New Habeas Cases
New Habeas Cases
The Provost Courts on Trial
The next phase of the legal challenge was initiated by three prisoners who were not internees but had been convicted for ordinary crimes by the provost courts. The most celebrated of all the Hawai`i cases was that of a civil shipyard worker, Lloyd Duncan, convicted of assault on two military sentries. Judge Metzger presided in spring 1944 over an extended habeas hearing in which General Richardson and Admiral Nimitz reasserted the absolute need for the revised martial law regime as it then stood, including denial of the habeas privilege. Metzger ruled flatly against the Army’s authority to try civilians in provost courts for ordinary crimes. Meanwhile in the other federal district court, Judge J. Frank McLaughlin similarly granted habeas and released two prisoners, in one case on general grounds that the military’s full seizure of power was unconstitutional, and in the other on finding the prisoner had been blatantly denied even the rudiments of a fair trial. Again the Army appealed the district court rulings to the Ninth Circuit, and again the habeas decisions were overruled—thus setting the stage in November 1944 for a test in the U.S. Supreme Court.
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