Category Archives: Military Law

Haditha Update: LtCol Jeffrey Chessani Additional Charges

After having his Article 32 investigation reopened, two additional charges for dereliction of duty have been add against Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Chessani. LtCol Chessani was the battalion commander of the Marines involved in the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in Hadita, Iraq.

The Investigating Officer, Col Conlin, in LtCol Chessani’s case had originally recommended three charges for violations of Article 92 of the UCMJ, for dereliction of duty and violation of a lawful order.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jeffrey Chessani (right) with his lawyers

These additional charges are only recommendations at this point, the decision to send these charges to a court-martial rests with the Convening Authority, Lieutenant General J. N. Mattis, USMC.

According to his attorney, former Marine Judge Advocate Brian Rooney of the Thomas More Law Center, LtCol Chessani plans to sue Congressman John Murtha. See HotAir.

yojoe out

For more information: Haditha Investigations

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Abu Ghraib Court-Martial: LTCOL Jordan Guilty and Not Guilty

On 28AUG07, a court-martial found Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan, USA, not guilty of charges that he was responsible for the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail. LTCOL Jordan was found guilty of disobeying an order, UCMJ Article 92, not to talk about the investigation. This order was given by his commanding general.

LTCOL Jordan was acquitted of cruelty and maltreatment (subjecting detainees to forced nudity and intimidation by dogs); dereliction of duty by failing to properly train subordinates; and failure to obey a lawful general order by allowing the use of dogs during interrogations without the approval of higher authorities.Colonel Thomas Pappas, LTCOL Jordan’s superior officer, received areprimand and a fine of several thousand dollars for approving the useof dogs during interrogations.

LTCOL Jordan faces a maximum of 5 years confinement, total forfeitures, dismissal, and a dishonorable discharge. Sentencing should begin tomorrow.

yojoe out

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Haditha Update: Article 32 Investigation for Sgt Frank Wuterich

Marine Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich has maintained his innocence.

The Article 32 investigation for Sgt Frank Wuterich, USMC, is set to begin on 30AUG07 aboard Camp Pendleton. LtCol Ware will be the investigating officer. LtCol Ware was the investigating officer for LCpl Stephen B. Tatum and and LCpl Justin L. Sharratt, in both cases he recommended no charges.

Sgt Wuterich’s lawyer, Neal Puckett, a retired Marine Corps lawyer, said Sgt Wuterich “has nothing to hide. We have faith that the military justice system will support split-second decisions made during combat.”Given that the momentum has turned against the government it is likely that LtCol Ware will not recommend charges in this case.

Additionally, in his previous report LtCol Ware cited a number of evidentiary problems with the government’s case that will exist in Sgt Wuterich’s case also. These include inaccurate translations of witness statements, inability of the government produce Iraqi witnesses who would be required at a court-martial, inability to conduct an autopsy on the bodies, and unlawful command influence relating to the statements by the Honorable John Murtha.

yojoe out

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Haditha Update: Investigating Officer Recommends No Charges for LCpl Tatum

LtCol P.J. Ware, USMC, filed the report of his investigation into charges against LCpl Stephen B. Tatum, wherein he recommended no criminal charges. LtCol Ware characterized the shootings as tragedies, but LCpl Tatum did not violate the law.

LtCol Ware previously recommended no charges be brought against LCpl Justin L. Sharratt. LtGen Mattis accepted the recommendations and dropped the charges against LCpl Sharratt. The decision to send LCpl Tatum to a court-martial now rests with LtGen Mattis. It will likely be two weeks before he hands down his decision.

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Haditha Archives

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U.S. Court of Military Commission Review: U.S. v. Khadr

The first hearing of the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review is scheduled to hold its first hearing on 24AUG07. The hearing will hear argument regarding the dismissal of charges against Omar Ahmed Khadr because of a flaw in the Combatant Status Review Tribunals for Guantanamo Bay prisoners. See United States v. Khadr.


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Marine Drill Instructor Charged: 244 Counts of Abusing Recruits

Sgt Jerrod M. Glass, USMC, a Drill Instructors at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, was charged with 244 counts of abusing recruits. The accusations against Sgt Glass include striking almost every member of his platoon, a total of 60 recruits. The four officers who oversaw Sgt Glass have been relieved of their duties.

Capt Patrick J. Callahan, USMC, the defense lawyer for Sgt Glass, requested all charges against he client be read aloud in court. Customarily, the reading of the charges in a court-martial is waived, as the accused has had adequate time to read the charges. The Military Judge was LtCol Jeffery Meeks, who was surprised by the number of officers already punished for the incidents.

