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UNITED STATES v. AULL

April 20, 1972

UNITED STATES of America,
v.
Robert Edwin AULL, Defendant


Edward Weinfeld, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINFELD

EDWARD WEINFELD, District Judge.

The defendant, charged with willful refusal to submit to induction into the Armed Forces, *fn1" waived trial by jury. Upon conclusion of the trial, the court granted the defendant's request for leave to submit briefs and reserved decision on his motion for judgment of acquittal.

 The essential fact that the defendant intentionally and willfully refused to take the symbolic one step forward on April 7, 1971, when he reported and was found acceptable for induction is not in dispute. His assigned reason was that he was a conscientious objector. The defendant urges he is entitled to a judgment of acquittal upon two grounds: (1) that the failure of the Local Board and the Appeal Board to state adequately the reasons for denial of his application for conscientious objector classification (Class I-O) *fn2" was a denial of due process of law; and (2) that the Local Board's failure to forward to the induction center a letter from a psychologist and one from a drug center in support of his claim of medical disqualification was prejudicial error and in violation of Selective Service regulations.

 Upon a thorough review of each document in defendant's Selective Service file, full consideration of the trial testimony, the arguments and briefs of counsel, I find that the claims are without substance and that upon the entire record the government has sustained its burden of proof as to each essential element, and accordingly find the defendant guilty.

 The defendant registered with his Local Board in November 1968. In completing his classification questionnaire, he made no claim that he was a conscientious objector and was classified I-A on April 16, 1969. Previously, in September 1968, he had entered Syracuse University and in November 1969 was granted a II-S student deferment, *fn3" effective until September 30, 1970. Before that date, however, on June 25, he advised his Local Board he was leaving college and requested a conscientious objector classification. The Board promptly sent him the required form for conscientious objector application (SSS Form 150), which after some delay the defendant completed and returned to the Board on September 14, 1970. In answer to the inquiry as to the nature of his beliefs, he stated:

 
"I am a human animal born onto a planet with the right to freely pursue my own peace of mind. I have found that the purpose we all are here is to unite ourselves with the Lord. I repeat, I was born onto a planet not into a country. . . . Countries are something that narrowminded men have created . . . I cannot see myself risking my life (my most precious possession) fighting or helping an entity that truthfully does not exist !"

 In explaining the source of his beliefs, he wrote:

 
"I cannot give a source other than my entire life leading up to the point where total understanding occurred to me. All I can say is that it was similar to having the universe dissolve into a pool of clear and endless light. This experience happened in April of 1970."

 His wife of three months provided the only support for his claim in a letter which, in addition to setting forth her own objections to the war in Vietnam and condemning the current state of American society, corroborated in conclusory terms the defendant's "beliefs against war in any form, and all killings regardless of motivations. . . . [He] believes no motivations are justifiable for the destruction of another human being."

 The Board granted the defendant a discretionary interview, which was conducted on October 7, 1970. At its outset a problem arose when the oath was administered to the registrant, to which he replied, "I will [do] the best I can." He sought to hedge his answers under oath "with a qualification requested," but said he had "no objections to telling the truth, but truth is something [he] cannot explain." He finally took an unequivocal oath when he was advised no interview would be granted if he "could not make up his mind to what reply was going to be given." He was told that any questions he did not understand would be clarified.

 Aull testified that his thoughts had "firmed up" when he entered college (September 1968), but had been advised by the resident advisor there not to submit the SSS Form 150 at that time due to priority of draft eligibility. He stated that all wars were "pointless"; however, he would not commit himself as to whether a war is moral or immoral or justified. The file reflects that the four Board members who interviewed the defendant listened to him, considered the evidence in his file, discussed his case, and concluded: "[There] is no valid reason for granting him a C.O. status. He failed to convince us that he was an objector who is sincerely conscientious about his claim, as he was not sure as to just why he was applying for a C.O. status." Accordingly, by a vote of 4-0, he was classified I-A. Upon his appeal, *fn4" the Appeal Board continued his I-A classification.

 The Supreme Court recently summarized the essential requirements to sustain a conscientious objector claim:

 
"In order to qualify for classification as a conscientious objector, a registrant must satisfy three basic tests. He must show that he is conscientiously opposed to war in any form. Gillette v. United States, 401 U.S. 437, [91 S. Ct. 828, 28 L. Ed. 2d 168]. He must show that this opposition is based upon religious training and belief, as the term has been construed in our decisions. United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163, [85 S. Ct. 850, 13 L. Ed. 2d 733]; Welsh v. United States, 398 U.S. 333, [90 S. Ct. 1792, 26 L. Ed. 2d 308]. And he must show that this objection is ...

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