Posts Tagged With: Coast Guard Academy

Judge London Steverson, This Is Your Life

 https://www.amazon.com/My-Life-Coast-Guard-Tiger-ebook/dp/B077G9BS5R/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Judge London Steverson has written the story of his life. Trying to write a book about my life is like trying to describe the landscape by looking out the window of a moving train. The events continue to unfold faster than one can describe them. My life is a work in progress. For this reason I have decided to look at my life in phases that have a clearly defined beginning and an end. In this book I intend to describe that part of my life that was shaped by my involvement in the Martial Arts. 

https://www.amazon.com/Judge-London-Steverson/e/B006WQKFJM


IN A NUT SHELL 
I, London Eugene Livingston Steverson retired from the United States Coast Guard in 1988 as a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR). Later, I retired from the Social Security Administration (SSA) as the Senior Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the Office of Disability Appeals and Review (ODAR) Downey, California.
In 1964, I was one of the first two African Americans to receive an Appointment as a Cadet to the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. I graduated in 1968. After two years at sea on an Icebreaker, the USCGC Glacier (WAGB-4), and another two years as a Search and Rescue Operations Officer in the 17th Coast Guard District Juneau, Alaska, I was appointed Chief of the newly formed Minority Recruiting Section in the Office of Personnel at Coast Guard Headquarters, 7th and D Street, SW, in Washington, DC. My primary duty was to recruit Black High School graduates for the Coast Guard Academy. This was my passion, so I set about this in a most vigorous manner.
I have written several books concerning Military Justice, famous Courts-martial Cases, and Social Security Disability Determination Cases. I am a retired member of the New York State Bar Association, The Association of The Bar of The City of New York, and The Tennessee Bar Associations.
A Presidential Executive Order issued by President Harry Truman had desegregated the armed forces in 1948, but the military academies lagged far behind in officer recruiting.
President John F. Kennedy specifically challenged the Coast Guard Academy to increase appointments to qualified Black American high school students.
I was one of the first Black High School students to be offered such an appointment in 1964. I had a Black classmate from New Jersey, Kenny Boyd. We would become known as “The Kennedy Cadets”, because the pressure to recruit us originated with President John F. Kennedy.
On June 4, 1968, I graduated from the Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and a commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard.
My first duty assignment out of the Academy was in Antarctic research logistical support. In July 1968 I reported aboard the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Glacier (WAGB-4), an icebreaker operating under the control of the U.S. Navy. I served as a deck watch officer and head of the Marine Science Department. I traveled to Antarctica during two patrols from July 1968 to August 1969, supporting the research operations of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Research Project in and around McMurdo Station.
In 1974, while still an active duty member of the Coast Guard, I entered The National Law Center of The George Washington University. I graduated in 1977 with a Juris Doctor of Laws Degree.
I worked as a Law Specialist in the 12th Coast Guard District Office, San Francisco, California and as an Assistant U. S. Attorney for the collection of Civil Penalties under the Federal Boating Safety Act from 1979 to 1982. As Assistant District Legal Officer, I was required to defend as well as prosecute military members who had been charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Occasionally I was asked to represent other officers in administrative actions involving sexual harassment and discrimination. One such case was the Case of Christine D. Balboni . 

 Ensign (ENS) Balboni was one of the first female graduates of the Academy, Class of 1981. She filed the first case of Sexual Harassment case in the military.

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Categories: SteversonBookCollection | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And Then He Opened The Wrong Door

 

                                                                                                                   

      Once a marine, always a marine. A proud saying that bears repeating.

Once a retired officer, always an officer. Retired officers are only receiving lower compensation. They are still on the payroll. They can be brought back to active duty for disciplinary action. A retired officer can be punished by court-martial.

Former Cadet Alexander Arthur Stevens, U S Coast Guard Academy, was found dead not wearing any clothing on January 4, 2017 in the forested mountains of western Maryland shortly after a female companion walked out of the woods, suffering from hypothermia, authorities said. His naked body showed signs of trauma, according to police.

Stevens is a former U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet who was booted from the academy in 2014 following an alleged sexual-assault investigation.

(See http://cgachasehall.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-weak-case-for-court-martial.html)
Following the disciplinary action by the Superintendent at the Academy, Alexander Stevens went home to Frostburg and enrolled at Frostburg State University, university spokeswoman Elizabeth Medcalf said. He attended last fall, majoring in engineering, but had not enrolled for the spring semester, she said.

Stevens and a female companion were last seen together around 5 p.m. January 3 near a Savage River State Forest trail-head near the rural community of Barton, about 140 west of Baltimore, Maryland Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candy Thomson said. A search was launched at about 3 a.m. January 4 in response to a 911 call reporting them missing.

The female walked out of the woods to a house shortly before 9 a.m., and emergency responders were called. A Maryland State Police helicopter crew spotted Stevens’ body shortly thereafter on private property adjacent to the 54,000-acre state forest.

His body showed signs of undisclosed trauma. Cadet Stevens was found near Pine Swamp Road, which is crossed by the Big Savage Mountain hiking trail. The trail there follows a logging road through steep, rocky terrain, according to the website of Garrett Trails, a nonprofit group that promotes hiking in Garrett County.