The allegations against Sgt Glass include having a recruit jump into a trash can and sticking recruits with a tent pole and flashlight. The prosecutor indicated that he may call every member of the platoon to testify at the court-martial. Given the deployment tempo of the Marine Corps, this may require some of the Marine to return from Iraq. The preliminary date for Sgt Glass’s court-martial is early November 2007.

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Haditha Update: SJA Recuses Himself After Criticizing LtCol Ware

The Staff Judge Advocate, SJA, – the senior legal adviser, roughly equivalent to in-house counsel for a business – for LtGen Mattis removed himself form the case of LCpl Tatum. The SJA, LtCol Bill Riggs, contacted LtCol Ware and criticized him for holding the government to too high of a standard when evaluating the charges against LCpl Tatum. LtCol Ware replied, via e-mail, “I viewed Lt. Col. Riggs’ comments as inappropriate and imprudent. … I was … offended and surprised by this conversation.”

LtCol Ware was the investigating officer for LCpl Sharratt. LtCol Ware unrecommended no charges against the Marines, and LtGen Mattis concurred with this recommendation and dismissed all charges against both LCpl Sharratt and Capt Stone. LtCol Ware will also be the Investigating Officer for SSgt Frank Wuterich.

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Filed under Criminal Law, Haditha, International, Iraq, Law, Military Justice, Military Law

NMCCA: US v. Ledbetter (Aug 07)

The Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals released U.S. v. Ledbetter, No. 200500009, unpublished op. (N.M.Ct.Crim.App. 14 Aug 2007). SPCM, military judge alone, guilty pleas, Arts 80, 81, 91, 95, 108, and 134. Sentence: 5 months, E-1, forfeiture of $500 pay per month for 6 months, and BCD. Appellant claimed (1) improvident plea to resisting apprehension, (2) he was deprived of right to counsel because trial defense counsel never contacted him regarding submission of clemency matters after NMCCA’s remand, (3) ineffective assistance of counsel prior to first CAX, and (4) post-trial delay.

The Court held: assignments of error 1 and 3 were without merit, and withheld ruling on 4. NMCCA resolved AOE 2 by setting aside the convening authority’s action (the 2nd one) and returned the case to the JAG for “proper post-trial processing.” On remand, the trial defense counsel, LT W, received the second SJAR and indicated by Continue reading

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Hamdania Update: Two Marines Released From Brig

Two Marines, LCpl Tyler A. Jackson and LCpl Jerry Shumate Jr., were released from confinement by order of LtGen Mattis. Both Marines were members of the same unit as Sgt Hutchins, Cpl Magincalda, and Cpl Thomas. The two Marines had previously accepted deals for a 21-month cap on confinement in exchange for their guilty pleas.

LtGen Mattis met privately with both Marines before ordering their release. Cpl Robert Penington is the only Marine, who pleaded guilty, who remains in custody. Sgt Hutchins was sentenced to 15 years confinement, thus he remains in confinement. There are no further cases pending for the death in Hamandia, Iraq.

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Haditha Update: Article 32 Investigation for LtCol Chessani to Reopen

The Article 32 investigation into the actions of LtCol Chessani will be reopened on 8AUG07. The purpose of the hearing is to conduct further examination of evidence submitted during the original investigation in May 2007. The prosecutors recommended, to LtGen Mattis, that two additional charges of dereliction of duty be brought against LtCol Chessani. LtGen Mattis agreed to reopen the investigation.

LtCol Chessani is facing the following charge and specifications:

Charge: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 92

Specification 1
(Violation of a lawful order): wrongfully failed to accurately report and thoroughly investigate a possible, suspected, or alleged violation of the law of war by Marines under his command. Maximum punishment dismissal, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 2 years)

Specification 2
(Dereliction): willfully failed to ensure that this possible, suspected, or alleged violation of the law of war was accurately Continue reading

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Filed under Criminal Law, Haditha, Iraq, Military Justice, Military Law

Hamdania Update: Sgt Hutchins Sentenced to 15 Years

On 3 August 2007, Sgt Lawrence G. Hutchins III, was sentenced to 15 years confinement, reduction in rank to Pvt./E-1, a dishonorable discharge and a reprimand. For his involvement in the murder of an Iraqi civilian in April 2006, in Hamdania, Iraq. Sgt Hutchins had been found guilty of unpremeditated murder, larceny, making a false official statement and conspiracy to commit the following: murder, larceny, obstruction of justice and false official statement.
Two other Marines from Sgt Hutchins’s squad, Cpl Magincalda and Cpl Thomas were recently sentence. Both of these Marines received time served, which was approximately 450 days, reduction to private, and one received a bad-conduct discharge.


