that has gone unreported and unnoticed because the WatchTower Society lost all such court cases.
Post-WWII, after the fear of Hitler and Tojo was replaced by relief afforded by their demise, many of the hundreds of JW draft evasion court cases were heard in federal appellate courts, some of which were no longer anxious to continue such cases, and a few of such were "won" for any number of reasons -- ranging from technicalities to legitimate blunders.
As just one more example of how the WatchTower Society never allowed any opportunity to pass to "stick their finger in the eye" of any adversary, some of the JWs in those cases started filing civil lawsuits seeking tens of thousands of dollars in damages against the individual members of those draft boards, appeal boards, and any and all individual administrative and court personnel who worked for the various governmental entities connected with the draft.
Thus far, I have ran across lawsuits in Ohio, Arkansas, and South Carolina. All were dismissed by the various USDCs on the grounds that the defendants were "immune" from such lawsuits, yet such lawsuits still had to be answered, handled, etc.
GEORGE WILLIAM DODEZ v. SELECTIVE SERVICE ET AL was a 1948-9 Ohio case dismissed at USDC level and affirmed by USCA.
TAZE H. GIBSON v. SELECTIVE SERVICE ET AL was a 1947-8 Arkansas case dismissed at USDC level.
UNITED STATES v. GERALD W. BAKER was a 1966-7 Ohio federal court case. In November 1966,Gerald Wayne Baker, 21, of Elyria, Ohio, was indicted by a federal grand jury because he refused to serve in the United States Military, plus he refused to perform the assigned alternative service of working in a government operated hospital.
Baker claimed exemption from the draft in that he allegedly was a Jehovah's Witness Minister, who did not believe in fighting in war for any country, and he refused to perform "alternative service", because the WatchTower Society ruled that performing an "alternative" to military service was as "sinful" as performing military service itself.
Charges against Baker were dismissed in April 1967 on the motion of the Prosecutor on a technicality caused by a mistake on the part of Baker's draft board. It is not known what occurred between Baker and his draft board after this dismissal, since such was simply an error which could have been corrected. Baker could then have been indicted again, prosecuted, and sentenced to prison as were many, many JWs during this time period, due to the WatchTower Society's faulty later-changed interpretation that performing alternative service violated Bible principles.
Tragically, Gerald Wayne Baker again made the national news because of his Jehovah's Witness beliefs the very next year. Interestingly, in May 1968, Baker had moved from Ohio, where he seemed to have lots of personal business to attend, to a rural area near Pleasantville, Pennsylvania. In September 1968, Baker was seriously injured in a chainsaw accident in which he nearly cut off one of his legs while cutting down a tree. Baker died from massive blood loss after he refused to consent to a blood transfusion at a Titusville hospital.
Possible Vietnam War "Non-Combatant Service" Enigma
In September 1966, United States Army Specialist 4, Richard Paul Bartle, age 23, from Missouri, died in South Vietnam from injuries caused by the accidental explosion of an undetected American mine located inside the perimeter of a U.S. Army base. Richard P. Bartle's religion was listed as "Jehovah's Witness". Richard Bartle's funeral was held at the Bell Funeral Home Chapel in Pacific, Missouri, and the funeral service was officiated by John Soderlund, who was the Congregation Servant (chief elder) of the Union Missouri Congregation of Jehovah Witnesses.
We have no additional information which could explain how, in April 1965, a Jehovah's Witness male would submit to induction into the U.S. Army as a "Medical Equipment Repairer". (We have not been able to determine that "Medical Equipment Repairer" even was classified as "non-combatant service" in 1965-66. Richard P. Bartle's JW Parents actually told the local newspaper that Bartle was a "Medical Corpsman", or "Medic", which was a "non-combatant" position. Richard Bartle may have lied to his JW Parents, who then passed that lie on to their fellow JWs and the newspaper, or Bartle may have told them the truth, and Bartle's JW Parents may have chosen to lie to their fellow JWs and the newspaper about their son's actual military duties.)
Since Richard Paul Bartle was "unmarried", Bartle was probably reared as a Jehovah's Witness by one or both parents who were Jehovah's Witnesses. Neither do we know whether Bartle had been "baptized" as an official "Jehovah's Witness". However, even an "unofficial, unbaptized" Jehovah's Witness -- much less a "baptized" JW -- who had violated WatchTower Cult policy that prohibited the performance of "non-combatant service" in the military, would not have been permitted the "privilege" of having their funeral conducted by any of the then various "Servants" in the local JW Congregation, much less the highest "Congregation Servant". One can only wonder about the reaction from the WatchTower Cult's "Circuit Servant" (if he had not been consulted), and other Jehovah's Witnesses in that WatchTower Cult circuit and district. Our guess is that -- at best -- the matter was organizationally hushed, and few if any other JWs outside this WatchTower Cult circuit ever learned about this enigmatic scenario.
In 1938, after receiving complaints from local non-JW citizens regarding the vitriol against other religions in the sermons delivered at a recent WatchTower Convention held in their city, the City Council of Seattle, Washington barred Jehovah's Witnesses from future rental of city owned facilities due to such "engendering religious antagonism".