The night was relatively mild, with overnight lows in nearby Frostburg and Cumberland never dropping below 40 F degrees. Live traffic cameras operated by the Maryland Department of Transportation show little snow cover remaining along Interstate 68 after a storm 4 days prior covered the region with up to 6 inches.

The investigation was conducted by the Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division and the State Police Homicide Unit. Assistance was provided by the Allegany County Combined Criminal Investigations Unit (C3I) and Natural Resources Police.   Limited information has been provided by state police investigators.

The relationship between Stevens and the female has been reported as “boyfriend, girlfriend.” The woman, believed to be in her 20s, reportedly cooperated with investigators throughout the investigation. In a 911 call, she reportedly told emergency workers that Cadet Stevens had fallen off a cliff.

According to Elena Russo, state police spokesman at Pikesville, “We are still waiting for toxicology reports”.

 

                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                   (Cadet Alexander Stevens, above right)

 

Cadet Alexander Stevens was a cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). He was a native of the Frostburg, MD area. In high school he was active in plays and musicals, having a fine baritone voice. He was a member of the Concert choir. He was the Pirate King in the Pirates of Penzance. He played Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. He was a member of Concert band, Jazz Orchestra, and Marching band all four years of high school. He was a natural for the Coast Guard Academy Glee Club.

        He participated in football, basketball, cross-country and track & field. 

        He attended the Cambridge University in England Summer Program for high school students.

        The American Legion selected him as their representative to Maryland Boys State.

        He was a Boy Scout and Senior Patrol Leader, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.

        He was a World Traveler, traveling widely through Western Europe and Korea. 

        He loved the great outdoors, and was an avid camper.

        He loved to stargaze, rock climb, and hike.

        He had a great sense of humor and he loved animals. 

        He was an all around nice guy. He was meek and lowly.

        He was the main speaker at his high school graduation, giving the Senior Address.

 

       He was accused at the Coast Guard Academy of breaking into the room of a female cadet of lower rank in Chase Hall and sexually abusing her.

The Coast Guard prosecutor, Lt. Tyler McGill, alleged that Cadet Stevens  was on a mission for sexual gratification that September night. The room Stevens entered was about 300 feet from his girlfriend’s room.

“Cadet Stevens did not walk into the room right next door,” McGill said.

Lt. John Cole, Cadet Stevens’ Assigned Military Defense Counsel, said the government didn’t prove sexual intent. He claimed Stevens was drunk at the time and made a mental mistake.

Just because he accidentally touched the wrong cadet’s leg doesn’t mean he should go to court martial,” Cole said.

Cole argued that Stevens should face administrative punishment, which can include expulsion. Administrative punishment is not criminal in nature. Non-judicial punishment (NJP) under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the lowest form of criminal proceeding available to the military. Above NJP there are three levels of courts-martial. They are a Summary, a Special and a General Court-matial. They differ in the maximum amount of punishment they can award to a convicted member. A court martial is a Federal Criminal Trial and can lead to prison time if the person is convicted.

The Article 32 pretrial investigation is similar to a civilian grand jury. It is used to determine whether there is enough evidence to refer the case to a court-martial.

A hearing in the form of an Article 32 Investigation was held  Wednesday April 2nd at the Coast Guard Academy. The Article 32 Investigating Officer (IO) has not yet made a recommendation. The IO could recommend that the case be dismissed, dealt with administratively or referred for trial by court-martial.

Usually the accused usually does not testify at an Article 32 Hearing.

Most smart Defense Counsels do not let their clients testify at an Article 32 Hearing. They use that opportunity to discover the Government’s case. They get a chance to see how much evidence the Government has and how strong it is.

Cadet Stevens, who was accused of abusive sexual contact, housebreaking and unlawful entry, did not testify.

The Testimony was weak.

The female complaining witness testified that a man entered her room in the middle of the night, touched her on her thigh and moved his hand up her leg before she screamed and kicked him.

“I remember someone fumbling with my blanket that was on top of me and touching my leg,” she said, describing skin-to-skin contact and the swirling motion of a hand moving up her leg. “I kicked my legs and I screamed.”

The man either fell or jumped off her bed and fled. She says she chased him and located a friend.

“I kept telling him (the friend) that’s not right,” she said, noting that she was shaking and crying.

The cadet said she found it hard to sleep and concentrate after the encounter, and her grades suffered.

“I think he should be kicked out of the Coast Guard. I think he should be a registered sex offender, and I think he should go to jail,” she said.

Cadet Stevens’ explanation Was credible and exculpatory.

Stevens said in an interview that he went into the fellow cadet’s room and touched her with his hand, said Eric Gempp, a special agent with the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS). Stevens said he was startled when the cadet said, “Hey!” He quickly left the room, Stevens told investigators.

Stevens said he went into the room by mistake, believing it was his girlfriend’s room, Gempp testified.

Defense Counsel was able to get the accused’s statements into the record without him taking the witness stand.

Chief Robert Cain testified that Stevens voluntarily came to him and told him during a night of drinking he got into an argument with his girlfriend. Cain said Stevens told him after returning to his room that he decided to apologize and went to what he thought was his girlfriend’s room, tapped her on the leg and realized he was in the wrong room.

