In the justice delayed category we have this report from Marine Corps Times about unresolved alleged miclsconduct by the Marine Corps head of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate in Quantico, Va. Apparently this misconduct came to light in March 2013 and resulted in Col. Tracy Tafolla’s removal as commander of the directorate. But no action has been taken since that time. The actions fall into the gray area between sexual harassment and sexual assault. But if Colonel Taffola was Staff Sergeant Taffola, I think the chances are high there would already be preferred charges. Whether that’s the right result or not is a different question and one you can’t answer without more facts.  Update:  A commenter noted that at the end of the article the Marine Corps spokesman stated that NJP proceedings are not released to the public (which is actually not true, the services release that info when it suits their needs): “It’s possible, though, that he will receive nonjudicial punishment as a result of the accusations, or that he has already accepted an NJP. Runyon said that because NJP proceedings are not open to the public, he could not release any information about that process.”  So justice may not be delayed as NJP may have been imposed.  So there you go, maybe justice has not been delayed and this O-6 has received NJP for this conduct.

13 Responses to “Military Justice News for July 22, 2014”

  1. Sea Lawyer says:

    Different spanks for different ranks?

  2. AlwaysWrong says:

    With all the military justice practicioners on here, I would think you would be a little more responsible than to say “but no action has been taken since that time.”
    Really?  Are you sure?  These types of things can (and sometimes do) take a while.
    Of course, that doesn’t mean something is happening, but I would expect more from you than just to dismiss the notion that the Marine Corps is not doing something.

  3. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    AW–Good catch, I missed the statement from the Marine Corps about NJP and have added it to the story.  Question still remains, if this was an enlisted Marine, would we even be talking about whether NJP was at issue?

  4. Saul Goodman says:

    I like to the call this the CAPT Honors rule.  SECNAV directed JAG to change the JAGMAN 0115 to release NJP results with names and offenses and punishment for senior officers.
    JAGMAN 2012: Summary of changes
    Section 115(f). Revised to explicitly indicate that thepublic interest warrants disclosure of NJP results in casesof misconduct involving flag and general officers and SESpersonnel in order to retain the public’s confidence andtrust. Further, misconduct involving commanding officers,executive officers, officers-in-charge, senior enlistedadvisors and other personnel of lower rank or grade may alsowarrant release.

  5. AlwaysWrong says:

    Mike, I think you are largely correct that junior enlisted Marines would be treated differently.  BUT, I’m not sure the same applies to senior enlisted.
    I think here, and in a lot of cases, there is a difference in treatment between those that are at or near retirement eligibility and those that are not.  So, I think a Captain with 6 years in and a Sergeant with 6 years in may be treated similarly, but different from a Colonel or Sergeant Major with 20-25 years in.
    I don’t know if that’s true, but I do get the sense that it is less of an officer v. enlisted thing than an senior guy v. junior guy thing (caveat, I don’t necessarily mean this case; I’m more speaking generally).

  6. Zeke says:

    I definitely think seniority can tend to come with mitigating circumstances that give decision-makers pause before imposing more severe punishments that they wouldn’t be reluctant to impose against junior folks.  Considerations such as: the loss of retirement or the deterrent effect inherent in knowing that another misdeed could cause the loss of retirement, the accused having children who would suffer for the imprisonment of that individual, a spouse who would suffer, a history of good character and conduct indicating less likelihood of recidivism, community organizations which would suffer for the loss of that individual, community-imposed social sanctions that make recidivism less likely, elderly or sick parents who would suffer, and a diminished likelihood of committing future misconduct because of a demonstrated capacity to be corrected.  In short, older accused often have stronger mitigating factors which must be considered in disposition decisions.

  7. StoryUpdated says:

    FYI, he was NJP’ed.  MCT updated their article this afternoon to reflect that a Marine Corps official acknowledged that he was NJP’ed (but not the punishment).
    Still, of course, not very serious given his behavior…

  8. Little SMO says:

    Well, he got NJP….OK, but what about the victim in all of this, or any individual(s) that somehow suffered as a result of this behavior? Anything been done to right the wrongs?
    And why is it you see proceedings from NJP posted all over the place for the Privates, yet the Colonels get tight-lipped statements from PAOs?

  9. Some Army Guy says:

    For those of you complaining about NJP, what exactly would you court-martial him for and what results would you expect?
    This is a defense-oriented blog (for better or for worse).  This guy has had a long and apparently successful career.  What kind of punishment would he get?

  10. dyskolos says:

    For punishment, I suspect a reprimand, harshly worded, and forfeitures. Of course there is also the likely prospect of a Secretarial grade determination should he retire immediately, which could cost him (and his family) dearly for the remainder of his life.

  11. Houseboat says:

    Some Army Guy,
    UCMJ Article 93. If someone (female) has to request a co-worker stick around to insure she is never alone with this guy, then, all day every day and twice on Christmas, Art 93. It’s maltreatment.
    Long career is meaningless. For the government to argue otherwise, in the middle of a drawdown where long & successful careers are being ended for no defined reason, would invalidate their downsize plan and more importantly it would invalidate a commander’s decision not to move forward with separation proceedings against this individual, should he state that the long and successful career is a mitigating factor. Also the disparity in prosecution actions are a tactic of deliberate avoidance by the DoD, allowing more of its people to be maltreated as senior officers continue to behave in this manner and continue to face little or no punishment. Side note: when the Art120 crowd begins to think in these terms, rather than spectacles of Bivens actions that SCOTUS foreclosed not long ago, they’ll start making progress. 
    Punishment – Conviction, reprimand, separation with OTH.
    Save the arguments about the guy’s family. The DoD doesn’t care about Sergeant Joe’s family when they toss the book at him or her, so forget applying that now. 

  12. dyskolos says:

    Justice consists of treating equals equally and unequals unequally.  Aristotle

  13. Some Army Guy says:

    Houseboat, You realize that the punishment you describe is no more than you could get with an Article 15, right?  So why did you waste your time convening a court-martial of colonels and generals to get what he got at the Article 15? As to the OTH.  Do you know what it takes to get an OTH on an officer with over 18 years of service?