NEW JERSEY v. WILBERT STANTON was a 1945 New Jersey criminal court case. A Jehovah's Witness, named Wilbert Stanton, 42, was laid-off from his job as a Philadelphia-area "shipyard worker" in the weeks that World War II wound down, which would seem to indicate that this JW, like many other hypocritical JWs during WW2, had been employed in a position that involved "war work".
By October 1945, the Stanton family was behind in their apartment rent, and the landlord obtained an eviction order. When a local Constable arrived at the Stanton's apartment to enforce the order, Wilbert Stanton showed a rifle, and threatened to shoot the Constable. When local Police arrived, Stanton also threatened to shoot them, and a "stand-off" developed. After several hours, a local Jehovah's Witness, who was probably Stanton's "company servant", was able to talk Stanton into surrendering. However, the "company servant" was not willing to provide bail for Stanton, who was forced to remain in jail due to lack of funds. Outcome unknown.
In a letter dated April 22, 1939, Judge Rutherford (writing on "Beth-Sarim" stationary) complained to WatchTower Attorney, Olin Moyle, about the fact that his followers were not fighting back:
"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. WOODROW WILSON AMUNRUD was a 1941-43 DRAFT DODGER criminal prosecution and conviction. Son of Norwegian immigrants, farmers, and WatchTower Cult converts, Christian and Caroline Amunrud, of Bagley, Minnesota, Woodrow W. Amunrud ignored the draft as did his five brothers, some of whom did prison time. HOWEVER, 22 year-old Woodrow Amunrud makes our page for having BEAT THE HELL out of the Deputy Marshall sent to arrest him. That Deputy told reporters that Woody Amunrud was the "ugliest and meanest" prisoner with whom he ever had dealt.
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).
GEORGE L. 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.
STATE v. MILTON LEIBY
was a 1940 New Hampshire appellate court decision. Milton L. Leiby, age 43, described as the "leader" of the Jehovah's Witnesses in New Hampshire, thus possibly the WatchTower Society's "Zone Servant" for the state, was arrested and convicted for "Carrying a Concealed Weapon"
, namely, brass knuckles
. Leiby was initially sentenced to one year in prison, but on appeal, he pled "guilty", in exchange for court costs and a suspended sentence.
In November 1940, in Compton, California, a Jehovah's Witness named Forney Box pled "guilty" to "assault" after he struck with a riding crop a World War I veteran who had verbally challenged Box over the contents of anti-government handbills which Box was passing out on a public sidewalk.
TEXAS v. FANNY BROWN was a 1942 Texas criminal court case. A Jehovah's Witness Female, named Fanny Brown, was charged with striking the Chief of Police in Donna, Texas, apparently when he attempted to arrest her for selling WatchTower literature without a license. Outcome unknown.
WALROD v. STATE was a 1945 Oklahoma criminal appellate court case which involved an ongoing battle between the citizens of Stillwater, Oklahoma, and the Jehovah's Witnesses. This was at least the third criminal case which involved the Jehovah's Witness named Mr. E. F. Walrod. Mrs. Walrod was charged in at least one other case. Other JWs were charged in other cases. In this instance, Mr. E. F. Walrod was arrested and convicted of "assault and battery" by a Justice of the Peace. On appeal, a jury also convicted Walrod, which he thereafter appealed.
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.
STATE v. ROBERT MARTIN and STATE v. DONALD BOURNE were related 1941 Wisconsin court decisions. In an April 1941 "trial by jury", which would seem to indicate that the situation was accurately assessed, two Jehovah's Witnesses, Robert Martin, age 21, from Lincoln, Nebraska, and Donald Bourne, age 20, of Jumper, Wisconsin, were convicted of "assault and battery" on a Peshtigo, Wisconsin, farmer, named M. H. Byers. Sentence unknown. This jury trial was actually an appeal from a justice court conviction, where a judge had sentenced the pair to 10 day jail sentences and $10.00 fines. The JWs appealed again. However, when a transcript of the trial was requested, such could not be located due to the death of the court reporter. The judge then granted the JWs' motion for a new trial. Apparently, Byers was irritated with the whole mess, and never showed up for the third trial in October 1941, so the charges were simply "dismissed". The two JWs won because they were prepared to worked the legal system to the nth degree, while the poor farmer had better things to do with his life.
On March 12, 1941, the pair of Jehovah's Witnesses had stopped at the Byers' home, where they started playing a recording of one of Judge Rutherford's denunciations. Although not known, I suspect that the farmer's wife was their audience, and that seeing someone at the farmhouse, the farmer came in from his work to check on his wife. Each side blamed the other for starting the fight, but interestingly, the only indicated physical injuries were to the farmer, who received a lacerated scalp and various body bruises. The farmer did manage to put a shovel through their windshield before they could get away. After the JWs finally got their convictions dismissed, they probably filed a civil lawsuit against the farmer for their windshield.