Another cadet testified that classmates often go into the wrong rooms, but said the mistake typically involves going into a room one or two doors away.

The only cadet ever court-martialed at the academy, Webster Smith, was tried in 2006 at a General Court-martial and convicted on extortion, sodomy and indecent assault charges.

(The Webster Smith Case was appealed all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. It is fully documented in a book entitled “Conduct Unbecoming An Officer and a Lady” available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-Conviction/dp/1460978021 )

The Article 32 investigating officer (IO) in this case could recommend that the alleged offenses be dismissed, dealt with administratively, or referred for trial by court-martial.

Anonymous said…QUOTE:
This is not a case of sexual assault; the evidence presented by the government failed to prove anything more than the fact that there is a systemic problem of alcohol abuse and confusion over dorm room locations running rampant at the USCGA. Multiple witnesses confirmed the events of the night as purported by Cadet Stevens. Moreover, they confirmed that it is a too-frequent occurrence for over-intoxicated cadets to return to Chase Hall and accidentally walk into the wrong room. The alleged victim’s own roommate testified to that fact without reservation.

Doors have locks, the roommate also confirmed, but cadets are not permitted keys; only the XO has a master key to unlock doors. The only way a cadet could secure his/her room is when all occupants are safely inside. This is surely a contributor to issues of unspeakable theft, vandalism and abuse current and former cadets can tell.

The Article 32 Hearing was a manufactured event architected by someone with an agenda that goes beyond the unfortunate incident that occurred in the wee hours of September 15. Yes, Cadet Stevens was drunk and made a horrible mistake. But it was not assault and any reasonable person who looks at all of the evidence will quickly come to this conclusion. To reach any other decision is an overt decision to falsely accuse – and ruin – the character and integrity of the very same honor all cadets represent.

 
Admiral Stosz has issues within her ranks of leadership, character and courage; she needs to look at the culture of Chase Hall and question why cadets are abusing alcohol and questioning if the restrictive weekday rigor and lax weekend liberty — call it Feast or Famine — is modeling the lifestyle and behaviors that mold tomorrow’s Coast Guard leaders. These are far greater issues than addressing Cadet Steven’s long overdue Mast for drunkenly walking into another’s room in error.

I, for one, did not lose the irony of the drawn-out investigation culminating with a hearing that began with the start of the Coast Guard’s Sexual Prevention and Awareness Month. This is showmanship at the taxpayer’s expense, folks, and nothing more.

UNQUOTE.

Coast Guard cadet won’t be court-martialed

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) 12 June 2014 — A U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet accused of entering a classmate’s room and touching her leg will not face a court martial, the academy said Thursday.

Coast Guard Academy Superintendent, Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, agreed with the recommendations of an Article 32 Investigating Officer that reasonable grounds did not exist to support the charge of abusive sexual contact against cadet Alexander Stevens. Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, also agreed with a recommendation to impose nonjudicial punishment (NJP) on Cadet Stevens for unlawfully entering a cadet barracks room while drunk and touching another cadet on the leg, Coast Guard officials said.

The academy did not disclose details of the punishment, citing Stevens’ privacy rights. Nonjudicial punishment may include a reprimand, arrest in quarters for up to 30 days, pay forfeiture or expulsion from the academy.

“The Academy has remained committed to providing all needed support to the victim, ensuring a full and fair proceeding in compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and holding those who commit misconduct accountable for their actions,” said Capt. James McCauley, the Commandant of Cadets at the U S Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT..

In September 2013, Stevens said, he went into the fellow cadet’s room by mistake, believing it was his girlfriend’s room, an investigator testified.

He was drunk at the time and made a mental mistake, Lt. John Cole, who represented Stevens, said during the Article 32 Pre-trial investigation at the Academy in April 2014.

The female cadet classmate testified that a man entered her room in the middle of the night, touched her on her thigh and moved his hand up her leg before she screamed and kicked him. The cadet said she found it hard to sleep and concentrate after the encounter, and her grades suffered.

A Government appointed prosecutor, LT Tyler McGill, at the Article 32 Investigation argued that Stevens was on a mission for sexual gratification. The room Stevens went into was about 300 feet from his girlfriend’s room, Lt. Tyler McGill said, and noted that the classmate was lower in rank.

“Cadet Stevens did not walk into the room right next door,” McGill said.

But the government failed to prove sexual intent, Cole argued.

“Just because he accidentally touched the wrong cadet’s leg doesn’t mean he should go to court martial,” Cole said.

Stevens did not testify.

A conviction in a court martial can lead to prison time.

The only cadet ever court-martialed at the academy, Webster Smith, was tried in 2006 and convicted on extortion, sodomy and indecent assault charges.

(By John Christoffersen, AP) 

 
COMMENTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA FROM CADETS AT THE COAST GUARD ACADEMY WERE QUICK AND CONSISTENT  (and mostly anonymous)
(1)

This is not a case of sexual assault; the evidence presented by the government failed to prove anything more than the fact that there is a systemic problem of alcohol abuse and confusion over dorm room locations running rampant at the USCGA. Multiple witnesses confirmed the events of the night as purported by Cadet Stevens. Moreover, they confirmed that it is a too-frequent occurrence for over-intoxicated cadets to return to Chase Hall and accidentally walk into the wrong room. The alleged victim’s own roommate testified to that fact without reservation.

