In the comment section to the post below about a Navy TC requesting and a Navy military judge adjudging confinement in an officer special court-martial case, one commentator linked to this Stars and Stripes article from June 4.  The article is about victims’ piqué over a trial counsel’s e-mail informing them about the results of a trial.  LCDR Anthony Velasquez was a  Navy doctor who had been convicted by a general court-martial of offenses arising from wrongful sexual contact with patients.  The TC’s e-mail to the victims told them that the doc had been sentenced to confinement for 24 months, a fine of $28,000 with a six month enforcement provision, total forfeitures, and a dismissal.  The TC’s e-mail omitted the fact that under a PTA, the doc would spend only 7 days in confinement, with the rest of the confinement and the fine suspended.

50 Responses to “The Navy JAG Corps’ bad month”

  1. Stu Couch says:

    Stand by for some heads to roll on this one. Cap on confinement of 7 days? For a sex offense? It’s astounding that e-mail was used to discharge VWAP duties by anybody involved in this case, or that any victim was unaware of the PTA terms prior to the guilty plea.

    This is yet another example of a failure of leadership, oversight, and most of all training. Safe bet that Congress will get involved on this one.

  2. anonymous says:

    Agree, profoundly. Rumor has it the accused’s chain of command was similarly uninformed regarding the ultimate disposition of the case, this being a regional GCMCA supported by the local RLSO.

  3. Socrates says:

    The article does not take strong issue with the TC’s actions, implying that she was honest in her phone communications with the victims and did not try to hide the ball, but the email was prepared by superiors and sent in a rather perfunctory, “check-the-box” manner. The 7-day sentence is the real killer – the miscommunication just adds to the bad perception.

  4. anonymous says:

    I’ve heard the same, with TC now being unfairly scapegoated by her superiors, despite the fact that principled objections to the proposed disposition were expressed prior to her being cut out of the process. True to her character, though, you still won’t be hearing this from her, short of a Congressional subpoena.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Let’s not make the TC out to be some kind of a hero here, she’s still the one who sent the email regardless of who drafted it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Agreed that TC doesn’t get a pass. The email should have contained the terms of the PTA at a minimum (and not misspellings).

  7. Christopher Mathews says:

    Stu, it’s been a while since I dealt with VWAP issues, but isn’t the government supposed to give notice to the victims of a proposed PTA before trial?

  8. Stu Couch says:

    Chris, DD Form 2702 is given out to victims/witnesses before trial. It lists the following as ways they can participate in the court-martial process:

    – Notified of and be present at all public court proceedings;
    – Consulted on pre-trial confinement of accused and release of accused from pre-trial confinement;
    – Contacted about the proposed dismissal of any and all charges;
    – Consulted on decision not to prosecute;
    – Contacted regarding the proposed terms of any negotiated plea;
    – Consulted on proposed terms of any pre-trial agreement;
    – Notified of the acceptance of a guilty plea; to present to the court evidence on sentencing;
    – Informed about the conviction, sentencing, and imprisonment of the accused.

  9. Rab C. Nesbit says:

    I know Emily Dewey. Very out-of-character for to not speak to the media.

  10. Anonymous says:

    How about some accountability for a change? The RLSO commander should be relieved. First, he lets an officer off the hook. Then, after the injustice is revealed, he takes on a snotty attitude of “hey, we notified them they could be notified of a PTA – they didn’t take advantage of it, so too bad, so sad” and “it’s a wrap-up form.” Screw the victims’ understanding, he seems to be saying, the important thing was our intent in sending the email. I only wish Congress would see what’s going on in the Navy. Who’s in charge these days? Houck? If so, isn’t he more focused on looking good to the fleet in operational ways, but not so much the miljus angle?

  11. Anonymous says:

    The Navy says, “The victims are free to lodge an official complaint if they believe they were misled, Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ron Steiner said. As of Friday afternoon, no one had done so, he said.” What, risk getting charged with false official statement when their complaint is turned into focusing on whether they were truly misled and being forced to confess they weren’t really misled? The comments of the enlisted victims reflect how many, if not most, in the enlisted community feel when it comes to disparate justice in the military. That email is misleading on its face. TC and all those JAGs cc’d knew that the sentence the judge announced and the actual sentence were not the same thing, yet they attempted to let the vitims believe the harsher sentence would be imposed. Shame.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The TC’s email was horribly misleading. It would have sent shivers down my spine to tell victims that the MJ adjudged 2 years confinement without telling them about a 7 day deal. I would really like for my post to not be a personal attack, so I will say simply that I strongly disagree with anon 2209’s last sentence.

