Top Ten Military Justice Stories of 2013 – #6: The Marine Corps Corpse Desecration Cases and Alleged UCI by the Commandant
The cases that are better known for how the bodies of insurgents in Afghanistan were desecrated, by urinating on them, marks return to our top ten for the area of battlefield military justice. In 2011 the Fifth Stryker Brigade cases came in at #3 and in 2010 the debate over military justice in a combat environment topped our list. Last year’s top ten had nary a single entrant from America’s overseas conflicts. But thanks to a Marine Corps sniper platoon and a helmet mounted camera the subject returns.
But this version of battlefield justice has the added bonus of a soap opera and intrigue after preferral and within the judge advocate community–which made it perfect fodder for us. Not only did we have several cases prosecuting Marines for the incident, here and here, but allegations of UCI by the Commandant of the Marine Corps surfaced . . . and that’s when all the fun began. There were allegations that General Amos exerted unlawful command influence over the convening authorities; charges were dismissed against a Marine Corps judge advocate for his role; and another Marine Corps judge advocate (Maj. Weirick) filed an IG complaint, and here, to reveal additional alleged misconduct at HQMC . . . and then the fun began. Maj. Weirick’s supervisors then allegedly retaliated against him when he sent an email to one of the lawyers involved in the alleged misconduct to “encourage” him to come forward. The case continues to generate bad publicity for the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps legal community, here, and will probably continue to be into 2014.
Between the high visibility military justice cases and the high profile involvement of uniformed judge advocates, this was a no brainer for our Top 10. While the rest of the list is not surprising, it is hard to argue with the Top 5.