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Lawyering Tip: RSS Legal Feeds

If any of you use RSS readers or depend on the internet for news related to your profession (or simply for enjoyment), you should be familiar with Netvibes. Netvibes is perhaps one of the more elegant and streamlined RSS readers out there. It’s been my intention to post a full review of the site in a future posting.

Until then, I’m publishing my law-related feeds in the shared section of Netvibes. The feeds, almost 50 sites in all, are a compilation of several dozen of the best legal sites and blogs out there, and via Netvibes, makes reading the content quite easy.

Simply float your mouse over a given headline, and you’ll get a bubble with a paragraph selection of the news item or blog post. Click on the headline, and you’ll be given a mini-RSS reader within Netvibes, without actually having to exit to another website. I’ve played around with software-based and web-based readers, including Windows Live, Google, and others, but I’ve continued to return to Netvibes as my main reader. The interface is very fast, and makes quickly locating the articles of interest a breeze.

Harry Lime’s Legal Feeds via Netvibes. Enjoy! And please send any good sites my way, I’d be glad to add to the pot.


Filed under Appellate Law, Criminal Law, Law, Military Justice, Military Law, Supreme Court, Tech, Windows Vista

Ex-Military Smackdown: Court of Federal Claims Cracks the Whip Against “Razor’s Edge of Frivolity” Claims

In five recent cases last week, two of which are by ex-military members , the Court of Federal Claims has dismissed the cases because “Plaintiff’s counsel has submitted filings which contain numerous errors and exhibit a fundamental misunderstanding of this Court’s jurisdiction.” (emphasis added).  The court referred the matters, along with three other cases, to the Chief Judge under Rule 83.2(d), the rule governing diciplinary proceedings for “misconduct or allegations of misconduct” by the attorney.

The two cases involving ex-military plaintiffs are Janaskie v. United States, No. 06-602C (Fed. Cl. July 31, 2007) and Pope v. United States, No. 06-446C (July 31, 2007).  The other three cases were Locke v. United States, No. 06-629T (Fed. Cl. July 10, 2007), Leshin v. United States, No. 06-637T (Fed. Cl. Jan. 11, 2006), and Cherbanaeff v. United States, No. 06-640T (Fed. Cl. July 12, 2007).  Four, and I would presume all five of the cases have the same plaintiffs’ counsel (though I cannot locate the fifth, Leshin). 

In the two miltary cases, involving a retired U.S. Air Force senior master sergeant and a discharged member of the California National Guard, the plaintiffs both claimed that the Government was required to compensate them for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Continue reading

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Hamdania Update: Cpl Marshall L. Magincalda, USMC, Sentenced to Time Served

Corporal Marshall L. Magincalda, USMC, was found guilty of larceny, housebreaking and conspiracy to commit the following: murder,kidnapping, larceny,obstruction of justice, false official statement and housebreaking. The members returned the verdict on 1 August 2007.

On 3 August 2007, he was sentenced to 448 days confinement and reduction in rank to Private. He had been in the brig at Camp Pendleton for the past 450 days, thus he will be released immediately. His sentence is similar to that of Cpl Thomas, except that Cpl Magincalda did not receive a bad-conduct discharge.

Because he did not receive a discharge at the court-martial, the Marine Corps will either separate him administratively or not allow him to reenlist. That is if the Marine Corps does not allow him to stay in the service, which is highly unlikely. Additionally, what are the chances that he would want to stay in the Corps after spending over a year in the brig?

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Hamandia Update: Sgt Hutchins, USMC, Found Guilty of Murder

Sgt Lawrence G. Hutchins III.USMC, was found guilty of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, making a false official statement, and larceny. He was also acquitted of the greater charge of unpremeditated murder. Sentencing will likely continue tomorrow, 3AUG07.

Cpl Marshall L. Magincalda, USMC, was found guilty, on 1AUG07, of larceny, housebreaking and conspiracy to commit the following: murder,kidnapping, larceny,obstruction of justice, false official statement and housebreaking. There has yet to be a sentence in his case.

Cpl Trent D. Thomas, USMC, also involved in the death of the Iraqi civilian, was sentenced to time served, reduction to the rank of private (E-1), and a bad-conduct discharge, on 20 July 2007. Cpl Thomas was found guilty of kidnapping and conspiracy to commit larceny, housebreaking,kidnapping, false official statements, and murder for his involvement in the death of an Iraqi civilian on April 26, 2006, near Hamdania,Iraq.

yojoe out


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