In the wake of the debacle of the Sinclair court-martial, where the defense team used political concerns as a basis to successfully argue that the prosecution of the General was unfair, comes news that a half-century ago President Nixon may have used his office to sabotage a different high-profile court-martial prosecution. From this CBS News report:

The documents, mostly hand-written notes from Nixon’s meetings with his chief of staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, lead some historians to conclude that President Richard Nixon was behind the attempt to sabotage the My Lai trials and cover up what was becoming a public-relations disaster for his administration.

There’s an interesting murder trial wrapping up at Fort Stewart in Georgia. From this local media report:

Closing arguments are set to begin at 8 A.M. [Thursday] in a Fort Stewart Court-Martial. Private Isaac Aguigui is charged with murder in the death of his wife, Sgt. Deirdre Aguigui and their unborn child back in July of 2011. Officials say his plan was to fund his anti-government militia group with the insurance money from her death. This is a court-martial by a judge, not a jury panel, so we’re not sure how quickly a verdict could come.

The Coast Guard Academy will conduct an Article 32 investigation in a sexual assault case involving two cadets. There are few details of the case beyond those in this local media report.

And in further Coast Guard news, this local media report discusses the resumption of trial proceedings in United States v. Bisel:

“The court-martial was originally scheduled to begin on July 30, 2013 but was postponed due to procedural issues,” officials wrote. “Petty Officer Bisel is charged with two violations of Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which involve sexual assault.”

I think calling the delay in this case the product of procedural issues is taking liberties with the facts. As I discussed in this post back in February, the issue in Bisel was that the trial counsel tried, but failed, to allege the offense of forcible rape, instead charging only the lesser offense of aggravated sexual contact. Rather than prefer an additional charge, the Government appealed the military judge’s ruling. The Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals found that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeal because the military judge didn’t actually dismiss anything (the requirement for such an appeal). So, the Government asked the court to order the judge to dismiss the charge, thereby creating jurisdiction for its appeal.

The Coast Guard Court, and then CAAF, declined.

10 Responses to “Military Justice News for Friday, March 28, 2014”

  1. k fischer says:

    That’s awesome!  So, when he dies in a Georgia prison because he got LWOP there, I reckon he can go to Leavenworth in the afterlife.  Too bad the sentence did not include Afterlife without parole……I suppose the Army prosecutors spent the taxpayers well just in case the DA in Georgia screwed up his guilty plea and his conviction gets overturned in Georgia, so he could just get shipped off the Leavenworth awaiting his automatic appeal with the military.

  2. Christopher Mathews says:

    I was prepared to be sympathetic to kf’s concern trolling over the time and effort to convict Pvt. Aguigui in a military court for the same crime he’d been convicted of in a civilian court … until I clicked through to the article and realized that his civilian conviction was for a different pair of murders. 

  3. Cap'n Crunch says:

    CM:  Even so, if he will never see the light of day from a different pair of murders, and there is no practical effect/distinction with this additional conviction, why pursue it?  Why not hold the charges/evidence in case there is ever a risk of his release.  Isn’t there no statute of limitations on this one?

  4. ExTC says:

    CC: So what if he is doing life in another soveriegn’s jail.  If you are the family of the other murder victim, don’t you have a right to seek justice and a day in court, face the accused in sentencing if convicted?   Why wait around and try in the future if he is released? Cases don’t get better with age, SOL’s be damned. If he was released from GA, simply go to Leavenworth without the hassle of a trial 20 years from now. Let him fight two appeals at once. Justice cost money and it appears well spent here. 

