The defendant Troy Bland Cade, is the leader or minister of a religious sect known as Islam in the City of Monroe, Louisiana. The sect is composed of negroes, who style themselves Muslims. He was indicted for criminal anarchy, a violation of LSA-R.S.
LSA-R.S. 14:115, upon which this prosecution is based, provides:
"Criminal anarchy is:
The Bill of Indictment charges the defendant in the following language:
In this Court, the defendant has filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the state courts. He contends that the state courts are without jurisdiction in cases involving subversive activities since the federal government has preempted this field by the enactment of the Smith Act.
In Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Nelson, supra, the United States Supreme Court resolved that federal legislation had preempted the field of subversive activity, thus rendering state legislation on the subject matter inoperative. Following that decision, this Court held in State v. Jenkins, supra, that any claim of reserved state power in prosecutions for communist activity had been foreclosed by the Nelson decision. However, this Court further stated that "If a case of sedition is ever presented under our law which does not necessarily involve seditious acts against the Federal government, it will be time enough to decide whether the ruling in Commonwealth v. Nelson precludes such a prosecution."
The Supreme Court of the United States has now clarified its holding in the Nelson case by the following pronouncement in Uphaus v. Wyman, 360 U.S. 72, 79 S.Ct. 1040, 3 L.Ed.2d 1090:
The plain import of this judicial pronouncement is that state statutes proscribing criminal anarchy have been superseded by federal legislation only insofar as they specifically punish sedition against the United States Government. The sovereign states have not been stripped of their means of self-defense.
The instant prosecution is clearly one in which the state seeks to protect its own governmental integrity. Hence, the plea to the jurisdiction is without merit.
Pretermitting earlier Bills of Exception, we must pass to a consideration of Bill of Exception No. 13, for it has given us grave concern. This Bill was reserved to the overruling by the trial court of defendant's motion for a new trial. Among other things, the motion for a new trial alleged that no evidence had been adduced to establish that the defendant taught or advocated opposition to the established government by violence or other unlawful means, or that the defendant belonged to an organization which he knew advocated such a doctrine. The transcript of evidence was made a part of and attached to the Bill of Exception. Hence, the Bill raises a question of law of which this Court has cognizance.
The purpose of the statute proscribing criminal anarchy is to prohibit the advocacy or teaching of any doctrine that contemplates violence, crime or other unlawful means of effecting governmental change. It is true that the defendant has attacked
An examination of the statute and the indictment discloses that an essential element of the crime charged is the defendant's advocacy of violence or other unlawful means in opposition to or destruction of the established government, or the defendant's belonging to an organization which he knows advocates such a doctrine. It is not a crime to advocate governmental change through orderly, democratic processes, which our form of government provides. Neither is it a crime to persuade or exhort others in an effort to enlist public support for such a change. In the battle of ideas is found the genius of our form of government. The litmus test of the crime
In the instant case, the evidence adduced by the prosecution to establish the doctrinal teachings of the defendant and his organization consists of the testimony of James Calvin Gaines, a 13 year-old member of the cult, a recording of the testimony of the defendant given before the Grand Jury, and a blackboard on which is inscribed the flags and symbols used by the sect for instruction.
The blackboard was admitted in evidence over defense objection.
Insofar as the record shows, Islam is a religion. It has been practiced in the United States for 32 years. Temples, or mosques, have been established in a number of cities. The sect worships one god, called Allah, and believes that Elijah Muhammad, leader of the sect, is his messenger. The faith and practice of the sect embrace an afterlife, prayer, charity, and fasting. Physical fitness is encouraged.
The sect is opposed to integration of the races. In fact, it advocates a complete racial separation. To accomplish this purpose, it seeks land from the United States government for the settlement of negroes. No evidence was presented, however, that it seeks to accomplish this purpose by force, violence, or other unlawful means.
The blackboard, to which reference has been made, was displayed in the Muslim Temple. As one faces the board, a flag of the United States appears on the left side. Underneath the flag is the inscription, "Christianity", and a cross. Immediately under the cross are the words, "Slavery Hell Death". To the right of these words is a tree from which a black person is suspended by a rope over a fire. On the right of the board is depicted the flag of Islam. Under it is the inscription, "Freedom Justice Equality". In the center of the board is the question: "Which one will survive the war of Armagedon?"
The state called James Calvin Gaines, a 13 year-old member of the sect, to explain the blackboard and sectarian doctrines. This witness had been a member for two years. He testified that the defendant, Cade, had explained the blackboard to him.
