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ANDREWS v. KNOWLTON

December 7, 1973

Albert E. ANDREWS, III, Plaintiff,
v.
Lieutenant General William KNOWLTON, Superintendent, United States Military Academy, et al., Defendants


Whitman Knapp, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: KNAPP

WHITMAN KNAPP, District Judge.

This action was commenced on June 4, 1973 by a West Point Cadet who has been found by a Board of Officers to have violated the Cadet Honor Code by making a false statement, and thus faces imminent separation from the Academy and the prospect of serving two years in the military as an enlisted man. The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that the Academy proceedings which established his violation be rendered void, and injunctive relief to prevent his separation.

 On June 14, 1973 the Court dismissed the complaint in White v. Knowlton, 361 F. Supp. 445, a suit brought by other West Point Cadets. The government thereafter moved to dismiss here, and plaintiff cross-moved for summary judgment or in the alternative for leave to proceed with discovery.

 Insofar as the complaint in the instant case states claims that were rejected in White, they are dismissed for the reasons there stated. The questions remaining to be decided are:

 1. Whether the exclusionary rule should have been applied to suppress false statements made by plaintiff;

 2. Whether the Uniform Code of Military Justice should have governed the proceedings rather than administrative procedure, and

 3. Whether discovery should be permitted in aid of plaintiff's attempt to establish that the Board of Officers may have been a) fatally biased against him, and b) tainted by the Cadet Honor Committee proceedings.

 The Facts

 On February 4, 1973, after having been observed for several hours sitting in a car on the Academy grounds, the plaintiff was apprehended by military police and charged with a disciplinary infraction described as "gross lack of judgment."

 Academy regulations require that cadets charged with such infractions furnish to the authorities statements called "held reports" or "Explanations of Report." On February 7 and 8 plaintiff provided such accounts of the episode. In the latter account he claimed that he had been improperly on the premises for only a short while. That statement was in conflict with those made by the military police, who stated that they had observed plaintiff on the grounds for several hours. Accordingly plaintiff's reports were referred to the Cadet Honor Committee for investigation into the possible violation of the Honor Code maxim that "a cadet does not lie . . . ." In March the Committee charged plaintiff with a violation for having lied in the Report and subsequently "convicted" him of it. Thereafter plaintiff requested that a Board of Officers be convened to hold a hearing on the charge. Upon a full hearing at which the statements were received in evidence, the Board issued its finding that plaintiff had lied about the length of time he had been on campus on the night in question.

 1. Suppression

 Briefly stated, plaintiff's contention is that Miranda warnings should have preceded the request that he submit his second Explanation of Report, and the failure to administer the warnings should have triggered the exclusionary rule as to that Report.

 Generally speaking, Miranda warnings need only be given when a person, upon whom suspicion has focused for commission of a crime, is interrogated by law enforcement officials under such circumstances that he feels his freedom of movement is restricted.

 The Court however need not decide whether the facts of this case describe a situation sufficiently custodial to have required Miranda warnings, because the Court finds persuasive the government's contention that in any event failure to give warnings cannot excuse subsequent ...


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