Readers may recall the Wright case, which was an Air Force sexual assault prosecution that was dismissed last year by Air Force Lieutenant General Craig Franklin. After General Franklin dismissed the charges, authority over the case was transferred to Air Force District of Washington in Maryland, new charges were preferred, a second Article 32 pretrial investigation was conducted, and the charges were referred to trial. Litigation of defense claims of unlawful command influence followed, and the trial judge eventually abated the proceedings after the Government asserted an attorney-client privilege over documents sought by the defense in connection with those claims. The Government appealed that abatement and the AFCCA reversed, finding that the military judge’s findings were incomplete.

I discussed the AFCCA’s decision in this post. I summarized our prior coverage of the case in this post.

In a story available here, the Air Force Times reports that Airman Wright was just acquitted of all charges at trial:

An airman has been found not guilty of sexual assault after his case was transferred from Europe to Washington following a three-star general’s initial decision not to proceed with a court-martial.

A military panel of three officers and four enlisted airmen exonerated Senior Airman Brandon Wright on Wednesday evening, said Maj. Joel Harper, a spokesman for the Air Force District of Washington.

Wright had been accused of aggravated sexual assault in connection with a July 2012 incident while he was stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Wright had also been charged with rape, but the prosecution later withdrew that charge.

Update: As noted in the comments, Stars & Stripes also has a report about the case, available here.

67 Responses to “Airman Wright Acquitted”

  1. Charlie Gittins says:

    This young man was needlessly exposed to a politically motivated show trial.  Fortunately, the good judgment of the members reiterated what the original Article 32 investigating officer and LTG Franklin courageously confirmed, before the UCI train left the station.  The case should not have gone to trial and everyone on the Government side received a needed and well deserved spanking.  Bravo, justice!
     

  2. DCGoneGalt says:

    Disappointing to see that a years-long process resulted in a public trial and still the Air Force Times does not print the actual facts of this case.  I guess reporting actual facts that allow the public to form opinions of their own is too old-school to be considered journalism.  Did the reporter even sit through the findings of the case?  Or does modern journalism consist of getting PA releases/calls from base when a verdict is in?  Instead, the article focuses on the leader of the POD-People and a former SVC and says the defense was unavailable for comment.  Maybe the defense felt that the facts of the case were comment enough but I guess the Air Force Times feels reporting the actual facts isn’t relevant.  Sigh.
     
    The victim in this case was Airman Brandon Wright.

  3. Terri Zimmermann says:

    What a great use of taxpayer dollars. When commands start refusing to take bad cases to trial their conviction rate will go up and Congress will be happy.

  4. k fischer says:

    I like how the anonymous victim is deemed a “survivor” by POD, which by POD’s use of the term “Defender” apparently does not include the survivor and victim of a false accusation: Airman Brandon Wright.  It would be nice if the AF Times could report on some of the facts that probably led to the acquittal.
     
    Re: the Convening Authority who sent this case to another Article 32 and referred it:  Thanks for playing “Should We or Should We Not Follow the Advice of the Galactically Stupid.” 
     
    Re: the SVC and the SVP who believed in this case: I can only imagine that their training was akin to what Liev Schreiber and Denzel Washington’s characters received in “Manchurian Candidate” or perhaps this scene which very well could have been shot in the deepest bowels of Maxwell AFB.
     
    At some point, I am sure that many of us will have a stable of false allegation victims from incredibly absurd cases that should be investigated by the DoD to determine how the case got past an Article 32.  Of course, nobody cares about false allegations. If I were Wright, I would as an accuser consider filling out a DD Form 458 with some 107 charges and maybe some 134 charges against the anonymous accuser.

  5. (Former) ArmyTC says:

    The victim in this case was Airman Brandon Wright.

    DCGG, I couldn’t agree more. I will add that LTG Franklin lost a star because of this case as well, and the USAF lost a principled commander who wasn’t afraid to take a stand against the “Galactically Stupid”

  6. Denny Crane says:

    One result from the acquittal is that the record the trial judge relied on in finding the former TJAG committed actual UCI will never receive the light of day.

  7. RY says:

    K Fischer, to be fair, I don’t think we can fault the SVC or SVP who ultimately have a job to do and not necessarily the luxury of rejecting decisions that are out of their hands.  Just as DC do not always believe their clients but nevertheless must abide by the client’s key decisions, so too do SVCs.  I am not, nor have I ever been, an SVC but I’ve known several who personally did not believe in their clients but nevertheless had to represent them zealously.  In this case, the process failed and Amn Wright waited far too long for closure. 

  8. Tami a/k/a Princess Leia says:

    Excellent!  Total waste of $$ to pursue this after the first Article 32.
     
    The SVC in this case was the AF CPT who left the AF on a bad note, something about her posting to Gillibrand’s Facebook page about “as an SVC, I support Gillibrand’s effort to take sex assault cases away from the military.”  I’m certainly not going to fault the SVC for believing in her client’s case, but I do fault the Government folks for pursuing a BS case, though this certainly isn’t the first time the Government has done that.

  9. Tami a/k/a Princess Leia says:

    “An empowered independent military prosecutor based justice system would have ensured the administration of swift and efficient justice” by making sure this case never saw the inside of a courtroom after the FIRST Article 32 hearing.
     
    And the reason why this wasn’t “swift and efficient” justice is because Government got caught up in politics.

  10. Burt Macklin says:

    Well, thank heavens the sovereign trained his defense team so well that they were able to secure this acquittal.  Based on the write up for LaBella, we can safely classify this as a big Government win!  To borrow from the comment’s section, “The Air Force trained the counsel, certified the counsel, detailed the counsel, and supervises the counsel….”  Way to go Government!  USA!  USA! USA!

  11. k fischer says:

    RY,
     
    Yeah, I agree with you to a certain extent, although I think the SVC in this case would qualify as a true believer.  She has made her opinion known about what transpired at the trial on the interwebs, which sounds akin to the true believer Mola Ram was trying to make Indy.  Perhaps, I should have qualified my snarky movie references with an “if” the SVC and SVP believed the accuser.  I’m just assuming they did. 
     
