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Toth v. Quarles - A Death In Korea, A Gap In Jurisdiction

military court decision justice


Audrey M. Toth


Donald A. Quarles, Secretary of the U.S. Air Force

Appellant's Claim

That the U.S. District Court of Appeals erred in holding Robert Toth liable to prosecution under Article 3(a) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

William A. Kehoe, Jr.

Chief Lawyers for Appellee

Simon E. Sobeloff, Solicitor General; Lt. Col. Chester W. Wilson

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black (writing for the Court), Tom C. Clark, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, John Marshall Harlan II, Earl Warren

Justices Dissenting

Harold Burton, Sherman Minton, Stanley Forman Reed


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

7 November 1955


The appeals court decision was reversed, allowing Toth to avoid prosecution.


The decision declared the 1950 Uniform Code of Military Justice to be unconstitutional, thus barring trials of civilians for crimes committed while in the armed forces.

Further Readings

  • Bishop, Joseph W., Jr. Justice Under Fire: A Study of Military Law. New York: Charterhouse, 1974.
  • "Crucial Case of Murder." Time, 31 August 1953, p. 10.
  • Huston, Luther A. "Military Trial of Civilians Upheld For Major Crimes During Service." New York Times, 26 March 1954, p. 1.
  • ------. New York Times, 7 November 1955, p. 1.
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