United States v. L. A. Tucker Truck Lines, Inc., 344 U.S. 33 (1952)

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Author: Justice Douglas

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United States v. L. A. Tucker Truck Lines, Inc., 344 U.S. 33 (1952)

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, dissenting.

This decision gives a capricious twist to the law. One would assume from a reading of the opinion in Wong Yang Sung v. McGrath, 339 U.S. 33, that the failure of a federal agency to use the type of examiner prescribed by Congress in the Administrative Procedure Act, 60 Stat. 237, 5 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., vitiated the proceedings whether objection was raised or not. The Congress decided to separate the judicial functions of examiners from the investigative and prosecuting functions. It required the separation in cases involving property interests, as well as those involving personal liberty. It condemned as unfair a practice which had grown up of allowing one man to be the police officer, the prosecutor, and the judge.

Violation of that requirement led the Court in Wong Yang Sung’s case to issue a writ of habeas corpus to save an alien from deportation where the hearing examiner did not meet the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. That was a collateral attack on the administrative proceeding, successfully made even though no objection to the examiner was raised at the hearing.*

The objection raised in the present case likewise was not made at the hearing, but it was made before review of the order had been completed. It would seem, therefore, that reversal of this administrative order would follow a fortiori from Wong Yang Sung’s case.

No one knows how the commingling of police, prosecutor, and judicial functions in one person may affect a particular decision. In some situations, it might make no difference; in others, it might subtly corrupt the administrative process. The only important consideration for us is that Congress has condemned the practice, and we, as supervisors of the federal system, should see to it that the law is enforced not selectively, but in all cases coming before us.

Of course, an agency that flouts the mandate for fair examiners does not lose jurisdiction of the case. Even habeas corpus is no longer restricted to the testing of "jurisdiction" in the historic sense. See Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 467; Bowen v. Johnston, 306 U.S. 19, 24. But the action of the Commission in the present case created an error that permeates the entire proceeding. It is error that goes to the very vitals of the case. I would therefore set aside the order and send the case back for a hearing that meets the statutory standards of fairness. I would make the rule of Wong Yang Sung’s case good for more than the day and the occasion.

* And the alien in that case, like the respondent here, was represented by counsel in the administrative proceedings.

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Chicago: Douglas, "Douglas, J., Dissenting," United States v. L. A. Tucker Truck Lines, Inc., 344 U.S. 33 (1952) in 344 U.S. 33 344 U.S. 41–344 U.S. 42. Original Sources, accessed April 19, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=D1BSIECN588TDNI.

MLA: Douglas. "Douglas, J., Dissenting." United States v. L. A. Tucker Truck Lines, Inc., 344 U.S. 33 (1952), in 344 U.S. 33, pp. 344 U.S. 41–344 U.S. 42. Original Sources. 19 Apr. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=D1BSIECN588TDNI.

Harvard: Douglas, 'Douglas, J., Dissenting' in United States v. L. A. Tucker Truck Lines, Inc., 344 U.S. 33 (1952). cited in 1952, 344 U.S. 33, pp.344 U.S. 41–344 U.S. 42. Original Sources, retrieved 19 April 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=D1BSIECN588TDNI.