    And, of course, taking into account that my knowledge of the case is based on what I have read about in military news sources because I was not at the trial, perhaps there was a bunch of evidence that indicated she was telling the truth.  For instance, perhaps she maintained a consistent narrative between the Article 32’s and the Court-martial, forensic evidence existed to support her claim, independent witnesses could testify that she was telling Wright to stop, she kept the facts that she told her friends straight, etc, and the first SJA, Franklin, the 32 officer, and over 1/3 of the panel got it wrong.

  12. Ed says:

    C. G. You are correct. Based upon the totality of the information available it was truly a show trial one that Andrey Vyshinsky would have been proud of. Given the acquittal I doubt the full story will ever come out.

  13. Matt says:

    There are many cases where it is a close call as to whether it should go to trial.  This was not that case.  Everybody involved in pushing this to trial should be reported for fraud, waste, and abuse…

  14. RY says:

    I know the SVC in this case.  I had a couple of cases where she represented the alleged victim.  Her public presentation did not always reflect her private opinion.  Whatever her personal view of a case, she fought publicly as if she believed in the case as many counsel do.  I see where you are coming from, KF.  I just don’t think it necessarily applies in this case and I think any fault rests on much higher shoulders. 

  15. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    I wish there were some public study, or at least a Michael Moore type of documentary, that shows the negative effects of this type of court-martial on a command.  If I were A1C Wright, I’d be putting in papers to get the hell out of the military at the earliest opportunity, or at least petitioning the AFBCMR to correct any negative career impact that resulted from this slow-drag political game.  I mean, this guy has no reason to ever trust a commander ever again, nor tell any of his fellow members or potential recruits he meets do the same.  If you can be publicly thrown under the bus like this, why on Earth would you ever want to take orders from anyone you work for ever again?  What the hell is his command supposed to say to him the next morning?  “Sorry?  Here’s your broom, get back to work?”
     
    Relatedly, I’m curious how the “victim” in the Naval Academy case is doing with her career.  There’s no way her teammates on whatever ship she’s assigned to don’t know about who she is or what she put a fellow cadet (who’s no longer in) through.

  16. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    I also wonder if General Franklin can get his rank back, although the decision in Schwalier last year would suggest that he can’t short of going to the President.

  17. k fischer says:

    I wonder if the acquittal will have any effect on the Plaintiff’s complaint Susan Burke filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, case number 1:15-cv-00424-GBL-TCB. 
     
     

  18. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    Yes.  It means she’ll amend her complaint to include the complainant not getting justice in that case.

  19. DCGoneGalt says:

    Denny Crane:  Who knows, perhaps the former TJAG sees what happened in this case as a victory of the system.  Well, except that it the system too long to get to trial, i.e. didnt have enough “celerity”.
     
    RY:  You’re right about the SVC.  You can think her comments are wrong in that they are disconnected from the facts (and I do) but she represents her client.  Adults with stars should have stopped this show trial years ago.  Instead, as ResIpsaLoquitur pointed out, it destroys the trust in those who are in charge.  The POD-People leader is correct in that, when politics enter the question, commanders cannot be trusteded to make the right call.  But he’s right in the way that a stopped clock is right twice a day because the failure of command in this case sure as hell wasn’t on Gen Franklin’s part.

  20. Concerned Defender says:

    Time to start filing grievances against the Staff Judge Advocates and Trial Counsel who take these absurd cases to trial, wasting collectively millions of tax dollars on the whole “victim supply chain.” 
    We are watching our military dissolve into a side show of social works program of alleged victims – from transgenders who aren’t treated fairly to the army of women who cannot defend themselves from the “predatory” male service member.  What a farse. 
    The courageous leaders who try to do the right thing are time and again suffering from UCI at the top.  Meanwhile, by the time the dust settles, the OERs for these moronic SJAs and TCs have been signed and filed and they’re onto their next big assignment.
    But the koolaid drinkers will again ignore this and beat the drum of “justice” louder…  and we’ll watch as our military dissolves further into the absurd comedy of errors….

  21. Civil Damages says:

    It seems to me that former-TJAG Harding should consult counsel.  A military judge found he committed an illegal act in pushing this case to trial (UCI) and, as a result, Wright was made to suffer the anxiety that comes with being made to face an Article 32 investigation and trial a second time.  The fact that Harding’s conduct was illegal (even potentially criminal under Art 98) makes it, at least arguably, outside of the performance of his official duties.  He might therefore not be protected by the Feres doctrine from a civil suit levied against him in his personal capacity.  It seems to me that E-4 Wright might have a cognizable claim for a little bit of former O-9 Harding’s retired pay.  If the suit wasn’t tossed on summary judgment, which it might survive, Harding would be a fool to let it go to jury.  The white general who engaged in illegal activity as he pushed to have a black junior enlisted man prosecuted for allegedly raping a white woman, even after everyone told the general that the allegation was bogus, and which a court-martial later found to be bogus, wouldn’t necessarily come out of that proceeding with his pocketbook in-tact.  

  22. stewie says:

    It’s always entertaining to watch a major issue that has legitimate concerns to it, come at from an angle that devolves into transgenders and women and “social works programs” (you know like, integration).
     
    Or not.

  23. k fischer says:

    Nancy Montgomery did a story for the S&S, which is a little better with the facts.
     

    “I’m disappointed that the panel did not convict him; however, I am happy that the Air Force finally took the case seriously, as it should have from the start, and my former client received the day in court that she deserved,” said [Former SVC] “I think the fact that the jury deliberated for three hours and asked to see some of the evidence showed that this wasn’t the slam-dunk case that Gen. (Craig) Franklin and others predicted it would be.”

     
    Wright did not testify in this case, and it resulted in a full acquittal.  In a Court-martial, that sounds pretty slam dunk to me, as the accused takes a huge risk when he goes panel and does not testify. 
     

    Guilds said that questions asked by the jury members during trial — a unique aspect of U.S. military law — showed a regressive military “mind-set” about sexual assault.
    One officer on the panel asked the judge if the jury could see the sergeant’s performance evaluations and ribbons. Another wanted to know whether the sergeant had ever cheated on her fiancee, Guilds said. “They have absolutely no bearing in the case; they’re totally irrelevant,” he said.
     

