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Mr. KEATING. Is the gentleman aware of the fact that since we told them last May, almost a year ago, that we did not believe that they were the ones to do it, that they have taken no further steps to get proper appropriations for the civilian agencies to undertake the work?
Mr. HAND. Well, the gentleman is aware of the situation with regard to appropriations generally. I would say it has been very difficult in the last year or so for the Coast Guard to get appropriations to carry out their present functions.
Mr. KEATING. Is the gentleman aware of the fact that they have made no further effort since we told them of the decision of the Judiciary Committee?
Mr. HAND. No. I have nothing to do with the appropriations and I do not know what their efforts have been.
Mr. KEATING. That is all.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM C. ASH-Resumed
Mr. GRAHAM. I have one question. Your organization is opposed to Communists. From the statement you made I got the impression that the Coast Guard has not been very active in this respect.
Mr. Ash. Yes, you did, to this degree: That the Coast Guard could have done something about it prior to the issuance of a license. They were in a very fine position to do something at that time.
Mr. GRAIAM. You feel that they should have moved in the first instance?
Mr. Ash. Yes; definitely so.
The statement has been made that the Coast Guard does not seek this thing. I would like to refer to a statement of Congressman Bradley on page 34 of the hearings on H. R. 3494.
Mr. GRAHAM. You are referring to the late Fred Bradley?
Where he brought out on this particular bill that the Coast Guard most definitely was seeking to build up a permanent organization by statute control or statute regulation that would really perpetuate themselves.
Now, in their functions, as Coast Guard, they have done a wonderful job on lifesaving, protecting our coasts, iceberg control, weather observation, and so forth. They should not only be commended for it but they should stick to it.
Prior to the war I think the Coast Guard consisted of 12,000 men. They had one ranking flag officer and a few captains and officers. They have been continually seeking to establish a very large force of flag officers, commissioned officers, in all ranks, and the necessary enlisted personnel that goes with it.
I have heard testimony given that some 43 officers are involved in the establishment of all of the hearing units. If that was the only cost to the taxpayer, that would be a very small consideration. But, for all the units there is a stenographic staff, court stenographers, transcripts, and so forth.
It is entirely understandable that in appeal the Coast Guard will not overrule their own officers, will not let them down. An appeal is practically meaningless. It must be meaningless if in over 3,000 cases only 4 of them got outside of the Coast Guard to the court.
Thank you, gentlemen.
STATEMENT OF LOUIS R. HAROLDS, GENERAL COUNSEL,
MARITIME UNION OF AMERICA
Mr. HAROLDS. My name is Louis R. Harolds, 291 Broadway, New York City.
Mr. GRAHAM. What is your capacity ?
Mr. HAROLDS. I am a member of the firm of William L. Standard, general counsel for the National Maritime Union of America.
My prior experience with the hearings conducted under R. S. 4450 dates back to about 1938 when the hearings were still being conducted by the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation.
I still recall with some amusement that in one of my first cases the inspector who was acting as a hearing officer interrupted the proceedings at one point when I objected to certain evidence, while I was representing a seaman, stating that the ground of my objection was that the evidence constituted hearsay because this particular officer was testifying as to something somebody else had told him not in the presence of the accused, and that was the basis for the charge—during an interval which occurred during the hearing the inspector called me aside and said, "Tell me what is this hearsay rule that you are urging upon me.
I explained to him what it was. He then said, “Well, I will sustain your objection, not because it is hearsay, but because you have no opportunity to cross-examine the person who made the original statement," which, of course, was sustaining the reason for the rule but not sustaining the rule.
I might add that that same person still sits as a hearing officer in New York City, but at this time he is a member of the Coast Guard.
On behalf of the National Maritime Union, it is respect fully requested that Congress shall take no action which will enable the Coast Guard oflicers to conduct hearings pursuant to R. S. 4450, as amended.
We are opposed to this particular bill, S. 1077, because our experience has shown us that the Coast Guard in its prior conduct of these proceedings has not administered the act fairly, impartially, or competently, more particularly in the following respects:
1. The Coast Guard officers who handle these cases do not possess legal training necessary to pass on rules of evidence.
2. The Coast Guard has injected itself into labor disputes when its officers are not qualified to hear and determine the merits of such controversies.