IDAHO v. JOSEPH GOYEN and IDAHO v. DEWAYNE SINGLETON were related 1955 Idaho court decisions. In January 1955, two Jehovah's Witnesses, Joe Goyen Jr, age 24, and DeWayne Singleton, age 17, called at the Drummond, Idaho, farmhouse of Walter Jones, 50. According to Mrs Jones, she had first told the pair to leave, but they persisted in their message. At some point, Walter Jones came on the scene, and an argument developed. Jones also told the pair to leave, but when the JW Duo apparently were slow in complying, Jones testified that he pushed Goyen out the door. Goyen testified that Jones hit him with his fist, and that was when he, Goyen, blackened the farmer's eye. A fight ensued between the JW Duo and Farmer Jones, Jones' son, and Jones' dog, which took a bite out of Goyen's leg. The fight continued until Goyen pushed Jones into a snowbank, which allowed the JWs to get into their auto and escape. Goyen and Singleton were convicted of assault and battery, and fined $100.00 each, but an appeal was filed. Outcome unknown.
NEW JERSEY v. FREDERICK STEINLE was a 1939 New Jersey Supreme Court decision, which I cannot locate. Sometime in 1937-8, a Jehovah's Witness named Fred Steinle was distributing WatchTower literature when he muttered some type of "indecent" remark to a woman who refused his offer. The woman reported Steinle to the police, and he was arrested for "disorderly conduct", convicted, and sentenced to 90 days in jail. Typical of the JWs in this era to legally "bully" anyone and everyone, even this criminal conviction was appealed all the way to New Jersey's Supreme Court. The JWs contended that Steinle had uttered the offensive remark in a "low tone", thus such did not constitute "disorderly conduct". Outcome unknown.
TEXAS v. ANNE WALLACE and TEXAS v. MARTHA MCDONALD. On June 24, 1940, two Jehovah's Witness females, names Annie Wallace and Martha McDonald, were arrested on the sworn complaint of a San Antonio, Texas female homeowner after the two JWs purposely first refused to leave the woman's front porch, and instead, then started playing a phonograph record of a WatchTower sermon. They were found "not guilty" of "disturbing the peace" in a court trial, which likely featured Hayden Covington as their attorney, given that he was in town at the time fighting a case against the City of San Antonio. The judge in the "disturbing the peace" case ruled that the prosecution simply had not met its burden of proof. It probably was more like the judge would do anything just to get Covington out of his courtroom.
In March 1938, in New Britain, Connecticut, a group of Jehovah's Witnesses went door-to-door passing out anti-Catholic propaganda in a Catholic neighborhood. At one door, when the female householder attempted to close the door on the male JW, he stuck his foot in between the door and the door frame. The Catholic woman then proceeded to crack him over the head with her mop handle. A male Catholic homeowner punched another JW in the nose after learning the topic of the literature that the guy was passing out. Jehovah's Witnesses refer to this as "persecution". Others call it, "What did you expect?"
STATE v. WALTER MOSER was a 1944 Ohio criminal court case. A Jehovah's Witness named Walter E. Moser, 64, was arrested and charged with two counts of disorderly conduct after two Greenfield homeowners complained to police that Moser refused to exit their property and continued to try to force WatchTower literature on them after they had requested that he leave. The Greenfield Police noted that these were not the first complaints that they had received about Moser. Moser was unable to post bond. Outcome unknown.
In 1950, a NYC syndicated columnist asked the following of his readers:
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?
WISCONSIN v. WALTER POWERS was a 1951-53 SUPREME COURT of Wisconsin court case. In January 1951, a Jehovah's Witness named Walter Powers, of Evansville, Wisconsin, was arrested in Stoughton, Wisconsin, on the complaint of a 67 year-old male homeowner, who accused Walter Powers of assaulting him on his own front porch after he had declined Power's request to renew his WATCHTOWER magazine subscription.
During a jury trial, the wife of the defendant and the JW Couple sitting with her in Powers' automobile all three FORESEEABLY testified that the "fight" was 100% the fault of the elderly homeowner. A neighbor testified that she had seen Powers talking through the screendoor to the homeowner, when Powers made a fist and either shook it at the homeowner or hit the screendoor. She testified that it was only then that the elderly homeowner came outside, and punching and wrestling began.
THE JURY found Walter Powers guilty. That conviction was upheld on appeal. However, after that, the WatchTower Society sent in the big gun -- Hayden Covington -- who took the case all the way to Wisconsin's Supreme Court, which reversed the conviction on the grounds that the trial judge had not adequately instructed the Jury on self defense. Outcome unknown.
In a recently de-classified 1977 telegram sent from the U.S. Embassy in Malawi to the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C., embassy officials reported that WatchTower Society Officials had LIED back in 1975 about reports that Jehovah's Witnesses were again being persecuted in Malawi as they had been in 1972-73. The report indicated that some unidentified attorney who was sympathetic to the Jehovah's Witnesses, and who had previously helped the Jehovah's Witnesses, believed that the "atrocity stories put out by the JWs in 1975 were re-dos of 1972-73 events", and that that attorney had stated that WatchTower Society Officials were "quite capable of FALSIFICATIONS and MISSTATEMENTS IN FURTHERANCE OF THEIR CAUSE". Apparently, embassy officials had also personally interviewed Jehovah's Witness Missionaries in two separate parts of Malawi, and none knew firsthand of any atrocities committed against Jehovah's Witnesses in 1975.
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