    Perhaps, Mr. Guilds hasn’t read U.S. v. Ellerbrock, 70 M.J. 314 (App. Armed Forces 2011)(Probative value of evidence of alleged victim’s prior extramarital affair, which was relevant to whether victim had a motive to lie about the consensual nature of her sexual encounter with accused, outweighed dangers of unfair prejudice in prosecution for rape and sodomy by force, in determining whether it was admissible under the rape shield rule’s exception for constitutionally required evidence; credibility of victim’s testimony about whether she consented was crucial to accused’s conviction, and such evidence was unlikely to result in a waste of time or lead to a trial within a trial, since there is no dispute as to whether the affair occurred)
    If the complaining witness was engaged at the time of the intercourse, and she had previously cheated on her fiancé, then that could be relevant to argue that she had a motive to fabricate.  Because for what reason would she make up such an allegation, but to cover for her consensual intercourse.  As far as the performance evaluations go, perhaps the officer on the panel requesting those records want to see if she is honest.  Or, what if her EPR’s showed that she was a horrible duty performer, which might indicate why she would report she was raped, so she could stay in.
     
    It’s easy to argue that someone has a 30 year old mindset with regards to sexual assault where the questions on the surface could be an improper reason to want to see the evidence.  For instance, what if the panel president asked how tight the pants were that she was wearing.  You would hear a cacophony of “victim blamer” in unison from across the country screaming, ‘Just because a woman wears tight pants doesn’t mean that she deserves to be raped!”  However, if her testimony was that he pulled her on top of him and took her pants off as she was fighting him, and her pants were so tight it would take clamps and some WD40 to pull them off, then that could be used to impeach her story.
     
    And, think about the physics required for a man to pull a woman on top of him and insert his penis inside her vagina.  I think it would be quite difficult to rape a woman while she was on top while she did not cry out when another Airman was in the other room reading Fifty Shades of Grey (did he bring that book over or was it on her nightstand).   Also, I would like to know what the inconsistencies were in her story.  The prosecutor did drop the rape charge, so a small part of the case must have fallen apart.

  24. Javert says:

    @ k fischer.  I think it’s wildly inappropriate to attack the former SVC for zealously advocating for her client.   That is little different than attacking a TDS attorney for his or her zealous advocacy.  Reasonable minds may differ as to whether this case belonged in court in the first place , but an attorney assigned to represent an alleged victim who advocates for her is doing her job.  The ad hominem personal attacks are misplaced. 

  25. Charlie Gittins says:

    Javert’s post made me go back and re-read all the posts on this forum.  Sorry, I have to disagree . . .  I didn’t see any ad hominem attacks.  I thought all was fair comment.  This particular SVC put herself on the internet and made public statements that were used by a politician with an agenda; her views are fair game for comment.  Sorry.  I am afraid thee doth protest too much.
     

  26. mike says:

    At what point will someone see that the military justice system is broken.  This war on sexual assault is a war on an enemy that doesn’t exist.  The military pursued weak cases 10 or 15 years ago and now it is just insane. Anyone who recommends military service to their male children is a fool – well I guess as long as they abstain from being around any female a la Burris, Wright, Sinclair —- I really wish the facts of these cases were put forth in detail. The Army Times, Air Force Times etc… lack any type of journalistic credibility.  I think it is time for another front page story on the new APFU – time for another story on the new OER/NCOER and you.   Sad to see what could otherwise be a decent justice system go further down the toilet.
     
    What brainless fool decided that sending E-7s to SHARP school for a few weeks made them qualified to do anything? Ask any 10 people on a military installation if drunk people can have sex without it being sexual assault and 8 of them will say no – it is sexual assault. Get out the charge sheets. On top of this you have the Keystone Kops in their Kmart suits “investigating” these “crimes”, while doing everything they can to avoid exculpatory evidence and witnesses. I would like to see an independent investigation done by real law enforcement agents about the tactics, techniques, procedures, practices etc… employed by CID’s so called Special Agents- not what the regs say but what they actually do as a matter of practice and see what real law enforcement agents find. Put a 100 or so agents under oath and question them about what they have been told to do and watch what you find out – it won’t be pretty.

  27. k fischer says:

    Javert,
     
    I think your description of my post being an “attack” is…….hyperbofreakingle.  An attack by me would be far greater.  I’m quoting a S&S article that the former SVC subjected herself to disagreement, and I am respectfully disagree with her quote and making a joke out of a Indiana Jones movie reference.  I disagree and think an acquittal where the accused does not testify in front of a panel is indicative of a slam dunk.  And, Ellerbock says that such a question could be relevant.
     
    An attack?  A “wildly” inappropriate “attack?”  I would tell you to grow some thick skin, but I’m afraid you wouldn’t be able to handle it and throw yourself off a bridge…..again……..Jean Valjean Rules!
     
    I argued some dogs of a case as a TDS attorney, and was poked fun at, yet I never told anyone that it was wildly inappropriate to make ad hominem person attacks against me.  By the way, do you think it’s wildly inappropriate for two attorneys to express disappointment with the verdict and say that the verdict showed a regressive mindset after this poor Airman was finally acquitted?  He finally obtains as much justice as the system will allow with his name plastered all over the internet, and the two lawyers for the complaining witness say the panel got it wrong and its like they went back in time 30 years, and this woman is still a “survivor.”  Sorry, but this does not tend to make my cup of sympathy runneth over.
     
    But, I appreciate you sharing your opinion and in the future I will strive to speak only about my disagreement with the SVC program in general, rather, than the performance of some attorneys in specific cases, even when they make public comments that denigrate the acquitted and the panel who acquitted him, because I do strive to take the high road.

  28. DCGoneGalt says:

    The S&S article at least has some semblance of facts to it.  The AF Times may as well just limit their court martial coverage to 140 character tweets with emoticons or create an amusing meme.
     
     

  29. DCGoneGalt says:

    The S&S article at least has some semblance of facts to it.  The AF Times may as well just limit their court martial coverage to 140 character tweets with emoticons or create an amusing meme.
    Someone needs to FOIA everything from report to acquittal and post it online.  
     