  13. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    Anon 750pm:

    I agree completely with your call for “some accountability for a change.” It would certainly be a change. Do not, however, hold your breath.

    A couple examples, brought to my attention at a recent miljus presentation I attended. First, Art. 33, UCMJ. When is the last time you saw a SpCMCA send the mandatory 8-day letter to the GCMCA? As far as I can tell, Art. 33 hasn’t even been cited by CAAF or a CCA since 1982. This is not surprising, since early precedent basically eviscerated Art. 33.

    Example 2: The useless Art. 98, UCMJ. According to Lexis, it has been cited exactly once in the history of the UCMJ, in Timmons, a 1983 case. With history as a guide, I confidently predict that there will never be an Art. 98 prosecution.


  14. seabag says:

    After reading some of the remarks critical of TC All I can say is that were I free to speak on the topic and not bound to respect the wishes of a fine officer and lawyer in this regard there would be some apologies in order not to mention some other officers brought under the microscope who unlike Emily Dewey and Rex Guinn have so far not received their proper public attention not only for their own involvement but for their cowardice in attermptinbg to shift the blame to LT Dewey. I only hope that the investigating officer treats the TC fairly and that the TC is absolutley forthcoming with him rather than as the daughter of two former navy JAGS cling to some notions of placing the good of the navy above her own. Those days are gone as well indicated by the cockroaches running for cover in this one.

  15. Anonymous says:

    “Investigating officer…”? Sounds like confirmation that TC is pending legal/disciplinary action.

  16. Mapu says:

    Has Rex Guinn recieved the proper amount of public attention, other than the type he prefers, which is spinning the issue with reporters to deflect attention from his decisions and “leadership” in this case? Guinn has the final say as the CO. The buck began, and should end, with him.

  17. Mapu says:

    I know, i before e, except after c.

  18. SEABAG says:


  19. Anonymous says:

    If you know who they are, why not name names? Regardless, the final call for the decision-making by the legal beagles rests with Rex Guinn. If anyone’s head is going to roll, it should be his, lest the enlisted community’s concern of unequal justice be extended to junior officers’ concern that senior officers can give other senior officers a great deal in a sex offense case, then treat victims badly, and get away with it.

  20. LCDR X says:

    I don’t have a dog in the fight here, but my two cents for what they may be worth:

    I think we have two separate issues here that are being conflated, and unfairly so. The first issue is whether the PTA was appropriate. The second issue is whether VWAP rules were followed. No question in my mind that we screwed the pooch on VWAP, but would that have ever made the news had it not been for the added “sizzle” lent by the PTA terms? Those who dropped the ball on VWAP should be held accountable, but I don’t think we should treat them any more harshly than we do the CA or SJA who screws up the SJAR or CA’s action. Those screwups have an impact too. My point is that mistakes are made in the process all the time–this one just happened to get a lot of attention. Let’s judge the players by more than one mistake.

    As for the PTA, personally I don’t see the big deal. Dude is going to lose his medical license, have to register as a sex offender, and have a federal conviction on his record. He’s hosed. I know there are lots of theories of punishment, but frankly I think those collateral consequences were fair to consider. I might have liked to see some greater amount of confinement, but I don’t think this was stop-the-presses unreasonable under the circumstances.

    What I do think this story illustrates is that the RLSO concept has some structural problems. The buck ultimately stops with the CA, but we owe it to the CA to ensure he/she gets the right advice at the right time. Are we structurally arranged to do that as well as we could?

  21. SEABAG says:

    LCDR X, God Bless you for bringing a cool head to the table. You make alot of sense and so far are the only calm contribitor including me, to this “Perfect Storm” scenario. Hopefully the RLSO structure will be examined again in the wake of this. As for the VWAP, I would bet it can be traced to a matter of training.

