Washington (Nov. 22)
Chief Justice Bolitha J. Laws in Federal District Court today dismissed the wartime mass sedition case, granting defense motions by the 26 defendants, who were charged in April, 1944, with conspiracy to interfere with the draft and to undermine the morale of the armed forces. Among the defendants are some of the principal anti-Semites in the country.
The Justice Department announced immediately that it will appeal the decisions. Attorney General Tom Clark has instructed Department attorneys to draw up the necessary papers and an appeal hearing will be held on Dec. 2.
The Department had announced yesterday that it was ready to retry the case and was prepared to submit a confidential report which O. John Rogge, former prosecutor on the case, made after an investigation in Germany.
After indictment in April, 1944 the defendants were placed on trial. Eight months later, with the Government’s evidence not yet completed, the presiding judge died and a mis-trial was declared.
In dismissing the indictments Laws said; “Under the circumstances, to permit another trial, which conceivably would last more than a year, with new prosecutors and newly appointed counsel for defendants, with the eventual outcome in serious doubt … would be a travesty on justice.
“I can reach no other conclusion than that there is serious doubt as to the validity of these cases,” he continued. “More than eight months is an abnormally long time to be required by the prosecution to establish guilt in a clear case.”
Laws pointed out that the witnesses are now scattered, some no longer available, and that the memories of witnesses as to events occurring many years ago are not clear.
“It is for these persons among others that the Constitution requires a speedy trial and that the Congress has imposed a statute of limitations to prevent long delayed prosecutions. I do not see how these defendants can now possibly obtain fair trials.”