  30. thewritesofweiss says:

    The leader of the POD people is correct — she is a survivor. She survived the acquittal, and will still remain a victim in the eyes of the military and VA for disability benefits.

  31. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    I dropped the Air Force Times back in 2008 when they had very obviously partisan coverage of the elections.  I don’t mind coverage of elections as they relate to the military, as long as they keep it objective (Clinton says she’ll do this; Rubio says he’ll do this, etc.).  This was blatant “we’re pulling for this guy” coverage.  Oh, and the editorials were just awful.
    I’ll read the website, but I won’t pay for it no matter how many knockoff multi-tools they’ll offer me.

  32. Seamus Collins says:

    Why does one specific type of crime receive so much attention, money, and publicity?  One would think offenses like attempted murder would also warrant attention, money, and publicity but that is not the case.  If a person touches someone else on the butt, he or she is entitled to SVC representation, on the other hand if a person shoots another individual and that individual survies, he or she is not entitled to SVC representation.  Aren’t they both “survivors?” 
    The difference is politics.  I have represented too many clients at trial for unsupported sexual assault allegations simply because it “is a Art 120 offense” and the command felt compelled to take it to trial.  Even though the panel acquitted Wright, he will have to put on every job application that he was tried at a GCM for sexual assault.  However, no one cares about the Accused’s rights even though our system is built on providing the Accused with rights and not providing rights to the victim.   Victims have interests, Accuseds’ have rights.  Unfortunately, if it involves Article 120, the military would rather play it safe and send it to a court-martial.
    But playing it “safe” for the command ultimately hurts the Accused.  I just wish the military would pay as much attention to crimes like attempted murder than they do to Article 120 offenses. 
    Why are we treating one UCMJ offense special? 

  33. Concerned Defender says:

    At what point will someone see that the military justice system is broken.  This war on sexual assault is a war on an enemy that doesn’t exist.  The military pursued weak cases 10 or 15 years ago and now it is just insane. Anyone who recommends military service to their male children is a fool – well I guess as long as they abstain from being around any female a la Burris, Wright, Sinclair —- I really wish the facts of these cases were put forth in detail. The Army Times, Air Force Times etc… lack any type of journalistic credibility.  I think it is time for another front page story on the new APFU – time for another story on the new OER/NCOER and you.   Sad to see what could otherwise be a decent justice system go further down the toilet. What brainless fool decided that sending E-7s to SHARP school for a few weeks made them qualified to do anything? Ask any 10 people on a military installation if drunk people can have sex without it being sexual assault and 8 of them will say no – it is sexual assault. Get out the charge sheets. On top of this you have the Keystone Kops in their Kmart suits “investigating” these “crimes”, while doing everything they can to avoid exculpatory evidence and witnesses. I would like to see an independent investigation done by real law enforcement agents about the tactics, techniques, procedures, practices etc… employed by CID’s so called Special Agents- not what the regs say but what they actually do as a matter of practice and see what real law enforcement agents find. Put a 100 or so agents under oath and question them about what they have been told to do and watch what you find out – it won’t be pretty.

    Bingo. 

  34. k fischer says:

    Seamus,
     
    Hillary Clinton stated in a speech she gave in Little Rock in 1987 that in order to combat domestic violence we need to change the attitudes of men and women through changing our institutions.  After her husband was elected president in 1992, the Violence Against Women Act was passed providing federal funding to combat domestic violence by setting up shelters, provide victim services, etc.  It is ironic that her husband was accused of sexual assault by women who were not afforded the “Start by Believing” mantra employed today.  So, VAWA created a special class of victim, Women, for a special class of crime, domestic and sexual violence.
     
    Since its inception, OVW has awarded over $6 billion in grants and cooperative agreements, and has launched a multifaceted approach to implementing VAWA.  That is a lot of money for organizations to combat sexual assault.   This money has been used to support various articles to be written using VAWA funds.  For instance, Dr. Veronique Valliere article “Understanding the Non-Stranger Rapist” was supported by Violence Against Women Act Funds.  Valliere has testified in approximately 40-50 courts-martial, the most famous being US v. MAJ Erik Burris.  She probably didn’t make a truckload of money, if any, to write this article from the $6 billion, but I would be interested in knowing the amount she was paid.
     
    But, what if victim advocates could plug into a trillion dollar budget of an organization like the DoD?  For instance, RAINN increased it’s revenue by over 50% in 2013 when it received an increase in funds for its government contract to provide the military Safeline for victims of sexual assault.  The $2.24 million it is paid makes up 58% of its total revenue.  The other portion of its revenue is from contributions through fundraising.  That is just one organization.
     
    So, then you look out how much the military receives to combat sexual assault:  $156 million in NDAA14 + $25 million for SVC’s, and $257 in the NDAA15, with another $25 million for the SVC program.  Think about all the stakeholders who might benefit that kind of money: expert witnesses, contracted training opportunities, highly qualified expert positions who have strong ties to victim advocates and their organizations. 
     
    And, it’s funny how these advocates or organizations scream “victim blamer” when somebody comes up with a campaign for a buddy system, develops a nail polish to detect date rape drugs, or advises woman not to drink themselves into oblivion as practical advice on how not to be victimized in the first place.  It’s almost like they don’t want women to take precautions.  Because a woman who exercises reason and accountability will less likely be a victim, and if women aren’t victims, then what are these people going to do for a living?
     
    So, this specialized class of victim began in 1994 by Joe Biden and a President whose wife stated that attitudes need to change through institutional change, which has ultimately flowed into the military which has a huge budget and has been used in the past positively to effect social change.  And, now we have cases like US v. Airman Brandon Wright.
     
    One day, maybe a falsely accused Soldier’s rights as a victim of a false allegation who has been flagged, prosecuted, confined for no reason, etc., will be a novel enough concept to spark a movement for social change.  But, it’s going to take money.  Maybe somebody will start a Men’s group called Protect Our Wrongly Accused Defenders or Defend Our Not Guilty Soldiers.
     

  35. stewie says:

    That’s a pretty unserious take kf. You chafe at me using the word hyperbole, but when you lump something like the Violence Against Women Act or military safelines or setting up shelters etc with whatever the worst excesses of the sex assault fight are, as if they are all one and the same and all belong together, what other word am I supposed to use to describe that argument?
     
