Every media outlet’s military justice coverage is focused on the announcement of the verdict in the PFC Bradley Manning court-martial. Judge Lind announced yesterday that her decision will be made today.  Coverage from various folks here (CNN), here (AP via WaPo), and here (NBC News).

But another case more than three years in the making gets under way soon as well. The MAJ Nidal Hasan court-martial at Ft. Hood begins Aug. 6, 2013 reports the Dallas Morning News in this what to expect from the trial preview.

30 Responses to “Military Justice News for Tuesday, July 30, 2013”

  1. John says:

    I predict a guilty verdict.  Is Manning out of his mind!  Who is right mind would choose to have his case decided by judge over jury.  Totally crazy.

  2. ContractLawyer says:

    Yeah, let me go out on a limb – Guilty!  There may be NG on some specs, but the majority will likely be guilty as common with most MJs, though I understand there are a few MJs where it was rumored would it would be ineffective to recommend to not go MJ alone. 
    The biggest reason to go MJ alone is sentencing.  The defense perceives that a or this MJ would be more lenient on sentencing.  This is offset in cases where the odds of acquittal are higher, such as cases involving rape or child molestation.  Any cases with a child victim is not good for an accused in front of a panel.  For rape cases, I have actually seen a diversity of verdict and sentences with panels, to include a range from one to ten  years.  A pretrial agreement for rape does not typically give less than five years, but without a PTA the client sits there with full exposure to life in prison.  On the other hand, there is also the possibility of full acquittal. 
     For Manning, he knew it would be a guilty verdict, so he is attempting to get a lighter sentence.  This may involve a finding of NG for some of the charges, but his initial guilty plea ensures he is not walking out free, so Manning probably took the best choice for sentencing.  I believe the MJ will be fair, though I am not sure what this will be for this case.  A fair sentence from the judge is probably more favorable than Manning would get from a panel. 

  3. Bill Cassara says:

    I know Judge Lind well, and she is not exactly the most defense friendly judge on the bench.  That being said, I suspect the reason for JA is that with a panel you would almost get “reverse jury nullification.”   I think a MJ looks dispassionately at all of the evidence. Not sure a panel does.  He is not a sympathetic accused, so I can see a panel hammering him no matter what the evidence shows.

  4. Lieber says:

    The gravamen of this case is the aiding the enemy charge.  Manning naked pled some of the others and he will be convicted on most and acquitted on a couple (that the prosecution was unable to prove up).  Going for Judge alone on the aiding the enemy charge over a panel was an absolute no brainer.  Any other defense decision would have been IAC IMHO. 

  5. John says:

    Manning made a big mistake going with Judge Denise Lind.  Now he is really going to pay for it.  Manning should have been aware of Ltcol. Terry Lakin who was tried in a kangaroo court under Judge Denise Lind.  Judge Lind denied Terry Lakin of his constitutional and due process and left Terry Lakin with no defense.  In fact, Terry Lakin was not allowed to defend himself as his own court martial.  If Manning had known about the corrupt actions of Judge Denise Lind, he would have went with jury panel instead.

  6. Cheap Seats says:

    The Birthers are back!  Oh, how we missed them…

  7. ARMYTC says:

    Here we go again with this BS…
    COL Lind is bar none, one the best judges in the Army. I’ve practiced in front of her multiple times and she runs the court very effectively. I don’t see her as “defense friendly” or “government friendly” she is law friendly. She holds both sides to standard and doesn’t allow shenanigans in court. I do percieve her to be a hammer when it comes to sentencing (I once had a plea in a SA case where I asked for 3 years and she came back with 5).
    I think the big question will be what she does with the aiding the enemy charge. We’ll know soon enough.

  8. ContractLawyer says:

    Terry Lakin got the shaft. The system was out to get him. I believe it was harsh that he got a dismissal and the amount of confinement. I expected the panel there to be more understanding.  Instead, he got the officer’s duck dinner and the privilege to be a guest of the President for six months.  I would have thought one or the other.  Despite this, Lakin and Manning are different cases.  Despite the error in judgment, Lakin did his time, got dismissed, and is focusing on a medical practice.  Lakin was a publicity stunt where he suffered for the publicity he garnered.  Manning on the other hand has garnered much publicity, but he will be going way for a long time for his specific actions.  These two cases are nothing alike.  Lakin is a patriot and Manning is a traitor.  Just my personal opinion.
    As for the issue of the MJ, as I stated before I believe she will be fair and that is the reason Manning selected MJ alone.  “Fair” for this case though may mean many years.  I eagerly await the verdict, but we will still not know the sentence until after the sentencing hearing.  Whatever the result, it is probably better than a panel, but we will never know what the panel would have done.  I trust whatever the MJ does here and it will be fine.  The system is in good hands. 

