The Greeley Gazette reports here that former Navy JAG Corps Captain Vincent Averna

sent a letter to Major General Carla Hawley-Bowland, who has authority over Lakin’s superiors. In the letter regarding [the trial counsel, LTC] Brodsky he stated, “His threat to have LTC Lakin tasered to insure his silence is also a blatant violation of the American principle of innocent until proven guilty. This prosecutor is not following normal procedures in LTC Lakin’s court martial. He is violating LTC’s Constitutional Rights by prohibiting his freedom of speech, equal protection under the law and Constitutional Procedural Due Process by failure to follow the UCMJ procedures.” He warned that a failure to investigate the veracity of the claims would be “tantamount to Command Influence, since it can legitimately be said your inaction gives consent to this prosecutor’s misconduct.”

33 Responses to “Former Navy JAG Corps captain writes to LTC Lakin’s commanding general concerning alleged threat by TC”

  1. Christopher Mathews says:

    Leaving aside the logical fallacies and grammatical errors, I hope the denizens of this blog noticed the article’s reference to “COMA” rather than CAAF.

  2. soonergrunt says:

    Leaving aside the logical fallacies and grammatical errors, I hope the denizens of this blog noticed the article’s reference to “COMA” rather than CAAF.

    So you think this is BS, then?

  3. Dwight Sullivan says:

    I don’t know LTC Brodsky and I don’t accept as fact that he said something to the effect of “Taser him and throw him in the back of the van.” But I also don’t have sufficient facts to conclude he didn’t. LTC Lakin has made a specific allegation that LTC Brodksky said it and I haven’t seen any refutation or denial. (That doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist; nor would it mean the allegation is true merely because it hadn’t been refuted or denied. But it is an open question.)

    IF the comment was made, I’m sure it was made as a joke. As former CAAF Chief Judge Cox once wrote, “I know that young judge advocate officers love witty exchanges, practical jokes, and a sense of the macabre in their humor.” United States v. Smith, 27 M.J. 242, 252 (C.M.A. 1988) (Cox, J., concurring). IF LTC Brodsky did make the comment (and if he did, I’m sure that his superiors are aware of it), what’s the right response from the Government?

  4. Christopher Mathews says:

    No, I’m just wondering how long Captain Averna has been out of circulation; CAAF has been known by its current name since 1994.

    It’s possible that the captain was retired when the name changed, of course, but it was kind of a big deal and I’m surprised he missed it.

  5. soonergrunt says:

    I know my cluelessness can be tiring, but who would address this? Would this be something the Convening Authority addresses or would the military judge address this? If it needs addressing, that is.

  6. Anon says:

    Am I wrong that while LTC Lakin may have the right to speak to the press, he does not have the right to do so during duty hours while in his uniform. The court-martial was his place of duty, and when it went into recess, his place of duty was back at his office. If he wants to go on TV during his free time and do interviews, have at it. While the TC’s comments, joking or otherwise, might not have been the smartest, it seems within the command’s power to order LTC Lakin back to his office following the court-martial.

    Thoughts?

  7. Christopher Mathews says:

    I sympathize with a prosecutor’s gallows humor, but if that’s what he said, someone really ought to sit him down and explain the twin concepts of discretion and public decorum. Use visual aids, if necessary. Electroshock therapy is optional. This time.

  8. Christopher Mathews says:

    The convening authority would probably leave it to the servicing SJA and the military judge would likely ignore it unless it occured in her presence or was brought to her attention by motion, but the TC has a boss, and that boss has a boss, and so on. The list of people who can dress down trial counsel is long and distinguished.

  9. Rob says:

    I interacted with LTC Brodsky when he was Chief of Justice at Fort Hood and I was a defense counsel. He’s a good, fair, and principled prosecutor. That being said, he can occasionally be a little bit of hothead, especially when pushed by the defense. Sadly, I can see him saying what was alleged. While I have no doubt it was in jest (intending to get his point across to the escorts), I can see how it might have been misconstrued and inappropriate in a semi-public forum.

  10. Birth, Wind, and Fire says:

    Don’t tase me, Bro……dsky.

  11. Anon says:

    CAPT Vince Averna retired about 30 years ago….The Navy once enjoyed a plethora of “characters” in the JAG Corps who joined and were promoted when promotion board selection rates through O-6 were 100%. Yes, there were days like that. And yes, there were characters like Vince.

  12. Anonymous says:

    But, if the President’s purported ineligibility releases LTC Lakin from his even his most fundamental obligations, why shouldn’t LTC Brodsky enjoy the same liberty? And, what authority would MG Hawley-Bowland (or any other senior officer) have to take action against LTC Brodsky’s alleged indiscretions?