  5. Balkan Ghost says:

    Lead sentence of post: after “political concerns,” add “facing the senior Fort Bragg commander”

  6. k fischer says:

    Yeah, I caught that fact, too, before I began trolling.  And, I think ExTC won the debate over Cap’n.  Sorry, Cap’n.  There is another victim’s family, so it is worth the taxpayer’s money to try the court-martial.  As an ancillery benefit, perhaps 3ID won’t have as much money to throw at a BS Article 120 court marital rising up at the end of this fiscal year.
    Interesting that he pleads guilty to two murders and gets LWOP, but fights the wife’s death where the initial coroner did NOT rule the death a homicide.  Other than it gets him out of a Georgia prison for a week by pleading not guilty, wouldn’t he be the kind of guy who would plead guilty if he did it?  I would want that conviction on me, too, to give me some street cred on the inside.  I would think the quickest way to get the Sodomites of your back (literally), would be to tell them, “Yeah, I murdered my wife while copulating.  What do you think I’ll do to you?”  
    Anybody know if he took the stand on findings?  If he didn’t do it, then what does he have to lose by taking the stand? Sounds like all the witnesses for the Government had some 608(c) issues.

  7. Rkincaid3 says:

    SVCs are simply doing their jobs-which are no less disgusting in some cases than DCs who do their jobs.  So the personal attacks on them are quite unprofessional. As, by the way, are many of the comments I have noticed lately on some of the more recent posts.  We should all avoid making statements that pretty much are unworthy of a professional website utilized by professionals in a very public setting.
    As for SVCs doing their jobs, that being said, though, there shouldn’t be a job known as an SVC.  There are and should only be TWO parties to a trial:  the government and the accused. All others are witnesses and non-parties.
    If the SVC program should exist at all, it should exist across the board for ALL VICTIMS of all crime–or it should exist not at all.  After all, what makes sex assault victims any more or less victims of crime than any other victim of crime?  And what about that distinction gives them more standing (or others less standing) to intervene in determining what evidence is discoverable and appropriate for use at trial? Nothing but politics and the inane agendas driving the politics.
    Zeke is correct.  The justice system is supposed to serve SOCIETY at large (in the civilian world) and MJ is supposed to serve good order and discipline in the military society (right now, I am only addressing the current system–not abandoning my historic opposition to a conflated and abusive justice/disciplinary system).  What this SVC system has done is create classes of victims–some worthy of certain protections, services and legal standing to intervene in a prosecution where others are not so worthy.  It has increased the abusiveness of the MJ system systemically–only aggravating the need for wide sweeping reforms of the UCMJ.  And complete reforms–no more tinkering by those who lack either the experience or education (not to mention the judgment free of political taint) necessary to evolve the UCMJ into a more just justice system.
    The SVC program is the antithesis of the MJ evolution–it is tinkering towards a certain effect without regard to the overall consequences of the tinkering–it is devolution where we substitute the subjective approval of the commander in the outcome of the trial for the subjective approval of the victim (and/or their political lobby) in the outcome of the trial.  Such subjective measures of success are antithetical to accepted civilized concepts of justice, such as the fairness of the process to the two parties in a trial.  As I have oft stated previously, justice is a process, not a result.  And when we forget–for political or other reasons–we as a society fail to serve ourselves the very justice we deserve as Americans–and we likewise get what we deserve in return.
    By creating an SVC program, we have institutionalized retribution and undermined the primary role of a true justice system: to mete out an appropriate punishment in those cases where the government has met its legal burden under law.  Giving a victim of any crime the legal resources and ability to intervened (more like interfere) with the process–especially regarding discovery of potentially exculpatory evidence–the system is out of balance as a reasonable observer judging the system will see a 2 vs 1 tag-team wrestling match where all that matters is winning–the justness of the results (or the process) be damned.
    Make no mistake, my objection to third-party intervention in criminal trials (outside of amicus briefs on appeals) is not about sympathy for an accused.  It has everything to do with a system that is breaking right in front of us for no better reason than politics–and our collective willingness to accept further the erosion of the utterly minimal concepts of justice currently part of the UCMJ that provide barely minimal confidence in the results of a trial as part of a civilized society.  With the development of SVC interevenors, we are heading in the wrong direction, folks.

  8. k fischer says:

    Wrong post, Kimosabe.  I think you meant to comment on the string of posts for US v. Kearns.

  9. RKincaid3 says:

    Yep.  Intermittent connection got confoosed. Oh well.