Doors have locks, the roommate also confirmed, but cadets are not permitted keys; only the XO has a master key to unlock doors. The only way a cadet could secure his/her room is when all occupants are safely inside. This is surely a contributor to issues of unspeakable theft, vandalism and abuse current and former cadets can tell.

The Article 32 Hearing was a manufactured event architected by someone with an agenda that goes beyond the unfortunate incident that occurred in the wee hours of September 15. Yes, Cadet Stevens was drunk and made a horrible mistake. But it was not assault and any reasonable person who looks at all of the evidence will quickly come to this conclusion. To reach any other decision is an overt decision to falsely accuse – and ruin – the character and integrity of the very same honor all cadets represent.

Admiral Stosz has issues within her ranks of leadership, character and courage; she needs to look at the culture of Chase Hall and question why cadets are abusing alcohol and questioning if the restrictive weekday rigor and lax weekend liberty — call it Feast or Famine — is modeling the lifestyle and behaviors that mold tomorrow’s Coast Guard leaders. These are far greater issues than addressing Cadet Steven’s long overdue Mast for drunkenly walking into another’s room in error.

I, for one, did not lose the irony of the drawn-out investigation culminating with a hearing that began with the start of the Coast Guard’s Sexual Prevention and Awareness Month. This is showmanship at the taxpayer’s expense, folks, and nothing more.

 
(2)  The woman is definitely not officer material as she won’t hold up in a war front or during a battle… thrown into the mist of a battle or fight, she would be complaining someone touch her precious body. Now if he grab some titty or fondle her #$%$ or box, then that would be not acceptable. She just made the ultimate mistake in the military and this will follow her every place she goes and NO ONE will respect her.

Signed,

Disgusted

 
(3)   So a person has to let the courts take care of something that should have been dealt with on the spot. I don’t think this attitude works for the decisiveness required of future officers.

Signed,

Concerned Citizen

 
(4)  In mixed dorms, with the history of abuse in the academy, don’t these people have locks on their doors? Is it some kind of statement of female independence not to lock door at least at night?

This situation is a bit fuzzy and in a world now where any even anonymous allegation is given major notice, how much truth is there here. On either side.

Signed,

johnb

 
(5)  Oh please, grow up. What is she, ten? A REAL woman would just demand he takes his hand off of her and if he doesn’t comply, slap him. It’s worked for centuries. And what evidence is there? She could be making up the whole thing. I’m a bit tired of people making accusations for which there is no proof. It’s too easy.

Signed,

Mike

 
(6)  No locks on the doors??

Signed,

Peter

 
(7)  Girls, guys–they are all equal now. If a guy had been in this girl’s place, what would he have done? He’d kick the #$%$ out of the offender; so this gal should have done the same thing.

Signed,

Jonathan

 
(8)  I miss the good old days, where she’d have a guy friend beat some sense into this guy and the issue would be resolved. Now everything has to be a sensational court drama. The new USSA – any violation and off to the goolag. We have more people incarcerated in this country than any other civilized country in the world. Won’t be long before we start throwing people in jail for not having health insurance(IRS aka SS is involved).

Signed,

Scooter

 
(9)  She is just trying to get extra treatment in a very difficult place for any one to gain the upper hand. Wow, I guess no more parties, Mardi Gras, ridding NY subway, buses at rush hour as I’m bound to bump into someone and sometimes it’s their #$%$ or bellies or legs and sometimes oversized boobs. Lets get unserious on this type of accidental touching. Shocked it made the news unless someone is looking to bash the Academy… jealous are you!

Signed,

Disgusted
 
(10)  Having graduated from that Academy myself, I’m almost embarrased that such a trivial event as a guy getting drunk, thinking he’s in his girlfriend’s room, putting a hand on her leg, being yelled at, quickly removing his hand, and quickly leaving the room is a call for JAIL time? Court martial? Sexual Predator list? C’mon, there was no intent here. No “sexual” contact. No “housebreaking” (as I’m sure the door was not locked.) Does this guy have a record of ever doing anything like that before? Does this girl have a record of being overly sensitive about herself? When I was there this is the kind of thing that the Corps would handle without ever involving the authorities. Now I guess it’s like everywhere else.

Signed,

HansenJG

 
(11)  HansenJG, I am inclined to agree with you but we don’t know all of the facts. I did note that she said her grades suffered after the incident. Was she about to be dismissed from the Academy for grades and then brought this up as a way to continue her education on the taxpayer’s dime?

Signed,

Troy

 
(12)  The woman is definitely not officer material as she won’t hold up in a war front or during a battle… thrown into the mist of a battle or fight, she would be complaining someone touch her precious body. Now if he grab some titty or fondle her #$%$ or box, then that would be not acceptable. She just made the ultimate mistake in the military and this will follow her every place she goes and NO ONE will respect her.
 
