The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of defendants can be read here.$file/12-5038-1447998.pdf

Judge Sentelle writes for the court, which affirms the lower court.

10 Responses to “Partington v. Houck, et al”

  1. Curious says:

    Partington was the wrong plaintiff to challenge the utterly ridiculous and Kafkaesque Navy PR process, but perhaps some day the right sympathetic challenger will take up the cause.  A question for another day:  has a litigant been given “notice and opportunity to be heard” if senior officers order him to turn over exculpatory files, omit any mention of these files or their exculpatory content from the complaint, require the litigant to submit a FOIA request to retrieve said exculpatory documents in order to adequately respond to the allegations, and then refuse to turn them over citing the work product exemption? (the irony of course being that it is the litigant’s own work product at issue)
    Another question for another day: where a violation of the UCMJ is clearly only military in nature (for example, consensual adultery with a person unconnected to military justice) should OJAG be bringing PR complaints, subjecting that attorney to reciprocal discipline and possible loss of license, or are there perhaps more appropriate forums? (ones with the nasty side effect of actual due process…)
    And what of senior officers who, in the process of “investigating” incidents at the direction of higher authorities with the clear intent to pring a PR complaint fail to properly issue 31b warnings or adhere to the dictates of the Privacy Act?
    More and more the Navy Yard is starting to resemble the Star Chamber.

  2. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    Hello Curious,
    Interesting that you suggest the hypothetical that JAG uses the Professional Responsibility rules to discipline lawyers for conduct that might violate the UCMJ but does not implicate the PR rules.  Have you in fact seen this happen?  I am also curious, because there are quite a few instances of misconduct that may offend military justice but in no way implicate an attorney’s fitness to practice law. 
    Your example of adultery is a fine one.  If adultery actually implicated ones fitness to practice law, thousands of  lawyers a year would be disciplined under the various state bar rules.  Fraternization is another example, I think, of something that does not implicate the PR rules.  Can you imagine a civilian lawyer being disciplined for getting to chummy with a secretary or paralegal at her firm?
    Kind regards,

  3. stewie says:

    Every adultery case I’ve seen involving a JAG (granted it’s a small number) has involved some level of GOMOR and nothing more, certainly nothing PR-related.
    Sleeping with a client, sure; but not adultery or fraternization.

  4. Curious says:

    Short answer: Yes.  Quite recently in fact.

  5. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    Curious, or anyone else who knows . . . do the JAGs publish the results of these disciplinary hearings?  Are they publicly available?  Anyone know any more information about lawyers disciplined by a JAG for adultery or frat, and what has subsequently happened with that lawyer’s state bar?  I have difficulty imagining a state bar reflexively imposing reciprocal discipline in a case where the underlying conduct is not a violation of PR rules anywhere outside the military.
    Kind regards,

  6. Curious says:

    well, I believe one such case is currently pending, so time will tell.  Others have, as I understand it, been subject to initial discipline and then, upon request for review, had the adverse action rescinded by the state.  The problem is, many states do not do an automatic de novo review.  It is up to the attorney to make the case for why one is needed (e.g. this is not actually a PR issue, and has no bearing on fitness to practice law, despite OJAG’s claim to the contrary).  That appeal comes along with the attendant stress, inconvenience, and legal fees.  I am forced to conclude that OJAG is either woefully ignorant on most things PR, or willfully malicious.  I really cannot discern which is the case.

  7. Curious says:

    No, I was referring to Navy cases that did not stem from courts-martial to my knowledge, however, that one is pretty troubling as well. 

  8. TC says:

    How did you become aware of these cases?  I can see how you might hear about one if you know the parties involved, but where do you find out about multiple cases of PR issues being sent to state bars?

  9. Curious says:

    The JAG Corps is a small world full of people who like to talk.  I am aware of at least 2.  One pending, one past.