Here’s a link to a Washington Times story about a military judge’s ruling in an Air Force general court-martial, dismissing sexual assault charges with prejudice because the convening authority (a 2-star) “directed the trial counsel not to enforce their subpoenas, [resulting in] the government abdicat[ing] its obligations to the justice system.” The military judge’s 13-page ruling is available here. Reportedly, the prosecution will not appeal the ruling.

Additionally, here’s a link to a story about the arrest of Coast Guard Seaman Ethan Tucker for the murder a fellow Coast Guardsman in Alaska.

In other news, the Solicitor General filed a reply brief in support of the Government’s petition for certiorari in Briggs. The brief is available here.

Finally, CAAF’s 2019 orientation for new attorneys (an annual event) will be on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. Additional details available here.

11 Responses to “Military Justice News for August 30, 2019”

  1. Kafka, Esq. says:

    Kudos to Judge Cohen. Let’s hope he similarly holds the government’s collective feet to the fire down at Gitmo. 
    Also, unless there’s a lot more to the story, either the GCMCA or the NAF SJA should be looking for a new job if the general truly believed that “[s]eizing this evidence without the victims’ consent would have been inconsistent” with the policy of “honor[ing] the wishes of a victim regarding participation or non-participation in a prosecution.” Maybe we can just have victims serve as GCMCAs and NAF SJAs going forward.

  2. J.M. says:

    Sounds like the major general is in violation of articles 32, 38, 133 and 134.

  3. Vulture says:

    SHARP is conducted very differently in the Taliban, I’m sure.  And since most people here agree that the Commissions are a real goat screw, it very well may be over in a couple of weeks.

  4. slyjackalope says:

    What a mess!  As cooperative as trial counsel appear to be in light of the convening authority being uncooperative, this looks like a case that no one wanted after referral but the convening authority couldn’t get rid of otherwise.  With no allegations of misconduct against the convening authority in this opinion, my guess is this a case that deserved to leave skid marks on the bowl but Congress took authority away to do the right thing.

  5. Fisch says:

    Can you cite the statute where Congress took the authority away from Commanders to do the right thing by dismissing a bs case after a referral?
    Either the GCMCA was acting in contravention of his SJA’s advice or in accordance with his SJA’s advice.  Yet, we don’t know.  This is why I believe that the UCMJ should be run by the lawyers, so we know exactly who to blame.  Because the way it is now, you have a Judge who appears to believe that a Convening authority is acting rogue, completely against his SJA’s advice, when could it be possible that his lawyers are advising him to do exactly what he did and the trial attorneys are just putting their arms in the air and saying, “Well, we can’t do anything because its in the Convening Authority’s hands.”
    I think the parties in this case should be investigated to find out exactly what happened.  If it were an Army case, then a 15-6 to investigate a violation of Article 98 might be appropriate.  Whether it was the GCMCA or the SJA, this is Nifongian and should not be permitted to happen in the military.

  6. AFDCAO says:

    I have generally defended the MJ system in public and in this anonymous forum but this is disgusting.  I was sickened as I read the order from Judge Cohen at the lack of courage displayed by these officers.  Anyone who contributed to this charade should be ashamed, General Whiting most of all (and anyone who advised him to act this way). Your duty is to the Constitution, not to the victim lobby or Congress.  And Mr. Christensen, could you be any more obtuse! What a hot steaming pile of crap.  Those contributing to this farce allowed the force of the military to become a tool of three bitter individuals. 

  7. weimeriner31 says:

    One story which is not listed is that President Trump continues to make comments about the Bergdahl court-martial.  He specifically stated to Brian Kilmeade, “Well the whole Bowe Bergdahl thing was a disgrace. He left. We may have lost as many as six people going out and looking for him. He deserted, as far as I was concerned, and then they got some judge in the military that gave him, I guess, the softest sentence anybody can even think about and it’s a disgrace what’s going on.”
    I am not writing to agree or disagree with his assessment of Bergdahl.  However, while Bergdahl’s appeal is before CAAF (and they have yet to decide whether to grant it review), it seems rash to even bring it up now.  The President’s comments practically invite a CAAF review of whether unlawful command influence may be committed by a president and if so, what is the remedy.
    As making comments about Mr Christensen being obtuse – he wasn’t even quoted in the Washington Times article.  Even though I agree that Col Cohen made a good ruling that showed fidelity to the law, there isn’t any evidence whatsoever that Christensen had a role in this court-martial.  And, the accused in the court-martial did not have a sterling record, contrary to the Times.  What Cohen was faced with was (1) a convening authority bereft of logic and acumen (and likely poorly advised by his SJA); (2) prosecutors who should have to read of their duty to do justice — over and over again at an elementary level; and (3) one or more alleged victims who engaged in conduct designed to undermine the accused’s right to a fair trial.  Lets avoid the mud-slinging on Christensen

  8. Ed says:

    Prosecutions of serious offenses are for the benefit of society not the personal feelings of individuals. General Whiting’s actions make a mockery of that principle. If TSGT Snyder is guilty of what he is charged with the Government has an obligation to do everything possible to prosecute  him. The government also has an obligation  to follow discovery rules. Abandoning that obligation to please accusers is harmful to the proper administration of justice. The cowardice of many involved is a blemish to military justice. As to Mr. Christensen while he has favored many actions to denigrate the rights of accused  he has nothing to do with this particular instance. 

  9. AFDCAO says:

    See Christensen’s comments in the Task and Purpose article here:

    It would have been better for Cohen to dismiss the charges without prejudice, which would have allowed the case to move forward “in the event that the government got their act together,” said Christensen, president of the advocacy group Protect Our Defenders.
    “I agree that …if there was evidence out there, that it be properly subpoenaed,” Christensen said. “But when the convening authority refuses to do that, you don’t make the victims pay the price. As a judge, you figure out a better way to do that.”

    I stand by my comment. 

  10. Sam Horn says:

    The comments in the Washington Times article from one of the victims, CP, led me to her blog. There seems to be a disconnect from what she claims (or thought) was going on with her case and what the judge’s ruling indicates. 

  11. J.M. says:

    If by disconnect you mean that the blog seems disconnected from the facts found by the judge, and made many statements that seem disconnected from reality in general, I agree. 
    Maybe CP shouldn’t have destroyed evidence after being asked to preserve it. And I hope that Tech SGT Synder’s attorney has a nice long consult with Col Riggins attorney.