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UNITED STATES v. WILLIAMS

November 30, 1981

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Stephen Nathaniel WILLIAMS, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BIUNNO

Williams was found guilty of armed bank robbery, 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d), by verdict of a jury rendered November 3, 1975, after trial. A study was conducted under 18 U.S.C. § 4205(c) and (d) (1976) and a final sentence of 25 years was imposed August 23, 1976. A history of the case is set out in the court's ruling of March 23, 1978 in connection with a Rule 35 motion, Appendix A to this opinion, and need not be repeated here.

Williams is now in federal custody serving his sentence. He has now filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. He attacks the indictment itself and seeks its dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. A statement of facts and brief were filed November 23, 1981.

 Under the statute, as well as Rule 4 for § 2255 motions, the matter is referred to the sentencing judge for initial consideration. He is to examine all the files, records, transcripts and correspondence relating to the judgment under attack and is to order summary dismissal if (under the Rule) it "plainly appears" that the movant is not entitled to relief or (under § 2255) if the papers reviewed "conclusively show" that the prisoner is entitled to no relief. While Rule 4 was enacted by Congress after the statute, the court will apply the stricter statutory standard.

 The claim of lack of jurisdiction is grounded on the assertion that Williams is a member of the New Afrikan Nation, and a citizen of the Republic of New Africa. He claims to be a combatant against federal and state authorities, fighting against colonialism and thus entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention as a prisoner of war and not subject to the jurisdiction of a civilian court.

 He argues that the jurisdiction over him here is derived politically, economically and historically from illegal American occupation and control of the New Republic of Afrika through the slave trade and the institution of slavery. The implication from his argument is that his presence in the United States is the consequence of kidnapping by slave traders, or the result of the use of fraud or force, and thus he cannot be said to be lawfully within the jurisdiction of this court, citing U. S. v. Toscanino, 500 F.2d 267 (CA2, 1974), which he claims ought to be extended to his theory.

 The New Republic of Afrika, by whatever name, is not a sovereign nation recognized as such by the United States. At most, it is a black separatist organization or movement. While persons in the United States are free to form or join a wide variety of organizations, including political organizations whose aim is separation, such groups are no more than organizations unless recognized as nations or otherwise achieve their aims. This has not occurred.

 There is no doubt that the importation of persons as slaves was sanctioned, insofar as the states were concerned, by Art. 1, sec. 9, cl. 1 of the U. S. Constitution. That provision prevented the Congress from exercising its commerce power in that regard until the year 1808, twenty years after the adoption of the Constitution. See, Groves v. Slaughter, 40 U.S. (15 Pet.) 449, at 513-515, 10 L. Ed. 800 (1841); Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, at 411, 15 L. Ed. 691 (1857); Smith v. Turner, (Passenger cases) 48 U. S. (7 How.) 283, at 453, 12 L. Ed. 702 (1849).

 Halting of the importation of slaves, however, did not alter the status of those already so imported or of their progeny. It was the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery as such, whether the person had been imported as a slave or was the offspring born here of imported slaves. And, by the 14th Amendment, all persons born in the United States were made citizens thereof and of the State wherein they reside. United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 18 S. Ct. 456, 42 L. Ed. 890 (1898); Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 36, at 72-73, 21 L. Ed. 394 (1873).

 It is shown by the presentence report that Williams was born on July 23, 1946 in Jersey City, N. J., and raised in Newark and East Orange, N. J. Putting to one side the 5 instances of juvenile delinquency shown, his conduct thereafter showed arrests and convictions as follows:

 This record establishes that Williams was born in and has been domiciled in New Jersey his entire lifetime and so he has at all times been a citizen of the United States and of New Jersey. The files and records of the court conclusively show that he is entitled to no relief on the ground advanced, and the motion will be summarily dismissed.

 APPENDIX A

 MEMORANDUM

 March 23, 1978

 Re: U. S. v. Williams, Cr 75-371

 This is an armed bank robbery case. Defendant was convicted by a jury after trial and sentenced to the maximum permitted by law for the purpose of a study to aid the court in deciding what sentence finally to impose. The study was made, received and reviewed, and final sentence of 25 years was imposed August 23, 1976.

 On appeal, the conviction was affirmed. Petition for certiorari was denied. On May 24, 1977, within time, a motion to correct and reduce sentence was filed. A long delay ensued despite 3 orders setting briefing schedules, none of which was met (order dated June 20, 1977; memorandum order dated January 9, 1978; order dated January 28, 1978), and papers continued to be submitted for defendant thereafter (letters of February 17 and 22, 1978).

 Being in doubt of its jurisdiction to act at all, the court entered a Memorandum Order dated March 6, 1978 reviewing the case and motion history and setting a schedule for briefs on the point.

 Motion to Reduce Sentence

 On the merits of this motion and putting aside the matter of jurisdiction to reduce in the circumstances of this case, the court finds that no showing has been made sufficient to persuade it to modify or reduce the ...


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