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decided: June 7, 1943.



Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Murphy, Jackson, Rutledge

Author: Reed

[ 319 U.S. Page 485]

 MR. JUSTICE REED delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the question of the sufficiency of the evidence to support petitioner's conviction under ยง 11 of the Selective Training and Service Act and the regulations made thereunder,*fn1 for a knowing failure to keep his local board*fn2 advised of the address where mail would reach petitioner, a registrant under the Act. A second count, on which petitioner was acquitted and which need not concern us further, charged a knowing failure to comply with an order to report for induction into the armed forces. Certiorari was granted because the conviction involved an interpretation of an important regulation under the Selective Service Act.

With the approval of both parties and the court, petitioner was tried by the court without a jury and on conviction was sentenced to imprisonment for sixty days. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, one judge dissenting. 132 F.2d 348.

[ 319 U.S. Page 486]

     Petitioner was placed in class 1-A, available for general military service, by Local Board No. 9 in Houston, Texas. He had already been given a final physical examination by the Army. On February 4, 1942, petitioner was advised by his board that his induction would probably take place in twenty or thirty days. He immediately sought employment as a merchant seaman for a short coastwise trip. Employment as messman was secured through the National Maritime Union which had active offices in Houston and in New York. The latter city was the port of destination of the ship Pan Rhode Island upon which petitioner first shipped. Bartchy secured a union permit card prior to the voyage and later became a regular member of the union. The Pan Rhode Island sailed from Texas City February 11th and petitioner received his certificate of discharge from her employment in New York February 20th.

On February 10th Bartchy advised the board by letter that he was shipping as a seaman on the S. S. Caliche. He corrected the name on the same day to the S. S. Pan Maine. No notice was given the board as to the ship upon which he actually sailed. In the letter he suggested deferment from induction into military service on the ground of employment in the merchant marine and requested that in case deferment was granted it be addressed to 8045 Harrisburg Boulevard, Houston. This was the office of the National Maritime Union and was different from his address, 7543 Harrisburg Boulevard, previously given the board. Bartchy arranged with the Houston office of the union to forward his induction notice to the union's New York office.

On, or shortly after, February 20, 1942, a notice to report for induction on March 4 was mailed to petitioner. It arrived at the Houston office of the union promptly and was forwarded to its New York office pursuant to the instructions left by petitioner. The record does not show

[ 319 U.S. Page 487]

     the exact time the letter reached New York. The notice was returned March 12th to the board by the union in an envelope bearing the union's New York return address and postmarked Houston, Texas, the same day. It was not delivered to petitioner although, as will later appear, he was in New York harbor at the time.

On arrival in New York about February 20th, petitioner talked with Merrell, an executive at that office of the union, and inquired for mail from his local board. None was there. On February 25th through the union he obtained a job on the S. S. American Packard, berthed at Hoboken, and was on board until March 11th. Sometime between February 20th, when the notice was mailed at Houston, and March 12th, when it was received by the local board at Houston, the letter was in Merrell's hands in New York at the union office. Bartchy was not advised by Merrell of the receipt of the notice to report for induction. The Federal Bureau of Investigation first sought information from Merrell as to Bartchy's whereabouts on March 10th and 11th. Merrell thereupon informed Bartchy that he was sought after by the F. B. I. and he came into the union office on March 11th and was taken into custody.

Bartchy admitted that he knew that the American Packard was bound for a foreign port and that he was willing to make the trip unless the induction notice was received. The ship was not to sail immediately on February 25th and he was not required to sign articles for the trip; that would be requested of him just before sailing and after the examination of the seamen by the federal, particularly naval, representatives. He "had every reason to think" that before sailing date he would have word from the board. Asked what he would have done if he were requested to ...

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