    The VAWA is no more responsible for Dr. Valliere’s extreme takes than the liberalization of Europe in the 1800s is responsible for Stalin’s excesses (unless you make a series of leaps from liberalization leading to Marz leading to communism leading to Lenin leading to Stalin leading to his purges).
     
    And yes, women are primarily the victims of domestic violence and way back in 1994 and before we had a pretty crappy attitude/approach towards it. It’s a lot better than it was. Just like 2007 laws were a lot better than 1970s laws that still allowed a she’s a slut defenses or required the victim to be chaste and pure.  The problem isn’t those changes, the problem is the overcorrection and the continued changes well past any eqiulibrium point that have come in the last few years.
     
    Reaching all the way back to 1994 isn’t even tenuous, it’s non-serious.

  36. Iuris Consulti says:

    k fischer:

    Maybe somebody will start a Men’s group called Protect Our Wrongly Accused Defenders or Defend Our Not Guilty Soldiers.

    I nominate you to be the President of D.O.N.G.S.

  37. stewie says:

    Better to be President than Treasurer.

  38. Tami a/k/a Princess Leia says:

    There are male advocacy groups out there.  For example, A Voice for Men, also Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE) on Facebook.  The second one is truly a fantastic (and fascinating) resource for those representing the falsely accused, a lot of valuable information related to the “epidemic” of college campus sexual assault.  A Voice for Men has a database of lawsuits men have filed against colleges (and alleged victims) for gender discrimination, slander, etc.
     
    Perhaps someone should reach out to them to start a military-specific advocacy group.

  39. k fischer says:

    Stewie,
    Seamus wanted to know why we are treating one group of crime victims under the UCMJ as special.  Since the vast majority sexual assault courts-martial in the Army involve female victims, the Army is an institution much like what Mrs. Clinton was referring to in regards to effecting a change of attitude, and Congress passed the Violence Against WOMEN Act that Biden introduced in 1990 and didn’t pass until 1994, I just gave him a brief history on the reason of how I think we got to where we are today.
     
    Do you think that a law passed with good intentions on the surface created a $6 billion victim industry that needs more victims to survive?   I can see it. Have you ever wondered why the military has fallen for the tactics of generalizing the acts that constitute sexual violence to the point where an unwanted look because a sexual assault?
     
    If you think that “the problem is the overcorrection and the continued changes well past any equilibrium point,” then what is your position on how that overcorrection came about?  Because I am being serious.  The issues that we are facing, I think, is because there is a lot of money being thrown at a solution in search of a problem.  It all started with the VAWA.
     
    As a side note, I don’t think that Valliere was all that extreme at the court-martial where I turned her into a defense witness.  I actually found her quite pleasant, and I am really glad the SVP got the Government to pay her $8k to testify without knowing any of the facts of the case.  In addition to their “victim,”  I found her to be one of my best witnesses.

  40. stewie says:

    I find it unlikely that a civilian law passed in 1994 was the impetus or cause of changes made to the UCMJ from 2007 on, yes.
     
    How did the overcorrection come about? Someone around 05/06 decided to look at sex assault in the military. There were probably a few small legit changes that could be made, but in the midst of that, folks got the opportunity to dig in and create their “ideal” system. We didn’t help with tone-deaf statistics gathering and our falling over ourselves to portray ourselves in a certain light (essentially beating ourselves with reeds in hopes that doing so would stop others from doing worse).
     
    It was like most legislation, a perfect storm of events that led to what we have now. Not much different then how things ballooned with gay marriage (which I favor) but certainly how you got from Bush running successfully on DOMA laws at the state level in 2004 and basically winning the Presidential election based on that, to what has happened just 10 years later…how’d that sea change happen??
     
    It just did.
     
    So there was no problem with how we dealth with rape in this country in 1994? You really believe that??

  41. Concerned Defender says:

    I find myself once again agreeing with K Fischer and disagreeing with Stewie.   The problem is that the over-correction now tends to send a lot of innocent people to prison or otherwise ruining careers for among the worst criminal allegations a person could have and a lifetime stigma Scarlett letter.
    Nobody is condoning rape, so let’s be clear.  The issue is the gray area of acquaintance “rape” or allegations of “assault” where there is really nothing we’d call reliable “evidence.”   It also has successfully created a burden shift.  Bank robbers, tax cheats, and drunk drivers don’t share the same burden shift.  But since it’s all a credibility test, the accused MUST testify.  Oh, and let’s not forget that all of the behavior (even prior behavior) of the accused is fair game, but none of the behavior of the “victim” is fair game.  Hmmm…. seems like a stacked deck. 
    The over-correction underwrites bad decision making by the “victim” and fails miserably at a fair balancing test (yep, she wore trashy clothes, and got hammered at the frat party and made out with every guy in the room… but she never wanted sex – oookkkaaayyyy;  but the accused mentioned he likes women 5 years earlier so he must be a predator) and creates worse problems than it solves, and opens a zillion doors of mis-using allegations to ruin a personal, work, or political enemy.  Since this is a credibility test, there should be total open credibility test of the accuser as well as the accused.  Otherwise it’s not fair.  If the accused is a trashy whore, and does this often, then her habit and reputation evidence should be admissible.  Evidence of motives should also be admissible.  There should also be a time limit test on reporting.  If my car is stolen, I can’t report it 5 years later and expect someone to believe me.  Same with rape.  We’ve all seen the “rape” allegations that occur days, weeks, and years after the event; when it’s opportune for the “victim” to now complain.  Generally it’s during a divorce or other opportune time to make the allegations. 
    Was there really this rash of rapes going unsolved or un-prosecuted?  I doubt it.  More political theater, and a terrible over-correction of a non-problem.   And what it really does boil down to is people (men and women) making smarter decisions to not put themselves in vulnerable positions and have some sense of accountability for their own bad decisions.  Oh, but that’s not politically correct.  But leave your keys in your Ferrari in downtown Detroit and claim 5 months later it was stolen, and your insurance company will laugh at you and hang up. 
    Let’s do an experiment Stewie.  Post your name, work location, etc. online, and we’ll fire off some concocted allegations against you and let’s see how enjoyable of an experience that is allowing you to prove your innocence.  Put yourself through the meatgrinder and we’ll see how fast you change your position. 

