Eric L. Muller

Eric L. Muller is the Dan K. Moore Distinguished Professor in Jurisprudence and Ethics at the University of North Carolina School of Law. He is the author of American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II (2007 University of North Carolina Press) and Free to Die for their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II (2001 University of Chicago Press). He graduated from Brown University in 1984, where he was a Phi Beta Kappa member. He received his J.D. from Yale University in 1987.

Updated May 2008

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Enduring Communities

Betrayal on Trial: Japanese American "Treason" in World War II - Part 4 of 4

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II. Law, Loyalty, and the “Permanent Source of Moral Danger”

The treason trial of the Shitara sisters in 1944 is admittedly but one episode in the American legal history of treason. It is dangerous to reach for broad conclusions about treason law from a sample size of one. As it happens, however, the leading theoretical work on law and loyalty identifies the precise dangers of error and oppression that plagued the prosecution of the Shitara sisters. This theoretical work has largely been done by two philosophers—Alisdair MacIntyre and George P. Fletcher.

A. Alisdair MacIntyre: Loyalty as a ...

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Enduring Communities

Betrayal on Trial: Japanese American "Treason" in World War II - Part 3 of 4

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E. Criminal Intent Vanishes on the Road to Trial

It was also the last day that anyone in the government gave more than fleeting thought to what the actual intent of the Shitara sisters might have been. In order to prove the sisters guilty of treason, the government would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that in helping Haider and Loescher escape from Camp Trinidad, they intended to give aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States. In late 1943 and early 1944, the law was clear that a person who helps an enemy of ...

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Betrayal on Trial: Japanese American "Treason" in World War II - Part 2 of 4

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At first, the photographs seemed little more than a curiosity to the state and federal law enforcement officers who were interrogating Haider and Loescher. The police chief of Las Vegas, New Mexico, decided to keep them as souvenirs, and he showed them around to his friends. One of his friends, however, showed them to the editor of the local newspaper, and he, in turn, gave them to the Denver Post. On Sunday, October 24, 1943, the Post ran three of the photographs on the front page under the headline “German Prisoners Spooned with Jap Girls in Trinidad.” The ...

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Enduring Communities

Betrayal on Trial: Japanese American "Treason" in World War II - Part 1 of 4

This Article tells the story of the federal treason trial of three Japanese American sisters for helping their paramours, two German soldiers, to flee from a Colorado prisoner-of-war camp in October of 1943. At the time, the story seemed to confirm the suspicion of national disloyalty that had forced the sisters and tens of thousands of other Japanese Americans from their West Coast homes in the spring of 1942. But a careful review of the record of the case reveals that the women were disloyal only to their husbands, not to their country. The government presented the jury with no ...

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