  22. Friend says:

    LCDR X – What you characterize ARE valid points but you assume each of those scenarios will play out to their intended and logical conclusions. Collateral effects are and can be very elusive. CAs should be wary of whether they will actually come to fruition. I take nothing from this officer’s defense team – they done good. Will this or a similar team be able to work their magic in the future when those licensure issue or reporting issue come to bear? I think the only thing one can really accept is that the USN (note I did not say VA) will not give him any of his USN “getting out” benefits (But for example will they send his house hold goods home to CONUS…why yes the USN will!)

    Will he lose his license? I would expect most if not all would chime in and say “I hope so”. Will his record and conviction actually be in a database? Only if the right people do their magic and make it so. Will he “HAVE” to register as a sex offender – only if his home state requires it AND one must look at the charges to see if they require mandatory reporting by the USN…the old SECNAVINST is still active…it enumerates UCMJ articles essentially. Being a trash mouth to a client I don’t think will qualify. Let me see could a clever advocate go to a licensing board and say sure he was convicted…but only got 7 days!!! How serious could his purported misconduct have been??? This blog is rift with defense counsel whom on a bad day could, with a straight face, create scenarios minimizing the severity of this conviction.
    True – those factors you cited should have been in the decision matrix and not the trump card above all the other reasons that cases require trial either due to public policy or good order and discipline. Collateral effects are simply too speculative to give a lot of weight to in my humble opinion.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Well said. With all these collateral consequences being under the control of authorities outside the federal government, I would never have relied on them as a response to criticism over the negotiated disposition of the case, especially where I’m already accused of having misled the public by omitting certain material information.

    Going back at least as far as Billig (Bethesda’s blind cardiothoracic surgeon), we’ve learned state medical boards can take quite a different view of things than we might.

  24. who's your daddy says:

    Clearly the JAG corps needs to be re-organized! But first, we need a commission. We need a commission to study how to re-organize. Then, we need to re-organize. And, we need career tracks. But first, we need a board. We need a board to select those that wish to be on a career track. Then we will be properly organized and filled with experts that are on a career track. That is leaderhip, but if that is insufficient, then we can fire 1 or 2 fall-guys and tell Congress that we hold are people accountable.
    NOte to self: We need to stop doing so many courts-martial, they keep making us look bad in public.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Speak not of what you know not. The TC personally called the victims and told them the terms of the deal well before this e-mail was sent. As CAPT Guinn stated, it was intended as a follow up. And spelling snark? really?

  26. Anonymous says:

    How so? And perhaps you can sign your name while you defame another officer using hers?

  27. Anon says:

    “As for the PTA, personally I don’t see the big deal. Dude is going to lose his medical license, have to register as a sex offender, and have a federal conviction on his record. He’s hosed. I know there are lots of theories of punishment, but frankly I think those collateral consequences were fair to consider. I might have liked to see some greater amount of confinement, but I don’t think this was stop-the-presses unreasonable under the circumstances.”

    That’s absurd. Most of us have had enlisted clients do months or years for much, much less. Let’s just be honest: The CA didn’t want to pay for the GCM, and didn’t want to ask for a plus-up of funds to pay for it.

    If the purpose of the Navy CM system is to do justice, and I’m not sure that it is, we failed in this case. If doing justice is not a fundamental underpinning of our MILJUS system, then we need to adjust fire.

    I agree, however, that a bad deal rests entirely on the CA. The issue for us JAGs is whether procedure was followed AND whether we provided competent advice to the CA.

  28. Emily Dewey says:

    Hello Mr. Nesbit, LT Dewey here. I’m confused. I don’t know anyone by the name of Rab Nesbit, so I’m not sure how you know me, unless of course this is not your real name, and you are a sniveling troll hiding behind an anonymous internet persona. How brave you are. I won’t comment on the facts of this case, other than to say that I would expect educated people to know better than to assume Stars and Stripes has all of the facts. I do however, wish to state that you are a coward. I expect better from a Naval Officer and a man. Grow a pair and sign your name, or disengage from the conversation.