  9. Phil Cave says:

    This was a MJA case regardless of who the judge is.
    As it happens I agree with Bill Cassara.  Known her going back to her time with the JSC.  Not overly defense friendly.  But she’s not one to put her thumb on the scales, and in a case like this much more likely to apply the law and facts more reasonably than members.
    I wouldn’t see members getting the niceties of the method by which the enemy got the info.  It might be that a lack of intent to give directly and receipt as a collateral unintended consequence might work to “rebut” BRD.  Who knows.  On the other side, is it enough that Manning knew or should have known that WL would release in toto and that the almost certain gathering of the info by bad guys was a natural and probable consequence, etc., etc., etc.

  10. soonergrunt says:

    Terry Lakin might have been many things, but a Patriot?  No.  He abandoned the men of his assigned unit who needed good medical care on the battlefield.  Through his willful disobedience of his chain of command, he caused his duties to devolve upon another officer.  There’s nothing remotely patriotic about that.
    I served in the area of Afghanistan where the 1-32 CAV was later assigned.  The term “meat grinder” was not an exaggeration.  That he only served six months before dismissal and forfeitures–he got off easy.  He should have served at least two days for every day that he wasn’t downrange doing the job his commanders ordered him to do.  Had I been on the panel of a Commissioned Officer who refused the lawful orders he was given (he himself admitted to the Judge that his orders were lawful during the Care Inquiry) I would have sentenced him to 5 days for every day that he was not working as a surgeon saving the lives of American Soldiers in the combat zone.
    Personally, I think Manning ought to get about 20 years for what he did.

  11. anon says:

    I know I shouldn’t but . . .  “Lakin did his time, got dismissed, and is focusing on a medical practice.” If so, someone might want to tell the great state of Kansas because Mr. Lakin’s application for a medical license was denied. As an irrelevant aside, teacher friend of mine had a children’s author come to the school to speak to the kids.  After the author was selling his books to those interested to include “Officer’s Oath: Why my vow to defend the Constitution demanded that I sacrifice my career”.  I was then given the book as an extremely nice though misguided gesture which inadvertently raised my BP by 20.  Read at your own peril, its a mix of sugary-coated self-delusion and child-like (not in a good way) ignorance.

  12. soonergrunt says:

    People tweeting from the court room report that Judge Lind has found Manning NOT Guilty of the Aiding the Enemy spec.

  13. ContractLawyer says:

    Sooner – That is correct.  CNN has additional details, but the tweets were the first news. 
    The verdict shows that the judge was fair as I said she would be.  Persoally I was not hoping or wishing ill on Manning and if the MJ found that he was not guilty of that charge then we should also be confident that the system produced the just result. 

  14. Bill Cassara says:

    Sooner Grunt is correct.  NG on aiding the enemy. Looks like he made the right forum choice.

  15. Lieber says:

    as was likely.  you almost have to read a specific intent requirement into the article to keep it constitutional.
    I anticipate 10-15 years confinement

  16. Johnny says:

    I disagree Lieber.  He will get at least 20 years, if not 30.  The max sentence is somewhere near 130.  Even though the judge, quite rightly IMO, found him NG of aiding the enemy, the fact that Osama actually did possess the classified documents is extremely aggravating.  The sentencing case is not going to go well for him with aggravation evidence like that. 

  17. ContractLawyer says:

    Is LWOP on the table?    How about life?  I am not familiar with the max confinement of the listed charges, I hear the 130 number, but is life or LWOP in there? 
    As long as parole is on the table, Manning will see the light of day outside of prison before he is too old to rebuilt a bit of life, get married, be father, and redeem himself.  A term of 20 or 30 years will help his cause with anything less than 30 being a victory for him.  Mark this down – Every day less than 30 years is a good result for Manning in this case. 
    I am not up with the minimum time for parole these days, but it used to be one-third or ten years, whichever is shortest,  which meant the ten years applied for any case with 30 years of confinement or longer.  Please correct this if I am wrong.  With this factor, Manning wants to take his 3 years, any credit, and apply it toward a parole day.  I wonder if the MJ will consider this? 
    Manning will get a lot of time.  Confinement of 20, 30, or 40 years are all long terms, but unlike federal time, the military time allows early parole consider IAW AR 15-130, assuming the criteria in the reg are still valid.  Of course eligibility for parole does not guarantee approval for parole, but parole is considered on an annual basis. 