  13. John O'Connor says:

    I tend to agree that the Judge Cox observation likely applies here.

    The appropriate response from the Government is to do nothing publicly. Somebody should have a “hey dummy” conversation with the TC, and if the issue gets raised in the court-martial, the TC should state on the record what he said and apologize for the “poor attempt at humor,” even if he isn’t really sorry.

    It would be ironic if a cast of characters who are so lacking in respect and decorum try to make an issue out of this. I can hear it now: “The prosecutor’s flippant comments are turning this case into a circus . . . .”

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m going to wait for the long-form version of his alleged comments before I believe them.

  15. RY says:

    If LTC Brodsky said anything of the sort, it would seem to me to be a failure to appreciate the publicity of this case. Counsel on both sides of the aisle need to be aware of their audiences at all times. TC and DC, for example, who have known each other for some time need to be mindful of the view from the public when they exchange familiarities and how that affects the appearance of military justice. So too do counsel need to appreciate that stray comments, jokes, etc. are amplified in a case with so much publicity.

    Further, Lakin has demonstrated he is more than willing to publicize any and everything that shows the gov’t in a questionable light. Under these circumstances gov’t counsel need to be particularly careful not to create fodder for a media-maniac.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Stop stop stop! Logic makes my head hurt.

  17. Dave says:

    Not to disagree with your point, but “so much publicity”? The defense certainly shows a desire for publicity, but I’d be surprised if as much as 1% of the country has even heard these allegations of a taser comment.

  18. Bridget says:

    Perhaps revealing entirely too much about my age, but I miss the days when we called the highest military court “COMA”. Not sure what the name would be in a blog.

  19. Jason Grover says:

    Knowing none of the facts, I wholeheartedly defend the good LTC. Perhaps that is just because I am a TC whose humor is sometimes underappreciated. . . . And Judge Mathews the Great, I hate it when people sit me down and explain things to me. Indeed, the list of those that can and do dress me down is long and distinguished.

  20. Anon says:

    Bridget…thanks for that reminder. In my youth, the defense counsel often referred to the “COMA Court” as living up to their name when they issued an unpopular opinion!

  21. Wendell says:

    Once?

  22. Anonymous says:

    When is a LTC considered a “young judge advocate officer[]?” Surely Judge Cox was not referring to a field grade officer who has been detailed as counsel for the United States of America in a high profile court-martial.

  23. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    Thank you Goose fans for not completing the quote in the comments section.

    As for the investigation, as someone noted belo9w, what right would MG Hawley-Bowland havbe to investigate LTC Brodsky? LTC Brodsky’s detailing as trial counsel, PCS orders to the command, and promotion to LTC–much less his order to “tase LTC Lakin”–are all invalid.

  24. Christopher Mathews says:

    I was hoping someone would get that reference, No Man.

  25. Phil Cave says:

    Agreed! This was a duty day for the LTC his duty required him to be at the court and then back to his regular duty.
    I had left the area by the time this alleged event happened so have no personal knowledge.
    I am willing to accept that the statements were made. They sound real. If this happened, then I do believe it was wrong of the ATC to do this in a way that it was overheard by the accused. If it happened it’s just not good. Gallows humor is good, behind closed doors in the SJA office.
    Is not LTC Brodsky in the SJA office at WRAMC?

  26. Phil Cave says:

    Having been to a number of out of the beltway military facilities in the last few months, there is little knowledge or interest in LTC Lakin — or that’s my perception outside the beltway and away from us MJ wonks.

  27. Christopher Mathews says:

    Wait. Are you implying there’s a world outside the beltway, where not everyone is a military justice wonk?

  28. Phil Cave says:

    Query?
    What if any role did Vince Averna have in the real case at GitMo that was later made infamous in a movie called a few good women?
    Query?
    Why did they have the Army JAGC symbol hanging on the podium in a supposed Navy court-room.

  29. Phil Cave says:

    No Chris, there is objective evidence not implication. LOL.

  30. Anon says:

    Mr. Cave, If we had a dollar for every Navy JAG who was on active duty when the “real case at GitMo” went down and now claims that the character portrayed in the movie by Tom Cruise was them, we would be wealthy men! I actaully saw a roadside billboard once which contained that cliam by a candidate for elected office.

  31. Phil Cave says:

    Try, he was the SJA.

  32. Glenn says:

    But he went to the Burger King after the hearing and talked with CNN. Was that prohibited?

  33. Phil Cave says:

    Burger King, no. He’s allowed to get lunch and that’s done all the time.
    As to meeting with CNN during his lunch break. Well, he was on duty in uniform? So why can’t that be prohbited?