As explained by him, the inscription, "Slavery Hell Death," referred not to the future but to the past. It was a sectarian interpretation of the racial history of the negro under Christianity, particularly during the slave era. The war (or battle) of Armagedon referred to the final conflict between the forces of good and evil. The question posed concerning Armagedon meant "Which religion will survive." We note that an account of this final conflict is also recorded in the sacred tomes of the Christian religion.
Gaines had never heard the flag of Islam, which he described as a religious flag, compared to the flag of the United States. The state propounded to him the question of whether he had rather live under the flag of the United States or that of Islam. This question was objected to as irrelevant and inadmissible since it required the child to make a choice between the flag of his
"Q. Go ahead James.
"A. I would rather live under the flag of Islam.
"A. No, sir, that is my opinion."
The state's witness, Gaines, further testified:
"A. No, sir.
"Q. Or take any of the land belonging to the State of Louisiana?
"A. No, sir.
"A. No, sir.
"A. No, sir.
"A. No, sir.
"A. No, sir.
* * * * * *
"A. Islam in the dictionary, it means peace.
"Q. It means peace?
"Q. In that religious faith?
"A. Yes, sir.
* * * * * *
"A. No, sir.
* * * * * *
"A. I think that this flag represents a religion.
"Q. Religion. What religion does it represent?
"A. It represents the religion of Islam.
"A. Yes, sir.
"A. No, sir."
The recording of the testimony of the defendant before the Grand Jury, introduced by the state, contains no admission of the advocacy of force, violence, or any unlawful means of accomplishing the purposes of the society. The defendant's disavowal of unlawful methods is clear and positive: "We have no intention in no way whatsoever of going against any of the laws of the United States of America."
The defense produced Jeremiah Pugh, another minister of the sect, as a witness to the doctrinal teachings. His testimony corroborates the testimony offered by the state that no force or violence has been advocated by the sect. He testified as follows:
* * * * * *
Inasmuch as the state called James Calvin Gaines as a witness, it vouched for his credibility. The state did not attempt to impeach him. Neither was any contradictory testimony adduced.
The state has made no specific contention that the aggressive conduct of the Muslims against the police officers who entered the Temple constitutes evidence of the defendant's guilt of the offense of criminal anarchy. However, we have carefully considered this evidence. The activity was directed against the individual police officers, ostensibly because their entry into the Temple violated segregation of the races, a tenet in which the sect strongly believes. In our opinion, it is in no sense probative of the advocacy of violence or other unlawful means to accomplish governmental change. Such an extension of this evidence would bring within the scope of the criminal anarchy-felony statute every tavern brawler who scuffles with the police, a consequence that cannot be seriously supported.
We have searched the record in vain for any evidence that the defendant advocated opposition to or destruction of the established government by force, violence, or other unlawful means. Neither have we found any evidence in the record that the organization, of which the defendant is a member, has espoused such a doctrine.
The state asserts, however, that the teachings of this sect foster racial hatred. That the doctrinal content may arouse racial prejudice cannot be gainsaid. However, teachings of this nature are not denounced as a crime by the instant statute. The danger sought to be averted is the overthrow of organized government by violence or other unlawful means.
The free exercise of religion, whether it be in the Judeo-Christian tradition or not, has been wisely accorded constitutional protection under our system of government.
Having found no evidence in the record to establish that violence or other unlawful means have been advocated by the defendant or his organization, we conclude that an error of law has been committed. We find it unnecessary to consider the remaining Bills of Exception. Clearly, this error is prejudicial to the substantial rights of the defendant. Hence, the conviction and sentence must fall.
We do not hold, however, that the defendant, Troy Bland Cade, or the Muslim organization has not in fact advocated subversion of the government by violence or other unlawful means. We hold only that the record before us, by which we are bound, contains no evidence to establish this indispensable foundation of guilt.
The defendant filed in the trial court a motion for a directed verdict. The court very properly rejected it on the ground that such a motion is authorized only in misdemeanor cases triable by the court alone.
For the reasons assigned, the conviction and sentence are reversed and set aside, and the case is remanded for a new trial.
HAMLIN, J., concurs in part and dissents in part.
HAMLIN, Justice (concurring in part and dissenting in part).
I concur in the majority view that the plea to the jurisdiction of the State Court is without merit, and that the statute is constitutional. I also concur in the majority view that the blackboard was properly admitted in evidence, a photograph of said blackboard being attached hereto for reference.
The witness James Calvin Gaines was called by the State for three primary reasons:
Gaines was asked the following question:
There was an objection by counsel for the defense, which was overruled, and Bill of Exceptions No. 8 was reserved. The testimony of Gaines then continues:
"Q. Go ahead James.