  29. anonymous says:

    Agreed re: structural problems with the RLSO. Let’s dissect what we know is fact here without getting into the sensationalized aspects of that article. Fact: The TC in this case is a junior officer. I believe she is just barely post CSB though I could be mistaken. Fact: The TC called at least one victim and notified them of the terms of the deal, as the article states. It is likely she also called others. I would be curious to know if this was the case, if so, it is consistent with the statement from CAPT Guinn that this was a follow up to previously provided info. Fact: When victims notified TC they were confused, TC responded and provided clarification. Fact: the SJA at that command is also the TC’s XO. Fact: TC’s XO advised the CA. Fact: the victims stated they were happy with TC and that she was eager to push for trial.

    So what we can infer is that a junior officer, thanks to the RLSO concept, was put in a position where, after a year of preparing for trial, she was placed in a position of attempting to advocate for victims against the advice of her own XO. Not a fun position for a junior O3. I’m not going to say she’s a hero, or that mistakes weren’t made, as I don’t know all the facts on what was and wasn’t done per VWAP, but I do think that as long as we have RLSOs, we will always have TCs who are forced to temper their zealousness when it runs afoul of the advice of more senior JAGs in their chain and the desires of the CAs they serve. Scrap it all and bring back the independent SJA!

  30. Rab C. Nesbit says:

    And how do we know that you are the real Emily Dewey? You could be…how did you put it…a sniveling troll hiding behind an anonymous internet persona.

    I wasn’t commenting on the facts of the case. The article said nothing about LT Dewey’s character, but a previous poster did. I was simply disagreeing with that comment.

  31. Not a fan of Navy MILJUS says:

    Rab, at a minimum: You’re wrong, you’re an ass, or both.

    But these comments are a good example of our JAGC problems. First we do crap work, yet our work load is light and our cases are simple. Nonetheless we’re barely competent, at best. Then we spend hours upon hour on character assassination. It’s pathetic how unprofessional our junior MJ attorneys behave – everything is personal, including the client’s position, and people have a misplaced sense of loyalty and CYA. The way we practice military justice is like moot court with real clients.

    But maybe that makes sense, our entire military justice system is an illusion to being with, isn’t it?

  32. Rab C. Nesbit says:


    Wrong about what?

    I’m not the one taking things personally. But way to speak for the entire Navy junior JAG corps.

    Let me guess, you got burned at a Special and it’s all your attorney’s fault because he/she didn’t buy that conspiracy theory of yours? Cossio, is that you? We’ve missed you.

  33. Emil Dewey says:

    Rab, you’re pathetic. your conduct is what I would expect from a highschool bathroom wall, not a website for military professionals. And I think I know who you are, and I’m not surprised.

  34. newsreader says:

    Rab, interesting that when I google search “Emily Dewey” with various other military terms, the only news articles I can find are ones related to this case, in which she was “unavailable for comment but previously directed all media inquiries to the PAO” – which would certainly belie your claim of attention seeker – and what appears to be a fluff local newspaper story about her coming home from Iraq, a thing I know that PAO’s coordinate as a military image tool. And everything quoted in that article seems pretty benign and pro Navy. So where exactly do you get that it’s not in her character to not speak to the media? Seems to me that your opinion is based on personal grudge. It would be nice if you could sign your name so we could explore where your opinion may have come from. Antagonized co-worker? Jealous billet seeker? Jilted would-be Lover? Or just plain old ass? The realms of possibility in the anonymous internet are limitless.

  35. YELLOW says:

    I’m beginning to think that “Not a Fan” may have a point about the maturity level here–And this opinion is based soley on the comments in this post!

    I can’t imagine a real professional engaging in public name calling with anon’s. (Especially about a point that has nothing to do with the substantive issue!)
    I mean “grow a pair”? Cowardly?

  36. newsreader says:

    YELLOW, if I understand your post, the thing you find unprofessional is someone addresing a person who claimed to know her and then anonymously attacked her character and calling them a coward? Not the half-cocked assumptions with no supporting facts? Not the snap judgements passed on other senior officers, again without the facts? Not the anonymous assasination of a junior officer’s reputation? Not the high and mighty attitudes expressed on this board? I also agree with not a fan, that our community is suffering from a dirth of professionalism, but one JO calling out an anonymous attacker is the least of it. If he truly wanted to be ignored as an anonymous commenter, he should not have referenced his personal knowledge of the TC. That takes you from anoymous “wow that sounds jacked up” which I agree should be ignored, to a person using an anonymous forum to advance a personal grudge. THAT is unprofessional. I’m not sure I would have called him out or not if it was me, maybe it is a hotheaded response. But I’ve also never had to experience so-called professionals in my community engaging in online character assasinations against me, so who knows. I may have said worse.