  42. Mike says:

    Some great points to ponder in these posts.  But what happened to being intellectually honest, demonstrating integrity, and some backbone? Almost every JA that I have spoken to on both sides of the aisle agrees that most of these cases that go to trial are complete fabrications – but yet they go to trial. Make the commanders read the witness interviews.  Make them watch the victim and accused interviews (if there are any recorded).  Demand that CID pursue all leads including exculpatory evidence.  If they don’t speak to obvious witnesses, then don’t give an opine until they do. If you have CID purposely avoiding exculpatory evidence – something EVERYONE knows they do – they how does a commander know whether the case has any merits.  Most of the exculpatory evidence is discovered well after charges are preferred but it isn’t like TDS has a secret oracle that reveals fact witnesses.  It seems that commanders want the authority of implementing the UCMJ but don’t want to take the time and effort to properly do the job.  My experience has been that a good percentage of commanders WANT to do the right thing but they aren’t given all the facts or given a proper briefing to understand what they are charging and sending to trial.
     
    To me, as much of these current problems rests on spineless commanders as it does on lazy, spineless, careless, or inept JAs.   I believe we are way past time to take the decision making process away from the commanders for felony cases.  Commanders are good at planning, training, and fighting wars (well they are supposed to be).  No where in there do they receive sufficient legal training to make informed decisions.  Add in the politics and the fact that they risk backlash and not being promoted if they don’t send a case to trial vs. absolutely no risk if they send every case (a la US v. Wright) to trial.  No one involved in the Sinclair case believed any of the sexual assault charges had ANY merit let alone sufficient evidence to at least start a CM. Some intelligent journalist (I believe there are some left) is going to look closely at the data and see that the vast majority of 120 charges are being lost and the only “successful” prosecution is for the piddly charges that accompany the 120 charges such as adultery, violating a no contact order, or some BS conduct unbecoming.  These throwaway charges are a great way to get the accused on something – anything – and being able to plus the conviction rates. 
    The JAG Corps needs to do some soul searching.  Why JA leaders stood by while the media and Congress hijacked all messaging about sexual assault is beside me.  The DOD has prosecuted many, many cases which District Attorneys wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole but the victim industry, the media and Congress painted DOD as covering up or ignoring sexual assault cases. 
     
    Funny how society, the media and everyone else does so much veteran and service member worshiping and talks about how everyone is so noble and bold and respectable – Military Officer consistently rated above almost every leader in society such as politicians, CEOs, teachers etc…. But yet when it comes to sexual assault, it is a good old boys club that victimizes victims, covers for rapists, and doesn’t prosecute cases.
    A sad state of affairs that is simply going to get much much worse with gender integration.  I would be scared sh!#less to be in a fighting position on a field exercise with just me and a female. The potential for false allegations that would ruin my life would be unbelievable.

  43. k fischer says:

    Bush won in 04 bc of his position on DOMA?  Seriously, you actually think that?
     
    So, Dont ask don’t tell began in 93,  the military allowed gays to serve openly, (institutional change) in 2011, conservative people of faith were branded bigots and terrorists, then the Supreme Court overruled DOMA in 2013.  Just like Hillary said back in 1987.  That’s what happened.  It didn’t just happen.  There were a lot of forces moving to make it happen.
     
    And, compared to what we have now, I would prefer the 1994 system.  I’m sure there are some SVPs who are struggling or have struggled with prosecuting a person they do not believe is guilty BARD.Just give it some time.  The tide will change.

  44. stewie says:

    Ummm, yes kf that’s one of the major reasons why he won.  Rove got anti-gay marriage initiatives on multiple state ballots for that election which drove up conservative/religious turnout in key states:
     
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/04/politics/campaign/samesex-marriage-issue-key-to-some-gop-races.html
    “In Ohio, for instance, political analysts credit the ballot measure with increasing turnout in Republican bastions in the south and west, while also pushing swing voters in the Appalachian region of the southeast toward Mr. Bush. The president’s extra-strong showing in those areas compensated for an extraordinarily large Democratic turnout in Cleveland and in Columbus, propelling him to a 136,000-vote victory.
    “I’d be naïve if I didn’t say it helped,” said Robert T. Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. “And it helped most in what we refer to as the Bible Belt area of southeastern and southwestern Ohio, where we had the largest percentage increase in support for the president.”
     
    I wouldn’t prefer the 94 system because I don’t want alleged victims to be treated unfairly anymore than I want accused to be…I don’t want severe pendulum swings either way. I would prefer how things stood in 2006, where the excesses of both sides were curbed. I might agree with having SVPs simply because I think that removes the “acquittal by prosecutorial incompetence” angle at least a little bit.  Other than that, 2006 was much preferable to either now or 1994.

  45. stewie says:

    “Let’s do an experiment Stewie.  Post your name, work location, etc. online, and we’ll fire off some concocted allegations against you and let’s see how enjoyable of an experience that is allowing you to prove your innocence.  Put yourself through the meatgrinder and we’ll see how fast you change your position.”
     
    Which positions do you think I would change exactly? I wouldn’t change the basic parameters of 412. I wouldn’t change taking allegations of sex assault seriously. I wouldn’t change my stance that the changes since 2007 have been bad for justice and the system.  So what position do you think I would change exactly? It’s hard to take much of what you say seriously…but I’m ever optimistic that the next post will be the one I do.

  46. Nicholas says:

    This INNOCENT young man had his life on hold and didn’t know for over 3 years whether or not his life was going to be ruined.  The acquittal is a start, but doesn’t come close to making Airman Wright full.  Lt Gen Franklin stood up when others in authority wouldn’t.  Senior leadership in the Air Force and DoD really ought to be ashamed.  All the “yes-men” Generals looking out for only themselves and who allowed this case to go to trial ought to be ashamed.  The most senior civilian leadership in the Air Force really ought to be ashamed.  They are not… and every hetro-sexual male that gets so obviously wrongly accused of sexual assault will be drug through the mud and determined guilty until proving themselves innocent.  Good for the jury members for standing up for what is right.  I hope they have savings, a backup career plan and resume writing skills.  They are marked men and women.

