I was just crunching some military justice stats when I noticed something interesting about the Coast Guard’s military justice record in Fiscal Year 2011:  every court-martial prosecution resulted in a conviction.  The Coast Guard tried 6 GCMs, 32 SPCMs, and 19 SCMs in FY 2011; the accused was convicted in all of them.  During the previous fiscal year, every Coast Guard SPCM and SCM resulted in a conviction, but the accused was aquitted in two of the twelve GCMs.  In FY 2009 and 2008, every Coast Guard SPCM and SCM also ended in a conviction, though in each of theose years there was one or more acquittal at a Coast Guard GCM.  We have to go back to Fiscal Year 2007 to find the last Coast Guard acquittal at a special court-martial (though we don’t yet have data for this fiscal year).  And we have to go back to Fiscal Year 2000 to find the last Coast Guard summary court-martial that resulted in an acquittal.

4 Responses to “The Coast Guard’s perfect record”

  1. Matt says:

    Is that a good thing? I guess on one hand its good that they are not bringing cases to trial that don’t deserve to be brought. On the other hand, I always have believed that at least a few acquittals is good for the system.

  2. Nancy Truax says:

    Dwight — are you talking only about contested cases or do your stats include guilty pleas as well?  If your stats include guilty pleas, not all of those people stayed convicted.  OS3 Johnson’s (2005) guilty pleas were set aside in their entirety (2008) because there was no inquiry by the military judge regarding mental responsibility when the issue was raised on sentencing.  BM3 Hughes’ (2003) guilty pleas were based on extraterritorial application of the CPPA (set aside in 2005).  There may be others, but these two spring to mind. 

    And with respect to contested cases, another member had his single-spec possession conviction (2009) disapproved by the CA (2010) as the result of a post-trial agreement.  So, although he was convicted, his conviction was not ultimately approved.

  3. Christopher Mathews says:

    @ Matt

    An acquittal often means the defense was sharp enough to pick up the ball when the prosecution fumbled, and that’s a good thing.  It can also mean that the government was willing to go to trial even when a conviction wasn’t a slam-dunk — which, to my mind, is a good thing, too.  It’s one of the reasons why complaints about high acquittal rates for certain offenses don’t particularly move me.  

  4. NavyDC says:

    Perfect record no more – US v. Schatka last week in Pearl Harbor resulted in an acquittal at GCM.  The charges were four counts of sexual assault (2 different victims), assault, and communication of a threat.  Congrats to the Navy defense team who tried the case!