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UNITED STATES v. MACK

April 21, 1970

UNITED STATES of America
v.
Ronald Thomas MACK, Defendant


Lasker, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: LASKER

LASKER, District Judge.

Ronald Mack was accused of refusing to submit to induction into the Armed Forces, in violation of the Military Selective Service Act of 1967, 50 U.S.C.A. App. ยง 462(a). At the conclusion of the presentation of the evidence at his trial, he moved for a judgment of acquittal pursuant to Rule 29, F.R. Crim. Proc., 18 U.S.C.A. I granted the motion, for the reasons stated herein.

 Mack registered with Local Board No. 12 the day of his eighteenth birthday, September 19, 1966. On December 14, 1966 he was classified I-S (Deferment; High School Student). About one year later, in December 1967, he became a believer in the tenets of the Nation of Islam, whose adherents are commonly known as the "Black Muslims."

 Local Board No. 12 classified Mack 1-A on January 16, 1968, and notified him accordingly. He neither requested a personal appearance nor appealed that classification. On March 13, 1968 he was given a pre-induction physical examination, which he passed. On the same day he sent to the Draft Board the following letter, which was received by the Board on March 15:

 
"Dear Sir:
 
"My religion of Islam believe [sic] that we who declared ourselves to be righteous Muslims, should not participate in wars which take the lives of humans. I would like to have a meeting upon request on changing my classification to conscientious objector.
 
Thank you.
 
Ronald 40X Mack"

 Mrs. Georgette Ward, the Executive Secretary of Local Board No. 12, a fulltime clerical employee, responded to Mack's letter by sending him Form 150, the questionnaire for conscientious objectors. However, she did not invite Mack to appear before the Board for an interview, although, according to her testimony, the Board's policy entrusted her with the responsibility of sending such letters. Nor did she advise the Board that Mack had written a letter setting forth a claim of conscientious objection. Mack did not fill out or return the Form 150.

 On May 7, 1968, the Board mailed an Order to Report for Induction to the defendant. The induction date was scheduled for May 21. Three days later, however, on May 10, Mrs. Ward sent a letter to Mack requesting him to report for an interview before the Board on May 15. Mrs. Ward testified that the purpose of the interview was to ascertain why Mack had failed to return the Form 150. But it was not until May 15, the night of the interview, that the Board members first learned that Mack had been sent the Form 150.

 At the interview, Mack explained that he had not submitted the Form 150 because he knew that if he were called for induction he would refuse to step forward, and because his March 13 letter stated his position. The Board advised him that he could still file the form and that it would request authority from Headquarters to postpone his induction pending its receipt. Mack agreed to fill the form out, and he filed it with the Board on May 22, 1968. The Board received authority to postpone the induction until June, and scheduled another meeting with Mack for June 11.

 At the June 11 meeting, the Board members interviewed Mack as to his claim of conscientious objection. They had before them his completed Form 150, which contained three separate reiterations of the principle, previously asserted by Mack in his March 13 letter, that "Muslims should not participate in wars which take the lives of humans." At one point on the Form 150 Mack added: "We do not believe this nation should force us to take part in such war, for we have nothing to gain from it unless America agrees to give up the necessary territory whereon we may have something to fight for."

 After the interview, the Board summarized its conclusions as follows:

 
"Board does not believe registrant is sincere in his assertion of conscientious objection to participation in war in any form. Registrant also refuses to participate in noncombatant training or ...

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