  47. J.T. Brigance, Esq. says:

    “But an acquittal on criminal charges does not prove that the defendant is innocent; it merely proves the existence of a reasonable doubt as to his guilt.” United States v. One Assortment of 89 Firearms, 465 U.S. 354, 361 (U.S. 1984). Also, had there been a conviction: “For factual sufficiency, the test is whether, after weighing the evidence in the record of trial and making allowances for not having personally observed the witnesses, the members of the Court of Military Review are themselves convinced of the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” United States v. Turner, 25 M.J. 324, 325 (C.M.A. 1987).
    To me, it’s incredible that so many here have already settled in their minds what happened based on the result of the trial. Did anyone attend any session involving the presentation of evidence? Review either of the IO Reports, which would — at best — provide rough outlines of what the testimony and admissible evidence would actually include at trial in October 2015? Or, how about at least listen to closing arguments (that are not evidence, of course, but are offered by individuals who actually reviewed it)?
    You can broadly criticize Mr. Guilds and his takeaways based on your already-settled worldview (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ryan-guilds/air-force-sexual-assault_b_8431854.html?1446214999), but at least he was there. If the collective here can celebrate every appellate decision setting aside a guilty verdict for factual sufficiency, it should be adult enough to recognize an acquittal in a sexual assault case does not mean the alleged victim lied.

  48. K fischer says:

    Jake,
     
    Perhaps, if you were there, you could enlighten us as to the strongest evidence that existed to prove Wright’s guilt.  Because what I gleaned from the news is that an engaged woman invited two junior Airmen to her house to watch, movies, drinking, and snuggle and flirt with one of them under a blanket whereafter she and the snugglee went back to her bedroom where she was on top of the snugglee who engaged in sexual intercourse with her while she was on top and the other Airman testified to hearing moans of pleasure coming from the other room.  All of those pieces of evidence points to consensual intercourse.  I am missing the parts that prove he is guilty of rape. 
     
    I wish the collection of those involved with this prosecution could be adult enough to recognize that the first Article 32 IO’s recommendation, the dismissal, the UCI it took to revive this case that should have remained dead, and the ultimate acquittal strongly suggests that Wright was not guilty, and was actually falsely accused, rather than criticize the panel for its decision.

  49. Dew_Process says:

    @ JTB, Esq:  Are you really serious?  Have you ever actually defended one of these cases?  If so, you would know that Mr. Guilds’ [a POD’er] opinion that courts-martial in sex cases are “defendant” friendly, has no connection with reality.
     

    Ryan Guilds, a civilian lawyer and the woman’s independent counsel, said that in his view, prosecutors had proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt and that any inconsistencies in her statements over the years were inconsequential and the result of “normal problems of memory.”
    Guilds said that questions asked by the jury members during trial — a unique aspect of U.S. military law — showed a regressive military “mind-set” about sexual assault.
    http://www.stripes.com/news/lengthy-sexual-assault-case-ends-in-acquittal-1.375792
     

    I wasn’t there and don’t pretend to have been, but I do know that the complainant claimed to have been “raped” and Wright was accused of that offense, which (along with the other charges) was dismissed by then LtGen Franklin.  It was “revived” in the “Mulligan” process but strangely – and a fact you (and Mr. Guilds) ignore – prior to the recently completed court-martial, “The rape charge was dismissed.” Id.
     
    So, no one apparently believed her “rape” allegation in the first place, and obviously, a mixed panel of officers and Enlisted – who btw did hear the “evidence” and closing arguments – still, at a minimum, found “reasonable doubt” and returned a Not Guilty verdict.
     
    Mr. Guilds expertise (which appears considerable) does not appear to be in the realm of defending (or even prosecuting) courts-martial, per his BIO.  And in case any of CAAFlog’s readers have forgotten, he also “represented” the complainant in the now infamous Naval Academy “rape” case against 3 Midshipmen football players, as reported HERE.

  50. Commentator says:

    K fisher, not a single witness in this case ever said that the victim was raped while she was on top. Get the facts straight before you publish false statements about the victim. The news articles didn’t go into detail about how the Accused “pulled her down on top of him and proceeded to rape her.” You of all people should probably know that the media doesn’t always report all the facts and all the facts correctly, so please start acting like a lawyer and start being responsible and getting the actual facts before you publish false statements about a person or case.

  51. Ed says:

    Commentator I believe I have rad every published article about the Wright Case. Given the secrecy of military proceedings(ie are all pleadings  and motions immediately available to the public) assuming what you are saying is true a  mistake is easily possible. if you have concrete information that Mr. Fisher is incorrect state it with specificity. Who were  the specific witnesses? What did they say? After all it was supposed to be a public trial. otherwise Otherwise what you say is useless.

  52. Phil Cave says:

    An argument is made that if we were not there to see and hear the whole case we have no right to comment or even hold an opinion on the case.  There is truth to the idea that any opinion is limited to what we know or think we know.  There is an easy fix.
     
    1.  As we have argued time and again, and as Ed reminds us, there is no transparency similar to that of federal and now many state courts for reasonable and fairly immediate access to court-martial pleadings and such.  Hello PACER, errant as you are you are better than the military.  Some of this is being argued and discussed in the Bergdahl writ litigation.  So that’s an easy fix.
     
    2. If I recollect the AF had no trouble and took very little time to create a Wilkerson FOIA page.  There they dumped a lot of stuff.  As a result, the discerning reader could gain a lot of insight about what really happened.  You’ll remember (Kyle will remind us) the Ciaco litigation and the availability of the trial testimony of one of the complainant’s in that case.  There’s an easy fix.
     
    3.  AF should create a Wright FOIA page.  On that page should go all the motions from the beginning along with the 32 investigations and reports.  And, they can edit and put up the audio of the trial testimony to listen to.  As noted, the AF had no trouble blasting the Wilkerson business, why trouble now.  There is a similar significant public interest about the fairness of a particular military trial, and likely the whole system in general to warrant a public release.

    start being responsible and getting the actual facts before you publish false statements about a person or case.