  18. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    There’s also good conduct time (unless there’s some reason why it wouldn’t be awarded here, but the only reason I know to deny GCT is a life sentence).  The DoD standard is 5 days per month, so assuming he’s well-behaved for the entire sentence, he could be released when about 5/6th of it is served, parole notwithstanding.

  19. Bill Cassara says:

    I see his supporters trumpeting today as a victory, but then backtracking tomorrow when he gets hit hard.  Contract Lawyer:  Parole Eligibility Date is 1/3 of the sentence, but saying he is eligible for parole is liking saying I can buy a lottery ticket. It won’t matter much.

  20. ARMYTC says:

    If I’m not mistaken (and I usually am) the max sentence is 142 years confinement, TF, Reduction to E-1 and a DD.

  21. ARMYTC says:

    CNN is reporting 136. Close enough. Academic, really.

  22. Lieber says:

    No one in the military system gets parole (IRL).  Manning has close to 3 months of Article 13 credit.  The sentencing case is anticipated to last another 4-6 weeks.  I would surprised if the Defense stipulates to most of the Government testimony the way it did on the merits.  Coombs has consistently made good choices.

  23. stewie says:

    I’m going to go low and say 10-15 years…even knowing Judge Lind is a great judge (but very hard in sentencing).  I say this because I think Judge Lind will also be hard on the government with a big G for the situation Manning found himself in while in the custody of the Marines…and because I suspect this is a case where one can at least arguably say he had some good intent in what he did from a certain perspective.

  24. Bill Cassara says:

    Lieber:  I am confused by your comment that nobody in the military justice system gets parole.  I have handled a number of parole cases, and I would say the success rate is probably the same as, if not higher than, in the civilian world. 

  25. Babu says:

    Agree with CL, anything less than 30 years is a defense win (or prosecution failure, depending on your perspective).

  26. Contract Lawyer says:

    I actually predict between 20 and 30 years.  I will not classify this as TC failure, not sure they could have done anything better except not bring that charge, which leaves the same end result.  I am on the side of wanting Manning to get hammered, but I have great respect for the system, especially when a MJ decides the case.  The defense did well to provide the possibility that Manning will get out of prison before he is old.  I do not see picking MJ as a risk that paid off, but rather the best option of the choices they had.  A panel may have just found guilty on everything and then maxed out on the sentence.  Manning did bad and he deserves the punishment he gets, but  the trial will probably give him a result that will him to have his freedom back much sooner than if he got a life sentence and there was that possibility of LWOP that a panel would have considered. 
    I doubt this comes back tomorrow, but we are all throwing out numbers like it is a lottery or contest to see who can come closest to the mark.  Does CAAFLOG we have a survey function or something that allows users to vote or select a number.  We could do this as a survey to get an average of our predictions and then see who was closest to the mark when the sentence is announced, of course with just the confinement as part of the contest.  Manning will surely get the duck dinner, E-1, and total forfeitures. 

  27. Nancy Truax says:

    It’s possible that the decision to go judge alone had little, if anything, to do with the potential sentence.  When I heard the defense was going judge alone, I assumed it was so they could request special findings in the event he was convicted of the contested charges — something they would not be able to do if his guilt was decided by a panel.  If I’m not mistaken, the defense did request special findings.

  28. Bridget Wilson says:

    Seems like Coombs has done a very good job for his client. It would have been v. risky to go before a panel in this case. I think Bill and Phil are correct. I would be surprised if it was less than 20-30 years. Could well be more.

  29. Cap'n Crunch says:

    I don’t see the judge going over 30.  Yes, the maximum is 136.  If I were a betting man, I’d bet 10.  The purposes of sentencing, in this case, is to send a message.  It isn’t to keep a violent offender from hurting other people.  He abused a position of trust and arguably impaired the national security, but a reasonable case was made that it was because he was young and ignorant, not malicious and treasonous.  Ten years in the brig sends an adequate message.  If he gets 15, that’d be on the high end of what I think he is reasonably facing on this.