  37. Weirick says:


    If heads need to roll, one of the heads should be the CA. Or it may be that no heads should roll because the CA was fully aware of the cost-benefit-analysis of accepting a guilty plea at this level of confinement. The CA is both a flag officer, and presumably an MD, which should signify a good deal of intelligence and education. Despite all of the legalese included in a PTA, it is very clear that the CA was agreeing to only 7 days of confinement. Even a lay reading would make this abundantly clear. In the end, this is what is causing all of the uproar. If the deal was for 18 months, and all of the VWAP problems still occurred, there would not have been such an outcry.

  38. Stu Couch says:

    I agree with you, for the most part. An 18 month cap on confinement would have gone a long way to tamp down criticism.

    They key distinction between a military prosecutor and a civilian district attorney is that the CA wields discretion over disposition of any case, not the TC. That’s the main reason I used to submit “PTA memos” to the CA, via the SJA, in all of my GCM cases. (Can I get any more acronyms in that sentence?) The PTA memo was marked “attorney work product” and gave an overview of the case, any significant trial issues, a detailed explanation of the accused’s PTA offer, then my recommendation. On one occasion I included a 10-year history of results of trial for all significant GCMs at Camp Lejeune in a case where LWOP was on the table, to give the CA some idea of what the case was worth. I never dealt with a discovery issue related to these memos, so not sure how that would go. It was a good way to memorialize what I advised to whom and when. It’s also a good insurance policy for Congressional inquiries from either disgruntled VWAP players or collateral attack by the family of the accused.

    You are absolutely correct that the CA in this case is the one who will have to answer the mail. (And just because he is an MD doesn’t mean he is any more intellectually equipped to resolve military justice matters than any other CA. I would say more but I can’t, based upon my experience at NMCCA.)

    This case is a “perfect storm” for controversy, given the current visibility of military sex offenses in the public eye and, more acutely, in Congress. Start with the perception (one I share) that officers are treated much more leniently than enlisted accuseds. Add to that a physician and numerous enlisted victims. Then the main ingredient of a nominal period of confinement, topped off with some missteps with the VWAP notices. And — voila — you have a real turd burger on your plate.

  39. just another TC says:

    but Stu,

    you don’t know that WASN’T done here. For all you know the TC gave all this info to the CA and the CA said “thanks, got it. 7 days”. As for VWAP missteps, the article says that TC DID tell the victims about the deal (or at least the one that was quoted). Would be nice if they could have posted the entire e-mail so we’d have some context. Whoever commented below that the fact at least one victim had prior notice is consistent with the RLSO CO statement that this was a follow up to give the adjudged results (as required by VWAP) it correct. But I get the feeling “victims angry about CA’s discretion and confused by process” isn’t as juicy a headline as “Evil navy mislead victims”.

  40. Sean says:

    Hey guys,

    I was forwarded to this site by a concerned Coastie JAG. Hoping not to invoking any of the normal belittling comments I normally hear about a sister sea-service, you guys need to cease and desist. The s***-talking, especially in a public forum as this, is frankly below the uniforms that we all wear. I know (or can guess on) many of the people who posted comments here, and am really surprised and disappointed in some of you. If you have honest disagreements about the outcome of this case, then I would recommend emails. Victims and or families of victims can find this chat string by only a few google searches.

    Think before you post and uphold the honor of the uniform.