    Commentator, can we count on your vote and advocacy to get the AF to put up a Wright FOIA page so we can have access to “the actual facts.”  If so, please write to the AF and Congress about this lack of transparency and how it is hurting victims.  That might be the tack to take.  I agree with you that it’s hard to make good judgments based on news reporting, so help us get all of the actual facts.
     
    4. And finally, I recommend going back to the basics and pull out a copy of the hearings on the UCMJ.  They are readily available, much being on the internet.  From there you can get a true understanding of why the UCMJ developed as it has.  I am satisfied that concerns about the fairness of military “justice” are as equally important to day in sexual assault cases as they were in the post-WWII period that lead to the calls for a fair system.

  53. stewie says:

    A Pacer-like system would be great, and I’m all for it, but you’d need double the paralegals you have now, or at least half again as more PLUS serious tech upgrades across the board. 

  54. DCGoneGalt says:

    http://www.stripes.com/hearing-begins-for-airman-whose-case-was-removed-from-franklin-1.262007
     
    From the Art 32:  “After another airman present passed out or fell asleep, she said Wright pulled her on top of him and began forcibly kissing her. She argued with him to stop, she said, “to make him see what he was doing and how much I didn’t want it.””
     
     
    Seriously, someone FOIA this and put it online so that only the lazy and the Church of the POD-People will continue to believe this was anything other than a politically motivated show trial.

  55. thewritesofweiss says:

    Phil Cave, great idea. Ed, JT, and all who support survivors, such as the one from the Airman Wright case.  How about getting DoD to put up the transcript of every acquittal on a FOIA site (you can link to it on POD) and then people in America will fully understand the military sexual assault epidemic and how guilty rapists are getting over and survivors are getting trampled on. They can redact all the PII.  We can even use some of the hundreds of millions of dollars that Kyle Fischer described is out there to stage verbatim re-enactments of these trials. You could probably hire Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University mattress girl to play the part of the survivor in all of these cases.  The play could travel from city to city to show America (and put it all on youtube) how unjust the military justice system is towards survivors and how rigged it is to favor defendants.  I think POD could use this as a fundraiser. So, Ed, JT, and the rest of you out there who care about guilty scumbag rapists getting over–rather than writing articles on the Huffington Post, let’s just get the verbatim transcripts from all of these trials and re-enact them? It can be like the 30 hour long North Korean movies that Kim Jong Il made.  Except when these ones conclude, no one will get sent to re-education camps.

  56. k fischer says:

     
    Commentator,
     
    I believed I qualified the facts with the statement “from what I gleaned from the news.”  So, perhaps you should focus your fires on the Air Force Times and the Stars and Stripes reporters who you say are getting the facts wrong and painting TS AR in the worst possible light.  Seems like the only person who testified who possibly could have witnessed the event was the complaining witness.  So, was the testimony from the CW that he pulled her on top of him, then flipped her over and began to rape her?  If that’s the case, then I agree with you that these reports are horrible and they should immediately print a correction.  And, when they do, I will change my opinion if I glean something different from their correction. 
     
    Or perhaps you could save us a whole lot of time and enlighten us, since it appears that you are knowledgeable about all the testimony in each hearing.  What was her testimony at the 1st 32, the 2nd 32, and at the court-martial?  Was it all consistent?  Be careful because if you cherry pick your facts, then you could be publishing something to slander poor Airman Wright.  But, you don’t care, do you, because you’re anonymous.

  57. Dew_Process says:

    @ Commentator:  The “news articles” probably didn’t discuss the “rape” allegation because that charge was (again) dropped by the government, so whether the woman was “on top” or whatever, it was no longer relevant.

  58. k fischer says:

    From the Art 32:  “After another airman present passed out or fell asleep, she said Wright pulled her on top of him and began forcibly kissing her. She argued with him to stop, she said, “to make him see what he was doing and how much I didn’t want it.””
     

    Commentator, kind of piggybacking of what Dew Process wrote, are you upset with the TC on this case who withdrew the Rape charge?  Because if TC AR was arguing with Wright to stop after he pulled her on top of him and began forcibly kissing her, then I’m not quite getting how a subsequent act of sexual intercourse wouldn’t be rape.  Doesn’t that seem odd to you that the rape was dropped at trial by the Government?  Perhaps Nancy Montgomery and Chris Carroll got that wrong, as well.  They only write on every high profile sexual assault case and do a pretty decent job at it, in my opinion, but I guess nobody’s perfect.

  59. DCGoneGalt says:

    Great job > Good job > Average job > Decent job > Copying and pasting public affairs releases

  60. Concerned Defender says:

    Reminds me of a case where the government charged my client with rape in spite of the “victim” voluntarily going to his home, voluntarily drinking with him, witnesses saw them making out on the couch, she voluntarily went up to his bedroom, she undressed herself, she had sex with him on top of him, she gave him oral when he was having a hard time staying erect, and she had the presence of mind to say no to anal sex which he did not perform. Her moans of pleasure were so loud others at the house could hear her over the television.  She didn’t report it the next morning or for a long time afterward, and only reported it later because she was embarrassed by HER own behavior – this is all according to HER statement under oath to CID.
     
     

  61. Charlie Gittins says:

    CD:  Check out US v. Bright.  Rape convictions x 3 thrown out on legal insufficiency grounds; much the same facts as you had.  I did three CAAF Outreach oral arguments and I won each of those cases.     

  62. The Silver Fox says:
  63. thewritesofweiss says:

    Silver fox, you’re right. We need to convict anyone accused despite the evidence so things like this story don’t happen. 

  64. The Silver Fox says:

    That wasn’t my point, ya kumquat.  Maybe someone else can explain it to you, like the guy from A Time to Kill who commented above.

  65. thewritesofweiss says:

    I’m sorry.  See, sir, I is just an ignant passed over Major who uses his real last name when he writes on caaflog, not a fearless specimen like da silver fox. So, youe highness,  I’m so sorry I misunderstood you. You can go back to the important work you were doing before I wasted your time. 

  66. Zachary D Spilman says:

    Comments on this post are now closed.