(13)  I’ll bet you would change your tune if it were a gay soldier who came into your room and touched YOUR leg… I mean really, how do you expect to hold up in battle if you can’t handle a man coming into your room and touching your leg in a sexual fashion.

Signed,

Star Spangled

 
(14)  His story adds up…hers sounds more emotionally driven. Was it traumatic? I’m sure. Was he at fault for being drunk and disorderly? Of course. Does a brush of the hand on a thigh constitute serious sexual assault? No…a mistake he needs to rectify, but shes not a much a victim as she thinks she is. If there was no malicious intent and no real harm done, then where is the major crime?

Signed,

Doug

 
(15)  She sounds like she is extremely sensitive and is not good with startling situations considering she is not sleeping and her grades are suffering. The military or any high stress and or potentially dangerous job is really not the place for her. I do see a problem with the guy not sticking around, apologizing and explaining the error at the time it happened.

Signed,

M

 
 
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The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word

WebsterSmithBookCoverPreview.do

http://www.amazon.com/Case-Cadet-Webster-Smith-Last/dp/1533400806/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Synopsis:

 

We, as Americans, cherish fairness. We like to believe that people are not punished or unjustly rewarded without justifiable cause. We like to dwell on parables of white virtue and black advancement culminating in the flowering of goodwill all around. Events sometimes force us to widen our gaze and focus on terrain we would rather not see. The 2006 court-martial of Cadet Webster Smith at the United States Coast Guard Academy did just that. The Webster Smith case was a litmus test for justice in America. Every once in a while a case comes along that puts our humanity as a people, and as Americans, on trial. Everything that we profess to stand for as Americans was on trial. Our sense of justice in America and particularly in the U.S. Military was on trial. This was no ordinary trial. Our humanity was on trial. Our system of justice was on trial. This case dissolved the deceptive façade and exposed certain moral deficiencies in our system of justice. This case alone puts the legitimacy of the entire military justice system at risk.

Webster Smith availed himself of every path to justice that we have. He filed an Article 138 Complaint under the UCMJ. He faced the Article 32 Investigation with two lawyers. He asserted all of his Constitutional Criminal Guarantees. He knew and made appropriate use of the Right to Counsel, the Right to Remain Silent, the right to a jury trial, the Right to Confront the witnesses against him, the right call witnesses on his behalf, the right to present evidence favorable to him, the presumption of innocence until his guilt was proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and the right to argue his case before the Jury.

His Appellate Counsel, Ronald Machen, was top notch. He became the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. In April 2015, he left the position and returned to the law firm WilmerHale.  Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr®  has played a leading role in historic events and landmark cases that have shaped the nation and left their mark across the globe. In matters ranging from the Army-McCarthy hearings to the legal defense of civil rights, from the 9/11 Commission to the restoration of the rule of law in apartheid-torn South Africa, their lawyers have made contributions that have profoundly affected our society. Because the law is still a profession as well as a business, lawyers have special obligations to the administration of justice and the development of the law. Their lawyers are  encouraged to meet these obligations through pro bono work. Attorney Machen represented Webster Smith on a pro bono basis. He received no fee.

Webster Smith appealed his conviction all the way to the United States Supreme Court. He lost at the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals. He lost at the Court Of Appeals for the Armed Forces of the United States. The U. S. Supreme Court dismissed his appeal without comment. And, on top of the aforesaid, he filed a Complaint of Discrimination, pursuant to Commandant Instruction 5350.11. He had an air tight and fool proof case of disparate treatment. Yet, he lost. He lost because the System was manned by the most incompetent people God ever created. They did not have a clue as to what was going on in their office. The most significant case in the history of the Department of Homeland Security and the Armed Forces of America came to them and they were not capable of processing it properly.

On top of everything else, Webster Smith had bad luck. At some juncture along the way, most other people would have won, but not Webster Smith. One has to wonder why. There are some who will say that it was because he was Black. They will say that the System was designed and administered by white men and women; and, no Black man can obtain justice in that System. They might have a point, even though some of the decisions made concerning his case were made by Black people in key offices.

We now see that there is little or no justice in military justice. Any reasonable person who looks at this case or any other high profile military justice case would have to conclude that the Military Justice System is not designed to render justice. It is a system designed to punish. The entire courts-martial system, from Summary Court-martial to General Court-martial, has one specific purpose; that is to punish anyone who commits an offense against the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

This is intended to be the definitive word on the first and only court-martial of a United States Coast Guard Academy cadet. The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word is written from the perspective of the accused, Cadet First Class Webster Smith. It is not written from the perspective of his accusers. A prior account of this case focused on the women involved. Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Lady told the story of the court-martial from the perspective of the witnesses for the prosecution.

Why now? Well, there are several reasons. This Case is unique in that this has never happened before. No other Coast Guard Academy Cadet has ever been punished at a General Courts-martial. That is saying a lot for an institution that has been around since 1876.

Also, it has been ten years since the trial and conviction. An entire decade has passed. The sentence has been served. The Supreme Court Petition for A Writ of Certiorari has been denied. The Record is complete.

