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Relford v. Commandant, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Ft. Leavenworth

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

401 U.S. 355

Relford  v.  Commandant, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Ft. Leavenworth

 Argued: Dec. 15-16, 1970. --- Decided: Feb 24, 1971


Petitioner, then an Army corporal, was convicted in 1961 by a general courtmartial for violating Articles 134 and 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice by kidnaping and raping, within the bounds of a military reservation, two women-one, who was waiting for her serviceman brother who was visiting the base hospital; the other, who was on her way from the home on the base where she lived with her serviceman husband to the post exchange where she worked. In this habeas corpus proceeding the Court granted certiorari on the issue of the retroactivity and scope of O'Callahan v. Parker, 395 U.S. 258, 89 S.Ct. 1683, 23 L.Ed.2d 291 (1969), which held that a court-martial had no jurisdiction to try a member of the armed forces charged with attempted off-post rape of a civilian and related offenses since such crimes were not 'service connected.' Held:

1. Though some of the factors are present here that the Court relied on for its result in O'Callahan (the offenses were committed in peacetime within this country's territory, did not relate to the accused's military duties, were traditionally cognizable in civilian courts (which were available to try them), and did not directly flout military authority or violate military property), this case significantly differs from O'Callahan in that the crimes there were committed by a serviceman away from his base against a victim who had no connection with the base, whereas here the crimes were committed on the base against women properly there, one of whom was returning to her work on the base when the attack occurred. Pp. 364-365.

2. An offense committed by a serviceman on a military post that violates the security of a person or of property there is service connected and may be tried by a court-martial. Pp. 367 369.

3. The question of O'Callahan's retroactivity is not decided. Pp. 369-370.

409 F.2d 824, affirmed.

Judson W. Detrick, Denver, Colo., for petitioner.

Sol. Gen. Erwin N. Griswold, for respondent.

Mr. Justice BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).