Monthly Archives: September 2016

Jackson List: Judgments Days in Nuremberg (1946)

Greetings from Nuremberg, Germany, where I am honored to be participating in conference events and ceremonies commemorating the anniversary of the conclusion of the international Nuremberg trial.

Seventy years ago, on September 30, 1946, Justice Robert H. Jackson spent his final night here in Nuremberg, in what then was the United States occupation zone of what had been, before its unconditional surrender, Nazi Germany.

As United States Chief of Counsel since May 1945, Justice Jackson had negotiated with British, French and Soviet allies the creation of the International Military Tribunal (IMT), supervised the gathering and analysis of voluminous evidence, approved and brought criminal charges against twenty-four Nazi leaders and six Nazi organizations and, in November 1945, opened history’s first international prosecution for crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

During the next eight months, Justice Jackson worked in Nuremberg as a trial prosecutor and as an administrator of a large U.S. staff and a four-nation prosecution while also working throughout Europe as a leading occupation government official and U.S. diplomat.

Jackson’s active work in Nuremberg concluded when he delivered his closing argument to the IMT on July 26, 1946.  Five days later, he left Nuremberg temporarily, returning to the U.S. and Supreme Court work while part of his team remained in Nuremberg to present evidence against the indicted organizations and to sum up those cases, and then while the IMT judges deliberated and wrote their judgment.

Jackson landed back in Washington on August 2, 1946.  He remained there, living in his Virginia home and working at the Supreme Court, until September 18.  He then flew back to Europe, accompanied by some of his friends—Charles A. Horsky, Francis M. Shea, Robert G. Storey, and Father Edmund A. Walsh, S.J.—who had been senior members of his U.S. prosecution team during various pretrial and trial phases.  They were going back to Nuremberg to witness the IMT judgment, which was scheduled to be handed down on September 23.

After refueling stops in Goose Bay, Labrador, and in Iceland, Jackson and his delegation landed in Paris on September 20.  They learned then that the IMT had announced that its judgment would not be announced until September 30.

Justice Jackson, who had missed the previous Supreme Court term (a full year of Court work), was determined to be back on the bench in Washington when the new term began on October 7, 1946, the first Monday in October.  The IMT’s unexpected delay meant that Jackson would have almost no leeway in his travel schedule.

Jackson also, since leaving Nuremberg at the end of July, no longer had a requisitioned residence there—“his” house had passed to others.

So in late September 1946, Jackson stayed in Paris.  He worked on drafting his final report to President Truman.  He wrote and sent memoranda and cables, including back to the War Department about Nuremberg trial matters.  He also worked, it seems, on a major speech that he had agreed to deliver, long before he knew how squeezed his schedule would become, at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, on October 4.

Jackson flew from Paris to Nuremberg a few days later, but he was called back to Paris almost immediately by his friend and former U.S. Supreme Court colleague James F. Byrnes, who a year earlier had become U.S. Secretary of State.  They discussed many matters.  Some related to Germany and the Nuremberg trial.  Others concerned the Supreme Court.  One matter was Byrnes’s support for the idea of Jackson becoming U.S. Ambassador in London if, as some press reports then had it, Jackson wanted that job.  He made clear to Byrnes that he did not.

On one of their Paris afternoons together, Byrnes added Jackson to the U.S. delegation at the peace conference that was ongoing at the Quai D’Orsay.  Having experienced months of “simultaneous” (which really meant somewhat-close-to-simultaneous) four-language interpretation during the Nuremberg trial, Jackson reported that at the Paris conference it was “terribly dull to listen to interpretations into 3 other languages, 1 by 1 after [each] speaker finished.  Awful.”

On Saturday, September 28, 1946, Jackson and guests flew from Paris back to Nuremberg.  His weekend there was filled with work meetings and social activities.  Many of his travelling companions found extremely comfortable, indeed fancy, quarters.

Having lost his house, Jackson, along with his son and executive assistant Lieutenant William E. Jackson (U.S. Navy Reserve), his secretary Mrs. Elsie Douglas, and his nephew Private Harold J. Adams (U.S. Army), bunked in servants’ quarters on the top floor of a requisitioned German mansion.

Private Adams, serving in the U.S. Army of occupation, had been ordered to Nuremberg by Lieutenant General Lucius D. Clay, Deputy Military Governor in the Office of Military Government for Germany (U.S.) and thus “General” (assimilated rank) Robert Jackson’s superior officer.  Gen. Clay took this action at Jackson’s request.  He  wanted his nephew to see history.

On Monday, September 30, 1946, the IMT judges began to read their lengthy Judgment.  The IMT affirmed the validity, in international law, of each crime charged in the indictment.  That afternoon, the court returned its verdicts—some convictions, some acquittals—on the indicted organizations.  That night, Jackson hosted a dinner and then retired to his room under the eaves.

On Tuesday, October 1, 1946, the IMT delivered its verdicts on the twenty-two individual defendants.  Nineteen were found guilty and three were found not guilty.  Of the nineteen, seven were sentenced to terms of imprisonment and twelve were sentenced to death by hanging.

Immediately after the IMT adjourned for the last time, Justice Jackson issued a written statement.  He said that he was gratified that the Tribunal had sustained and applied the principle that aggressive war is a crime for which statesmen may individually be punished.  He said that he had not had time to study other aspects of the intricate opinion.  He expressed regret that the Tribunal had acquitted two defendants, Hjalmar Schacht and Franz von Papen, and that it had declined to declare the criminality of the German Army General Staff, admitting that “[o]ur argument for their conviction … seemed so convincing to all of us prosecutors” and saying that they would have to study the effect of those acquittals on further prosecutions of industrialists and military officers.