Cadet Smith was a senior when the trial began. He was within months of graduating from the Academy, but he was expelled. No Clemency was granted. His career was ruined. His life was irreparably harmed. For ten years he was required to register in the State of Texas as a Sexual offender. He married, had children, and for ten years he was not allowed to attend the birthday parties of his children.

This Case has been hotly debated in certain quarters. The Coast Guard has tried its best to forget that this court-martial ever occurred. However, I fear that this Case will be debated and talked about for years to come. Long after the political and social climates that gave rise to this Case have abated; cadets, officers, politicians and parents will be discussing the Webster Smith Case.

What distinguishes this book from other books on the Case is that this book distinguishes how the Coast Guard Legal Officers and the senior Academy officers disposed of this case as opposed to other cases with similar fact patterns. This Case will serve as a witness to an era in the United States Military and its Service Academies that was ripe with cultural and ethical upheavals, proceedings with plenty of due process and little justice, sexual assaults in the military, retaliation against whistleblowers, mind blowing results, aggravation and frustration. 

The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word

Title ID: 6293877

ISBN-13: 978-1533400802

 

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The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word

Unrestricted Coast Guard Chronicles Vol 02 Nr 01

BY_AUTHOR Judge London Steverson

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ISBN-13: 978-1533400802

6″ x 9″ on WHITE Paper

(198 pages, Black & White)

15.24 x 22.86 cm

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Interior: The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word – updated version edited 2- formatted15Apr11.docx

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Cover Finish: Glossy

Cover: cover-creator.pdf

 

The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word

Title ID: 6293877

ISBN-13: 978-1533400802

Categories: Military Justice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Commander Merle James Smith, Junior, U S Coast Guard (Retired); This Is Your Life

Before there was Affirmative Action at the United States Coast Guard Academy, there were athletic scouts and the recruitment of star athletes.

The Chief Scout at the Coast Guard Academy was Captain Otto Graham, formerly the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns professional football team.

Merle James Smith, Junior was recruited into the Coast Guard Academy to play football. Captain Otto Graham, the Athletic Director, said he needed a defensive tackle and a wide receiver on the varsity football team. That was on or about 1960 or 1961.

https://judgelondonsteverson.me/tag/merle-smith-coast-guard/

The Coast Guard Academy made a small step for America, and a giant step for African Americans. It had done the right thing for the right reason. This was not the most popular thing to do at this time.

Considering what was happening a bit further south in America. In places like Little Rock, AR. and Birmingham,AL what had been accomplished at the Coast Guard Academy with little or no fanfare was creating major social upheaval. Some Southern communities responded with police dogs and fire hoses.
Some time later it was discovered that this football player, Merle Smith, Junior may have had some African blood. And the rest is history.

 How many years must a man faithfully serve, before he is given the Honor he is due?

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

50 years is only half a Century; but it is never too late to tweak Posterity.


CDR Merle James Smith, Jr., an authentic American Hero, from the Old School. He achieved honor and glory the old fashioned way; he earned it!!

 http://capitolwords.org/date/2012/05/14/S3126-3_tribute-to-merle-j-smith-jr/

(CDR Merle Smith, USCG (Ret.) and Judge London Steverson, USALJ (Ret.) drink a toast to their 52 years of friendship at the Coast Guard Academy Eclipse Week Celebration honoring the 50th Anniversary of  CDR Smith’s graduation from the Academy as the  First Black Graduate.)

Congratulations Commander Merle J. Smith, Junior. Today you are the most interesting man in America.

You deserved the 13 Gun Salute and the full Regimental Parade given to you on April 10, 2016.

 This recognition is well deserved and long overdue. Honoring the first Black graduate honors all Black graduates.

The Academy was founded in 1876. The exclusion of African Americans from the Academy from 1876 until 1962 is a tragic fact of American history.

On April 10, 2016 fifty-four years after he was sworn in as a cadet at the United States Coast Guard Academy, CDR Smith was honored for being the first American of African ancestry to graduate from this historic institution.

The Academy was not aware initially that there was an African American cadet at the Academy. He had not been recruited as a “Black cadet”; nor, was he recognized as one by the Coast Guard Academy Admission’s Office.

Possibly, he was not recognized as an African American because he did not physically resemble one. None of his school records labeled him as Black, and he had not been recruited as a minority candidate.

When Black spectators from the New London community came to watch the corps of cadets march in parade, they frequently mistook Anthony Carbone and Donnie Winchester as the possible Black cadet. Carbone was an Italian, and Winchester was a Native American. They both had considerably darker complexions and more course facial features than Merle Smith.

CDR Smith’s appointment had been tendered before President Kennedy issued the directive to find and appoint Black candidates for the Coast Guard Academy.

His father, Colonel Merle Smith , Senior, was the Professor of Military Science at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland; and, he had formerly been an Army Staff officer at the Pentagon.

The only two Black cadets to have been recruited under President John F. Kennedy’s Directive were London Steverson and Kenneth Boyd. They entered the Academy in 1964 and graduated in 1968.

This official portrait should be sent on a cross-country all Coast Guard Units/Facilities Tour to educate the troops and the corps on African American achievements since CAPT Mike Healey. This should be done before the portrait finds its permanent resting place at the Coast Guard Academy.