  41. Slow Burn says:

    With all of the discussion above, one thing escaped the real notice that it was due. This TC was ready to take this case to trial. Witnesses , including victims in substantial number were prepared to testify and kept advised as to trial dates, status of defense continuance motions if any as well as plea negotiations that would have impacted on their need to testify. In that context all were kept advised of the status of the proceedings and even when testimony turned out to be needed on sentencing only, some victims gave testimony. Obviously the TC as in fairly constant communication with the victims .Most importantly, she was prepared to take their fight to the courtroom and prepared them to exercise their the point where the system is most frightening for victims.She had these women prepared to fight back. For those of you who have never tried a sexual assault case from either side , you will never know how much this TC accomplished to keep this case together especially with som many witnesses who need and received her moral support. Were it not for her efforts the defendant might have taken his chances against a weaker case and maybe beat it. That would have been a true miscarriage of justice. Without regard to who did what in any other context, Looking at this case as one well acquainted with litigation. This TC did a terrific job of getting a tough case trial ready. She is in the lawyers sense of the word a warrior and the JAG Corps if anything needs more lawyers who are not afraid to go to court and get it on.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Have heard that Navy JAG was called before SASC last week to explain this case. Anyone know the details?

  43. anonymous says:

    and nobody has heard because of the very discrete nature of Washington? ………….what do you think?

  44. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, you must be right. We’ll see.

  45. anonymous says:

    Thank You Sean, somebody has finally spoken as a lawyer should and let me take it one step further
    . Counselors, look at the Stars and Stripes Article that gave rise to this collection of posts. It is incomplete, devoid of backgtound, takes things out of context, is edited for maximum shock value and yet it has not been critciezed by any of you. If this was offered asany sort of evidence even the least able of you would have torn it apart and yet you rely upon it to malign a colleague and her CO and make very harsh judgments of them often it seems on the basis of personal
    feelings as certainly the article has insufficient bases to off er meaningful professional observations. Are all of you so junior and so inexperienced as to not see the trap you fell into? When you read this crap, think like lawyers
    before you respond and do not,for heaven’s sake seize it as an opportunity to throw mud even if you leave your name. Some things are just beneath our profession.Live up to what is noble about it

  46. anonymous says:

    Since when do professionals trained in the law give credence to rumor? If you want to gossip, especially where the gossip is designed to harm others from ambush find a blog for the yentas.

  47. anonymous says:

    Objection , hearsay

  48. anon says:

    So it does not matter who drafted the email becase she sent it? If someone senior to her drafted it and directs her to send it do you really expect her to refuse? Would you?

  49. Slow Burn says:

    Let us not be like the Red Queen Sentencefirst ,trial later. There is more here
    than meets the eye factually. As far as the TC goes, she thought there would be no deeal and was trial ready. At the 11th hour the negotiating posture changed, TC continued to advocate for the victims a long period of confinement(and in fact argued to the judge that no leniency be shown)She was taken out of the loop at that point and the deal was done over her protest on behalf of the victims with whom she had been in frequent contact. Four even testified at sentencing so the victims were represented there in a meaningful way.Post trial there was likely some confusion over who would do what as the case had been taken from the TC for matters pertaining to the deal but returned to her for trial. Yet I would be reluctant to be too critical of any of those on the side of the prosecution. I am sure there were gaps in training and leadership and I would be will
    ing to bet that other RLSO teams are not fully compliant with VWAP. I say this with some confidence because JAG did not have an instruction on the street implementing VWAP until 14 June 2010. That is right, it came after this trial. Therefore, there was no JAG guidance until 5800.4
    There was only the OPNAV and SECNAV instructions to go by which are not truly as clear as they could be or perhaps some local instructions
    that would vary office to office. Until everyone under the JAG arereading off the same page and receiving the same training, submitting the same reports in the same way collecting data in the same way and divide individual responsibilities in the same fashion throughout it is difficult to say that someone has violated the directive. Here there were no deliberate efforts to deprive any victim of their rights and any mistakes should be seenas honest and in a good faith efort to honor VWAP in spirit, Now as for the CA signuing off on this deal that is worthy of some significant scrutiny as he had to have known it would vring down a firestorm and it did

  50. I cannot stand it says:

    Just a little follow up on the collsteral effects. the Washington proceedngs were dismissed per the docket sheet on line and from press reports it appears to be because he was going to register in Kentucky wgere he was going to live. A review of the Kentucky website reveals he has done that. A review of the spplcable Calfornia sitee reveals first that the court martial was adverse administrratve action. However on November 2 the California Attorney general filed a petiton correctly setting forth what had transpired and in detail seeking the revocation of this guys license. As he cannot deny the allegatons and will likely not appear to defend it should be a slam dunk