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SIMMONS V. UNITED STATES, 348 U. S. 397 (1955)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Simmons v. United States, 348 U.S. 397 (1955)

Simmons v. United States

No. 251

Argued February 2, 1955

Decided March 14, 1955

348 U.S. 397


Petitioner, a member of Jehovah's Witnesses who had sought and had been denied conscientious objector exemption, was convicted under the Universal Military Training and Service Act for refusal to submit to induction into the armed forces.

Held: in the circumstances of this case, the failure of the Department of Justice to furnish petitioner with a fair resume of all adverse information in the Federal Bureau of Investigation report deprived him of the "hearing" provided by § 6(j) of the Act, and the conviction is reversed. Pp. 348 U. S. 398-406.

(a) The requirement of § 6(j) that a fair resume of FBI reports be made available to the registrant is not a matter of grace within the Department's discretion, but is an essential element in the processing of conscientious objector claims. P. 348 U. S. 403.

(b) The Government's contention that petitioner failed to make a timely request for the summary cannot be sustained; nor may petitioner be deemed to have waived his rights in this respect. P. 348 U. S. 404.

(c) The remarks of the hearing officer at the hearing in the Department did not give petitioner adequate notice of the unfavorable evidence in the FBI report, and the hearing was therefore lacking in basic fairness. Pp. 348 U. S. 404-405.

(d) A fair resume is one which will permit the registrant to defend against the adverse evidence -- to explain it, rebut it, or otherwise detract from its damaging force. P. 348 U. S. 405.

(e) The Government's contention that no prejudice was shown and none resulted cannot be sustained. Pp. 348 U. S. 405-406.

(f) Petitioner has been deprived of the fair hearing required by the Act, a fundamental safeguard, and he need not specify the precise manner in which he would have used this right -- and how such use would have aided his cause -- in order to complain of the deprivation. P. 348 U. S. 406.

213 F.2d 901 reversed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 348 U. S. 398

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