Rear Admiral and Mrs James Rendon, congratulate CDR Merle James Smith II, USCG (Ret.) on April 09, 2016 at the Annual Eclipse Awards Banquet at the United States Coast Guard Academy. RADM Rendon is the 41st Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
The Eclipse Banquet was to honor CDR Smith for his achievement of being the first Academy graduated of African Ancestry.

A 13 Gun Salute and a full Regimental Parade for CDR Merle James Smith, Jr. to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of his graduation from the U S Coast Guard Academy, the first American of African Ancestry to do so.

Vice Admiral Thomas R. Sargent III, USCG, a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 1938, presents LT Merle J, Smith II, the Bronze Star, with “V” for Valor.

(http://www.uscg.mil/history/WEBORALHISTORY/FCGH_VADM_Sargent_Interview_1.asp

VADM Sargent III, was also a veteran of Vietnam service. He loved to tell stories of his experiences in Vietnam.

QUOTE:

The other little story is I went to Vietnam and I was assigned a hotel room.  It was an annex.  I can’t remember the name of the annex but it consisted of one room with a toilet and they used to turn all the electricity off about nine o’clock at night, and then I . . . anyway, I completed my work there and called up for a car to take me to the airport.  I called, naturally, the Army motor pool and a little Vietnamese gal answered the telephone and I said, “This is Captain Sargent.  I’d like to have a car take me to the airport”, and I gave her the time and she said, “Captains no rate cars.”  Well captains in the Army didn’t rate cars but captains in the Coast Guard and the Navy did, and she hung up on me.  Well the telephone system in Vietnam was not very good and so it took me another 20 minutes before I finally got through.  Another Vietnamese girl answered the phone and I said, “Let me talk to your supervisor”, and low and behold Lomca [phonetic] answered the telephone as a Sergeant and I said, “This is Captain Sargent.  I need a car to take me to the airport”, and he said, “Listen buddy. I’m a sergeant, you’re a sergeant. I don’t rate a car and nor do you”, and he hung up on me again and I thought, “Oh, something’s got to change”, so I called up once more. I got him again and I said, “This is Colonel Savage, United States Coast Guard.  Send my car down.  I want to go to the airport.”  He said, “Yes Sir”, and so I signed for the car as T. R. Salvage, and I don’t know what happened to it but it worked, and the reason I picked out the name Savage is because when I was a cadet [at the Academy]  there was a certain Lieutenant Commander [Robert T.] McElligott who became a rear admiral who was a physics instructor.  I was sitting in class and for some reason or other Admiral McElligott couldn’t remember my name and so he asked a question and then he said, “Mr. Savage, I want you to answer it”, and I didn’t.  I didn’t even pay attention because Savage didn’t ring a bell and he yelled, “Mr. Savage”, and I suddenly realized he meant me and I said, “Yes Sir.”  He said, “Put yourself on report for inattention in class.”  “Yes Sir.”  So that’s why I remember the name Savage [chuckle].

UNQUOTE. 

The Academy was not aware initially that there was an African American cadet at the Academy. He had not been recruited as a “Black cadet”; nor, was he recognized as one by the Coast Guard Academy Admission’s Office.

Possibly, he was not recognized as an African American because he did not physically resemble one. None of his school records labeled him as Black, and he had not been recruited as a minority candidate.

Some time in 1962 rumors began to be circulated in the Black Community of New London, Connecticut that there was a Black cadet at the Coast Guard Academy. How did those rumors start? It was suggested at the time that Doctor Bill Waller,  the Chemistry Professor at the Academy had  started the rumors.

I can verify that Doctor Waller was indeed the source of those rumors. In 1967 Doctor Waller invited me to his home on several occasions on a Sunday afternoon. He told me himself that he had put the word out that there was a Black cadet at the Academy. He also said that several members of his church had come back and told him that they had stood outside the Academy fence and watched the entire Brigade of cadets march on Saturday mornings. But, they were not able to definitively pick out the Black cadet. They reported that they had seen several who looked like they could be Black. Doctor Waller said that he had also watched the cadets marching on Saturday mornings and  he believed that several cadets with very dark tans could have been mistaken for a Black cadet. They all had shaven heads, and some were darker than Merle Smith. He mentioned Anthony Carbone, Donnie Winchester, and Tony Alejandro.

(Doctor William Waller, Chemistry Professor at the Coast Guard Academy)

When Black spectators from the New London community came to watch the corps of cadets march in parade, they frequently mistook Anthony Carbone and Donnie Winchester as the possible Black cadet. Carbone was an Italian, and Winchester was a Native American. They both had considerably darker complexions and more course facial features than Merle Smith.

    (The Chief Scout at the Coast Guard Academy was Captain Otto Graham, pictured above)  Captain Graham was the Academy’s Athletic Director. He was formerly the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns professional football team. While at the Academy, Captain Graham set many records. After Merle J. Smith, Jr was recruited, the Academy Football Team went undefeated in the 1963 season.                                                                                                                                                              

(Pictured above, are some of the members of the 1963 Varsity Football Team. Number 83 is Merle Smith.)

