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January 15, 1954


The opinion of the court was delivered by: KNIGHT

Defendant, 22 years of age, has been indicted for refusal to be inducted into the armed services of the United States in violation of Title 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, § 462.

On May 11, 1953, defendant was arraigned and entered a plea of not guilty to the charge. By consent trial was had to the court without a jury on December 21, 1953, and briefs were filed, the last one on January 5, 1954.

 At the trial the Government produced the file of the Local Board No. 63, Erie, Pennsylvania, containing its data in relation to defendant, which defendant's counsel stipulated might be marked in evidence without further proof. From this file it appears that defendant prepared the Selective Service System Classification Questionnaire which was received by the Local Board on February 5, 1951. In his original questionaire defendant stated that he is a minister of religion and had been a minister of Jehovah's Witnesses since April 1, 1945; that he was ordained August 7, 1946, and further 'I am a student preparing for the ministry under the direction of Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in a theological or divinity school. * * * I am attending the Theocratic Ministry School located at 716 French St., Erie, Pa.' While the file is replete with affidavits and statements, since the filing of the questionaire, of his being a Jehovah's Witness, including the certificate of the organization's president, and a 'full time' minister despite defendant's having stated in his questionnaire that he was a part time serviceman working 'an average of 40 hours per week.'

 Defendant also filed a special form for conscientious objector on February 9, 1951, subject to his 'claim under Sections 6(g) and 16(g) of the Act,' to which was attached a 'Certificate for Pioneer' of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society signed and verified by T. J. Sullivan, Superintendent of Ministers and Evangelists. The certificate states as follows:

 'Certificate for Pioneer

 'This is to certify that Richard E. Lowman is a duly ordained minister of Jehovah's witnesses, engaged, as his customary vocation, in preaching and teaching the principles of this Society and administering the rites and ceremonies thereof in public worship.

 'He has been duly ordained in accordance with the principles prescribed by this Society. This was by a public ceremonial on July, 1946 whereby he confessed in the presence of witnesses that his life thereafter dedicated to service of Almighty God Jehovah as a minister and to follow in the footsteps of Christ Jesus preaching His kingdom of righteousness. Since such date he has been recognized by this Society as qualified to represent it in such capacity.

 'He was duly appointed on September 1, 1950 as a 'pioneer' minister and acts as a direct representative of this organization and has since been organizing and establishing churches and generally preaching the doctrine and principles of Jehovah's witnesses in a territory assigned to him. He is authorized to perform the ordinary rites and ceremonies recognized and employed by Jehovah's witnesses, such as the baptismal ceremony, the burial ceremony, etc.

 'He is therefore declared and certified by this Society to be, in accordance with its principles, a duly ordained minister, having the qualifications to preach 'the gospel of God's kingdom'. (Isaiah 61:1, 2; Matthew 24:14)'

 A letter addressed to the Local Board by M. R. Hamilton, Company Servant for Jehovah's Witnesses of Erie, Pa., East Unit, he states: 'He (defendant) is now one of the official Servants of the Company of Jehovah's Witnesses * * *. Mr. Lowman is truly a full time Minister of our religion, which is recognized as a legal religious organization.'

 On the original Questionnaire defendant was classified 1-A. Thereupon he appealed to the Local Board and asked for a personal appearance which was granted and resulted in a classification of IV-E. On appeal therefrom to the State Appeal Board defendant on December 14, 1951, was classified as 1-O. The file was then sent by the Appeal Board, State of Pennsylvania, to the United States Attorney for review and hearing, with a transmittal letter stating:

 'The file of the above registrant (this defendant) has been reviewed by members of the Appeal Board and they are of the opinion that he is not entitled to a class lower than Class 4-E or to Class 4-E. * * *.'

 The Hearing Officer conducted a hearing pursuant to Section 6(j) of the Act of 1948 and made a written report with his ...

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