In this regard I would like to deviate for a moment. It will be recalled that originally this statute was enacted following the Morro Castle disaster. Its purpose was at that time to investigate the causes for marine casualties and accidents. As a matter of fact, Secretary of Commerce Roper at that time in setting up the various marine investigation boards, himself said: “I hereby promulgate the following rules and regulations for the investigation of marine casualties and
accidents or acts of incompetency or misconduct in connection therewith.”
The broad language of this particular statute enabled the inspectors who were hearing the case to claim that they had the power to inject themselves into a matter whether it was a labor dispute or whether it involved a disaster, or did not, and on appeal that authority was generally and invariably upheld.
Mr. KEATING. The appeal was to the Coast Guard ?
Mr. Harolds. Yes, sir. At that time it was not the Coast Guard; it was to the Secretary of Commerce. But since then it has also been to the Coast Guard.
I have handled several appeals in which I urged that very point without success.
Another grievance which seamen have is that in disputes between licensed and unlicensed men serving on these merchant ships the military background of the Coast Guard officers causes them invariably to side with the licensed merchant marine officers as against the unlicensed seamen. This has been my experience in case after case. When I find it is a question of either taking the word of several unlicensed men against the word of even one licensed man, almost in every single instance, and I have handled at least 100 of these cases, the word of the licensed man has been taken against the word of the unlicensed
It has to be something very persuasive before the hearing officer would disregard the word of the licensed man.
You have to practically come in with documentary evidence and passengers and what not. The word of the unlicensed man himself has never been deemed sufficient. They always tell you they act impartially.
Mr. GRAHAM. What reason could they have for taking the word of the licensed man against the unlicensed man?
Mr. HAROLDS. That is a very good question. To begin with, I did mention the military background of the Coast Guard officers. Before many of these people were Coast Guard officers, they were under the old Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation. Before that they had been masters of vessels or chief engineers. The very system which has led to so much criticism of the military court martial is the same system which has been perpetuated in these particular hearings. Their own background is such that they tend to take the word of someone of their own class, their own background, their own experience.
I had one case in which I was representing a Spanish seaman, who was accused of assaulting some other member of the crew. recess during the hearing, the hearing officer called me aside and said, "You know, I know these Latins; I have sailed with them for many years, and they are very excitable.”
There he was right in the middle of the hearings expressing his views that this man had instigated the entire incident. These are not isolated cases, but these are things which have happened time after time.
Have I answered your question? If not, I would like to make it clearer.
Mr. GRAHAM. You feel that the Coast Guard, being more or less of a military organization, has built up a spirit that operates against a fair and honest trial of any man who is not a member of that group?
Mr. HAROLDS. No. I say that where it is a question of taking the word of a licensed man against an unlicensed man or group of un
licensed men, the Coast Guard will invariably, because of that spirit you mentioned and because of that background, adopt the word of the licensed man over that of the unlicensed man.
I do not say that they do it deliberately.
Another grievance which seamen have, and a very serious one, is this business of revoking their seamen's papers solely on the basis of log entries which are not corroborated. Frequently someone will report to an officer that Seaman X has committed some offense. Sometimes the offense is a very serious one. This officer, in turn, will take that story to the captain. By then it is third story. The captain will make an entry in the log book which will not convey the right story. Sometimes the seaman is called up before the captain and asked to make a statement against the log entry which has been made, and sometimes he is not. Irrespective of whether he is called up before the master at the end of the voyage, the Coast Guard officer who boards the ship looks through the log book and says, “Oh, I see here a log book entry which says that Seaman X has taken a stowaway aboard ship or has been absent without leave.”
So, he calls this seaman up before him and he may accuse him of this act, and the seaman generally will deny, his guilt. So there will be charges preferred.