Jackson’s statement closed with a reflective, long view:

I personally regard the conviction or sentence of individuals as of secondary importance compared with the significance of the commitment by the four [Allied] nations to the position that wars of aggression are criminal and that persecution of conquered minorities on racial, religious or political grounds is likewise criminal.  These principles of law will influence future events long after the fate of particular individuals is forgotten.

At 5:30 p.m. that afternoon, Jackson left Nuremberg.  His plane made stops in Paris, the Azores and Stephenville, Newfoundland.  Before the next day, October 2, was done, he was back in Washington.

On October 3, Justice Jackson was back in his Supreme Court chambers, where he found “an awful pile of work that had accumulated in [his] absence.”

Jackson traveled from Washington to Buffalo and delivered his first post-Nuremberg speech there on October 4, 1946.

Three days later, he was present on the bench when the Supreme Court began its new term.

He never again left North America.

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This post was emailed to the Jackson List, a private but entirely non-selective email list that reaches many thousands of subscribers around the world. I write to it periodically about Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg and related topics. The Jackson List archive site is http://thejacksonlist.com/.  To subscribe, email me at barrettj@stjohns.edu. Thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.

Jackson List: Wedding in Cold Spring Harbor (1944)

On this date in 1944, Ensign William Eldred Jackson (United States Navy Reserve), age 25, and Nancy-Dabney Roosevelt, age 21, married in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York.

The wedding, occurring on a Sunday night during wartime, was not a large affair.  The couple married in St. John’s Church, located near the Turkey Lane home of Nancy’s parents, Lieutenant Colonel Archibald B. Roosevelt (U.S. Army) and Grace Lockwood Roosevelt.  Lt. Col. Roosevelt had been in active military service, and seriously wounded, in the Pacific Theater.  That September, he somehow made it home, quite ill, only shortly before the wedding.

Cold Spring Harbor is a bit west of Oyster Bay, a town that was a childhood home of Archie, his siblings and his parents.  His father, Colonel (and also President of the United States) Theodore Roosevelt, had died in 1919, a few years before Nancy’s birth.  In 1944, her grandmother, former First Lady Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt, age 83, was still living in her home, Sagamore Hill, and she was a beaming wedding guest.

So were Bill Jackson’s parents, Justice Robert H. Jackson and Irene Jackson.  Travelling north from Virginia, they attended the wedding and then the reception dinner that followed at the home of Archie and Grace.

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The Reverend Albert Lucas of St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., Bill’s alma mater, officiated at the wedding.  Nancy was attended by her sisters and others.  Bill’s best man was his father, Robert Jackson.  Reverend Lucas remembered, years later, what a “tribute”—I believe in both directions, son-to-father and father-to-son—“that conveyed to all present at the ceremony.”

Bill and Nancy were married for fifty-five years, until his death in 1999, and she died in 2010.  I was lucky to know each of them, and to benefit from their generous friendship.  I still do.  And of course I am thinking of them on this, their anniversary evening.

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For a 2003 film clip of Nancy Jackson recalling her father-in-law, whom she adored (you’ll see, and the feeling was very mutual), click here.

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This post was emailed to the Jackson List, a private but entirely non-selective email list that reaches many thousands of subscribers around the world. I write to it periodically about Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg and related topics. The Jackson List archive site is http://thejacksonlist.com/.  To subscribe, email me at barrettj@stjohns.edu. Thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.

“He’s Been Shot. HELP Him!”

I assume that when a police officer comes upon an injured, and especially a gravely injured, person, the officer typically calls for medical help (EMS) and then, while waiting for its arrival, provides whatever first aid and comfort the officer can.

This seems not to be happening in instances where the person has been injured by the police—and to be specific, where the person has been shot by the police.  This New York Times story chronicles a number of incidents, captured on publicly-released video, where recent police shootings have been followed by groups of officers standing around, just looking at the shot, often dying, person.

Many things might cause this inaction.  At the threshold, some situations and settings might be actively dangerous—a shot person is not automatically safe to approach or to touch.  Some officers, especially shooters, might also be in a kind of shock, frozen in the moment.  Some officers, not knowing much first aid, might feel unqualified to do anything.  Some shooting victims are, possibly, so obviously “gone” that nothing will aid them.  But some police inaction might be based in callousness, and in failures of trainers and commanders to encourage, direct and build human empathy.

We—society, and every police chief, and every individual officer—need to fix this.  Policing, properly done, is about law enforcement.  But it also is about caring for the community, and each person among us.  We recognize this in our constitutional law:  the Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, including touching and handling persons, but it is objectively reasonable for police officers to engage in searches and seizures when they are trying to help an injured person.  (See Chief Justice Roberts’s 2006 opinion for the unanimous Supreme Court in Brigham City v. Stuart.)

Yes, it can be constitutionally reasonable for the police to seize a person by, for valid reasons, shooting him or her—that is the lawful use of deadly force.  But even after a lawful seizure of a person, the government may not arbitrarily cause suffering.  (Think of a convicted criminal lawfully incarcerated.  The government has seized him.  But it may not then torture him or, without reason, deny him basic attention, care and sustenance.)

I have never come upon a shooting victim.  But I have seen injuries, and I have been injured—as you have too.  As a bystander, I’ve tried to help—to perform modest first aid, to speak words of comfort, to stay at the side of the person in pain.  As a victim, I’ve received the first aid, the kind words, the held hand, and I’ve been grateful.  It seems a basic thing that makes our world decent.

Our cops—our community caretakers—should jump in to care for injured people as much, as often, as reflexively, as they jump into situations to enforce our laws.  I believe that this instinct is already in most cops as people, or it was.  It should be reignited, trained, encouraged, rewarded, applauded.

Every victim of violence is a person whom the police have, commendably, sworn to protect.