Here is a very interesting piece from the WSJ on the LTG Helms nomination.  Her career and the facts of the case make Sen. McCaskill’s “permanent hold” on her nomination to be Vice Commander of Air Force Space Command seem a little . . . over the top?  H/t KF

18 Responses to “LTG Helms Nomination – The Facts?”

  1. k fischer says:

    The facts as listed by the author of this opinion piece, if true, seem to be a lot better grounds to disapprove the finding of guilty than the Wilkerson case.  The writer does appear to have a slight bias (I know that’s an understatement), so I wonder what the “good facts” were for the Government.  These bad facts makes me wonder what the panel was thinking, other than splitting the baby in a case where the Captain engages in questionable sexual behavior.

  2. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    Not quite related, but there’s a story I spotted on CNN about someone who falsely accused a guy (non-military) of rape (he went to jail for 5 years) and has been ordered to repay a huge sum of money.  http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2013/06/17/nr-lemon-hostin-accuser-ordered-to-pay.cnn#/video/us/2013/06/17/nr-lemon-hostin-accuser-ordered-to-pay.cnn
    Just another reminder that however hard leadership want to ramp up sexual assault prosecutions, it needs to equally be prepared to tackle false accusations given the consequences to the falsely accused and convicted.  Good order and discipline cuts both ways….

  3. ARMYTC says:

    I have to wonder who on earth would say “hey boss, this is one we take to trial.” I know I wouldn’t.
     
    Did I miss something? When did the House approve stripping clemency powers? I mean, I had a couple of drinks Friday but no where near enough to forget something like THAT.

  4. k fischer says:

    Filed under the category of “I told you so” by Nancy Montgomery at the Stars and Stripes, the AF has determined that Lt Col Wilkerson had an affair that produced a child.  I wonder how that would have affected Lt Gen Franklin’s decision to dismiss the findings had this been known. 

  5. Ama Goste says:

    Anyone seen a copy of Helms’ memo to the file?

  6. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    The articles I’ve seen keep saying that the memo came from her “personal files.”  Which makes me wonder how they got the memo….

  7. Ed says:

    The Memo is in the article written by Colonel Williams

  8. k fischer says:

    Ed, 
     
    Do you have a link to the Article?

  9. justanADC says:

    It’s the SSRN article written by Col Andrew Williams, the link is a few stories down on CAAFlog.  I’m sure I’m stating the obvious, but Col Williams became the SJA for 14 AF in 2011, and Lt Gen Helms overturned the conviction in 2012, while he was still there.  Lt Gen Helms’ memo is attached to Col Williams’ SSRN working paper.  I’m assuming this was with her consent.  The young Capt Herrera may owe a thank you to Col Williams, who likely would have advised Lt Gen Helms on overturning his conviction.

  10. Rubber Ducky says:

    Could Helms have ordered a retrial? 

  11. DMZ says:

    So this shows how courts-martial, with factfinders seeing and hearing witnesses and accused demeanor, can find people like CPT Herrera and LTC Wilkerson guilty because they are in fact dirtbags.  But then through the circus that is the post-trial process, defendants can recast themselves as victims of “the system.”  So why not just get rid of the post-trial process and move straight into mandatory appeals?  If a commander made the call to send someone to trial, then the court-martial convicts and sentences them, hold the commander to his initial referral decision.  Military justice has been brought to its knees by the sheer stupidity of the post-trial process.

  12. k fischer says:

    justanADC, 
     
    So, do you know why SA professors at the hallowed halls of TJAGSA are saying that Helms went against the advice of her SJA?  Because if Helms followed the advice of her SJA, then that would give me a small sense of satisfaction.  
     
    Also, is your moniker a play on a David Lee Roth’s song?

  13. k fischer says:

    DMZ, 
     
    I have never seen or heard anyone refer to the post trial process as a “circus.”   Now, I have heard numerous defense counsel refer to the process as a “rubberstamp.”  I think getting rid of the post trial process because of the rare grant of clemency would be a mistake based on the logic that the CA referred the case and the accused was convicted.  I think that a wide valley exists between the molehill of reasonable grounds it takes to refer a case and the mountain of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that it takes to convict.  
     
    If I am a convening authority in these times, I might be less inclined to dismiss a case pre-referral when the Government has met that low threshold burden in hopes that the panel makes the right call.  Then when I review the ROT and 1105 matters, I might be more inclined to dismiss the charges if there was evidence I did not review prior to the referral, (and I might fire my SJA if he or she knew said facts, but failed to tell me about them pre-referral), or if I hear through the grapevine from panel members that completely unintended UCI reared its ugly in deliberations.  
     
    You are correct that military justice has been brought to its knees by two post trial actions, but I would not refer to the post trial process as sheer stupidity. Perhaps the referral of the case was sheer stupidty and we need the post trial process in the military, now, so we can undo those cases we referred to placate those Members of Congress.
     
    There is an online show WIGS that has an episode “Lauren.”   It is pretty iwell-done IMO, and I would bet the scenario that Lauren faces has occurred more than once.  Hopefully it gets picked up for Season 3, so we can see how the show treats its depiction of military defense attorneys.
     

  14. justanADC says:

    k fischer: I have no idea with the profs are reporting that, but it looks like the original statement was revised based on the comments.  Also, I don’t believe the profs are claiming to have reviewed the ROT, which would have the SJAR showing the “formal” advice of the SJA.  In the Air Force, it is traditional for an SJAR to give a boilerplate recommendation, using a format approved by regulation, to affirm the findings.  An SJAR frequently avoids specific discussion of the evidence, by design, to avoid raising appellate issues.  In my opinion, the “real” advice occurs when an SJA discusses the case privately with the convening authority.  These discussions are almost never reduced to record.  In the Wilkerson case, it appears that these informal reviews of the evidence were much more significant than the formal advice that was reduced to writing and is, by tradition, inherently adverse to raising potential issues.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happened with Lt Gen Helms in the Herrera case.
    I wish I had been creative enough to come up with the DLR reference myself.

  15. Christopher Mathews says:

    @ Ducky – A convening authority may disapprove the findings and sentence and order a rehearing, but under Article 60(e)(3) a rehearing as to the findings of a court-martial cannot be ordered where there was a lack of evidence to support those findings.

  16. Rubber Ducky says:

    @Christopher Mathews : Obrigado. Figured that but not sure. I met Helms a few times in her Boot BG tour in command 45th Space Wing. Not an entirely favorable impression. Misquoting Proverbs, arrogance goeth before the fall, staff-aided arrogance included. I’ve known many astronauts, hot sticks all, but only one IMHO was flag-officer material (Chili). 

  17. Rubber Ducky says:

    @Phil Cave: 
    The difference of course being the hierarchical rank structure of the military being tailor-made for sexual predators. The cultural isolation of the AVF from the nation it serves causes ignorance in those serving of the social norms and prohibitions that act as inhibiters to this aberrant behavior in civilian life. As long as the  military sees sexual assault and its precursors as fundamentally a problem in military justice, it will be in a stern chase on the issue. What’s needed is the same cultural change that moved racism from proscribed but not fatal to a career to its current category: unacceptable in all ways at all times and always deadly. ‘Don’t get caught’ is a thin barrier indeed.