"A. I would rather live under the flag Islam."
In my opinion, it was clear to the jury that that answer was based on what Troy Bland Cade taught Gaines of the meanings of the board in connection with his teachings concerning the flag of Islam.
I have also considered the following testimony given by Jeremiah Pugh, a witness for defendant:
The jury considered the blackboard that was admitted in evidence; it also considered the testimony of all of the witnesses; it saw and heard the witnesses and noted their demeanor on the stand. The members of the jury were the exclusive judges of the facts; they had the right to find from the witnesses what facts were proved and what facts were not proved. For that purpose they had the right to determine the credibility of the witnesses as they were impressed with their veracity. The jury had the right to take into account the manner of the witnesses on the stand, the probability or improbability of their statements, their interest or lack of interest that they may have in the case and every circumstance surrounding the giving of their testimony which might aid the jury in weighing the statements of the witnesses.
The jury had the right to accept as true or reject as false the testimony of any witness, as the members thereof were impressed with his or her veracity.
If, after hearing all of the evidence and in weighing the same, the jury considered the guilt of the accused proved beyond a reasonable doubt, it had the right and duty to return a verdict of "guilty." It came to the conclusion that the defendant was guilty.
It is my view that there was ample evidence adduced herein, upon which the jury predicated its verdict. The members of the jury considered the blackboard in connection with the testimony of all of the witnesses, rejecting the inconsistencies therein as they saw fit, and came to the conclusion that the blackboard and all of the evidence, particularly that hereinabove quoted, proved the guilt of the defendant.
I respectfully dissent.
SUMMERS, Justice (dissenting).
This court is limited in the scope of its review in criminal matters by Article VII, Section 10 of the LSA-Constitution of this State "to questions of law only." Furthermore, in matters of this nature, we should not be unmindful of the fundamental right accorded to the jury under our law to determine the question of guilt or innocence. This right is assured by Article XIX, Section 9, of our Constitution in these words:
Although it is recognized in our jurisprudence
The essential element of the crime charged, concerning which the majority has held there is no evidence, is that element of the crime of criminal anarchy which requires that the organization in question, or the person who is a member thereof, advocate "opposition * * * (to) the government * * * by * * * unlawful means. * * *" LSA-R.S. 14:115.
Troy Bland Cade admits to a record of law violations, including vagrancy and possession of narcotics (marijuana).
The Muslim cult, also known as Islam, of which he is the "Minister" in Monroe is a militant Negro group organized on a national basis holding meetings where its members expound the supremacy of the Negro race. White people are referred to in their doctrine as "devils". They are strong believers in the separation of the races and consider the integration of the races to be contrary to the laws of nature and the laws of their God. They are strongly antichristian and feel that Christianity and the government of the United States have been in part responsible for the slavery, hardships and suffering they have endured. The Muslim leaders advocate a program whereby they expect the Federal Government to "turn over" to them enough land within the United States to accomodate the 20,000,000 Negroes of this country in order that they might live separate and apart from the whites as a "nation within a nation." This territory, it is preached, is due the Negroes because they have lived in this country as slaves for 310 years "without a pay day" and that should be payment enough for the lands they feel they are entitled to.
The board introduced in evidence, a copy of which is attached to the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice HAMLIN, is found in all the meeting places—"Temples"—of the Muslim group throughout the United States. It is kept on prominent display and is symbolic of their teachings. This board formed the primary evidence upon which the State seeks to sustain the instant prosecution.
If the symbolism of the board is subject to the interpretation that what is taught thereby is "opposition" to the government by "unlawful means", then that board constitutes "some" evidence and this court cannot adjudge the sufficiency thereof. It is my opinion that it is subject to the interpretation that opposition to the government by unlawful means is a tenet of the Muslim group. Otherwise, why is the question asked: Will the United States (represented by the United States flag) or Islam (represented by the other flag) survive the final conflict between these two ideals—the War of Armageddon (an unlawful means)? There seems to be no doubt that the designers of the board sought to instill into those who viewed the board a desire for "Islam" to survive; for beneath that flag are listed "Freedom Justice Equality", whereas beneath the United States flag are listed "Slavery Hell Death, etc." The inference to be gained is that the government represented by the United States flag should not survive, that is, it should be destroyed and a final conflict (War of Armageddon) will be the means of accomplishing that end.
The only question is, Do these facts, thus briefly recited, and the board constitute "some" evidence, "no matter how little", of the essential elements in question of the crime charged?
There is some evidence to sustain the essential elements of guilt in this case. It may very well be that this court would not consider that evidence sufficient to support
I respectfully dissent.