At the hearing the Coast Guard will frequently offer only the log book as evidence of the offense, and nothing else; no witnesses. Now, obviously, you cannot cross-examine a log book. You can not find out by looking at the log book whether the person who made the entry does or does not have knowledge of what he speaks on. You cannot tell by looking at the log book whether the person who made the entry happens to be prejudiced against the man. Sometimes we will find that a man who happens to be a union representative on the ship, and perhaps is active in bringing forth some crew's complaint about food or some other aspect, or overtime
Mr. GRAHAM. I would like to interrupt. Then, your contention is that that is not the best available evidence but secondary evidence?
Mr. Harolds. That is right. It might be proper if you had the people before the court to question them about what knowledge they had. It is not proper to just put a log book in evidence and then rest. You cannot cross-examine a log book.
I had a case in which we wanted to test just how far the Coast Guard would go on one of these things. I would like to tell you gentlemen something about that case. Now, usually when the Coast Guard would produce the log book and rest we would put the seaman on the stand anyway and have him testify. We do not want to take a chance. After all, the man's papers might be revoked, and the man wanted to be heard regardless of whether it was in his interest or not. We would put him on the stand and tell him to tell his story. After he had testified, all too frequently the hearing officer would say to me, "I do not believe him and I find him guilty.” That would not provide a good test case, because on that basis the decision could always be that it was not only the log entry but the testimony of the man himself. This chap, who was a youngster, by the name of Greenwood, was a member of a passenger ship. With this man's consent we decided to rest after the production of the log book. We noted for the record that not only was the accused present, but that also a witness of his was present.
I would like to read to you the serious charges which were filed against him and on which he was found guilty solely on the basis of the log book.
First, in that you, while serving as wiper on board the merchant vessel of the United States, under authority of your duly issued certificate, did on or about the 30th of October 1945, while said vessel was in a foreign port, pilfer and illegally dispose of Government property; to wit, approximately 5 gallons of kerosene.
Second, in that you, while serving as above, did on or about the 30th of October 194.), assist one Warren Reddick to come aboard the vessel' without permission or authority, the vessel then being in a foreign port.
Third, in that you, while serving as above, did on or about November 1, 1945, while said vessel was in a foreign port, go ashore without authority after shore leave had been stopped.
Fourth, in that you, while serving as above, did on or about January 28, 1946, wbile said vessel was in a foreign port, absent yourself without leave and therefore failed to perform your proper duties.
Fifth, in that you, while serving as above, did on or about March 25, 1946, while said vessel was in a foreign port, absent yourself without leave from the vessel and your duties for a period of about 5 days.
Sixth, in that you, while serving as a wiper on board a merchant vessel of the United States, under authority of your duly issued certificate, did on or about March 30, 1946, while said vessel was in foreign port, damage or destroy Govern. ment property, a fitting of the ship, to wit, one lock.
Seventh, in that you, while serving as above, did on or about March 30, 1946, while said vessel was in a foreign port, fail to obey lawful order of the master, in that you did violate the master's arrest.
Eighth, in that you, while serving as above, did on or about March 30, 1946. while said vessel was in a foreign port, desert said vessel.
These charges are all charges of a very serious nature, and yet solely on the basis of a logbook entry this man was found guilty of each and every one of these specifications, some of which charged criminality.
Mr. GRAHAM. Had they not been entered in the logbook there would have been nothing with which to confront this man; is that correct?
Mr. HAROLDS. The witnesses themselves should have been produced.
Mr. GRAHAM. If they were available. If they were not available then there was nothing left but the logbook.
Mr. HAROLDS. Does that excuse finding a man guilty
Mr. GRAHAM. I am not arguing the merits. This is the only available evidence in the absence of witnesses!
Mr. HAROLDS. But there is nothing here to show that the entrant had any particular knowledge of these various charges.
Mr. KEATING. Do you have personal knowledge, in this particular case, whether those charges were provable by oral testimony of witnesses?
Mr. Harolds. I do not know whether the witnesses were present or not. I assume they were not present, of course, because none of them were produced.
Mr. GRAHAM. Go ahead.
Mr. HAROLDS. We did take an appeal on the limited ground, namely, a logbook, uncorroborated, is not sufficient to deprive a man of his livelihood. The Coast Guard, on appeal, affirmed the decision of its hearing officer and held that it was sufficient.
Mr. KEATING. You did not take it to the court?