Was that a coincidence or was it in part due to the addition to the team of  Number 83, a wide receiver and defensive tackle from Maryland by the name of Merle Smith?

    (Pictured above is Ensign Merle James Smith, Junior)

 

On June 8, 1966, the US Coast Guard Academy in New London graduated the first African American student, Ensign Merle James Smith, Jr. Smith received a Bachelor of Science degree as part of a class of 113 cadets. The Coast Guard Academy began in 1876 on the topsail schooner Dobbin and moved to its present location in New London, Connecticut, in 1932. – See more at: http://connecticuthistory.org/academy-graduates-first-african-american-student-today-in-history/#sthash.KMltQkUo.dpuf

(Pictured below, Colonel Merle James Smith, Senior, presents his son, Ensign Merle James Smith II, his Graduation Certificate and his Officer’s Commission at the Graduation Ceremony in New London, CT in 1966)

(Pictured in the background is Admiral Willard J. Smith, The Academy Superintendent)

ADM Willard J. Smith served as the 13th Coast Guard Commandant from 1966-1970. He was the first aviator to hold the rank of Commandant Of The Coast Guard, the Coast Guard’s highest-ranking position.

 http://connecticuthistory.org/academy-graduates-first-african-american-student-today-in-history/

On a warm sunny day in May 1966, Merle James Smith, Junior, became the first American of African Ancestry to graduate from the United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, Connecticut.

Upon graduation he was first assigned a the Communications Officer aboard he USCGC Minnetonka, a 255-foot medium endurance law enforcement vessel. Later he was promoted to the post of Operations Officer.

Because of his exceptional performance of duty and expert leadership abilities onboard the CGC Minnetonka, Ensign Smith was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade), and given command of his own ship, the 82 foot Patrol Boat, the CGC Cape Wash. The Cape Wash was home ported in Monterey, California.

On or about 1970, after being promoted to the rank of Full Lieutenant, LT Smith was given orders to the War Zone in Viet Nam.

In Vietnam, LT Smith was to command two vessels, the CGC Point Mast and the CGC Point Ellis. LT Smith and vessels under his command directed more than eighty Naval Fire Support Missions. He participated in support operation mission, called Operation Market Time.

In another mission, called Operation Sea Lords, LT Smith’s vessel accounted for the destruction of ten enemy bunkers, four rocket launchers, thirteen structures, and nineteen Sampans.

Commander Smith has many awards and medals. His decorations include The Bronze Star With A “V” For Valor, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Citation, the Presidential Unit Citation,, the Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry, and many other awards and decorations.

CDR Smith is the first American sea service officer  of African Ancestry to command an American Federal vessel in combat, and to receive the Bronze Star.

When he returned from combat service in Vietnam, CDR Smith was assigned to the International Affairs Division at Coast Guard Headquarters, in  the Volpe Building, at 7th and D Street, SW, Washington, DC.

He attended the National Law Center at George Washington University. In 1975 after completing Law School he was awarded his Juris Doctorate Degree. He then received a new assignment. He became the Deputy Chief of The Coast Guard Military Justice Division.

He retired from Active Duty in 1999. He lives in New London, Connecticut with his wife, Dr. Linda Blackmann Smith, and their two children; Merle Smith , the Third, and Chelsea.

In 2006 while teaching law at the Academy CDR Smith was retained as the Individual Military Counsel (IMC) for Cadet Webster Smith who became the first Coast Guard Academy cadet to be court-martial in the history of the Coast Guard Academy. CDR Smith is no relation to Cadet Webster Smith. Cadet Webster Smith was detailed a Navy Judge Advocate Ggeneral (JAG) officer as his detailed military counsel. The Individual Military Counsel is the lead counsel. He is a civilian and he is in charge of the defense team.

CDR Smith received a Pioneer Award. What does that mean? A “Pioneer” is a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others.

The Award could have been called the Trailblazer Award. Trailblazer is a synonym for Pioneer. The term trailblazer signifies those who strike out on a new path or break new ground, either literally or symbolically, using skills of innovation or brave constitutions to conduct their lives off the beaten path. Often known for independent thought, rugged individualism and pioneering ways, trailblazers throughout history have included cutting-edge inventors, explorers and healers. Trailblazers throughout history all have shared an innovative spirit that kept them going when told their endeavors would be fruitless or against impossible odds. All have made their mark on history and mankind by refusing to quit and pushing ahead, most often into uncharted territory. When Merle James Smith entered the Coast Guard Academy in June 1962 he was sailing into uncharted waters. He had no chart, compass or navigator; yet, he reached his destination.

In 2007 CDR Smith was inducted into the Coast Guard Academy’s Hall of Heroes. On November 08, 2014, another member of the Class of 1966 was also inducted into the Hall of Heroes. He was CDR James Ellis. On that day the Pentagon, the Defense Department and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave an award to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy for its support of the Vietnam War.

 http://www.theday.com/military/20141108/heroes-have-their-day-at-cga_

Standing next to CDR Ellis after the ceremony, CDR Smith said, “He’s the same guy. He hasn’t changed a bit. I have always respected him and liked him.”

“It’s particularly challenging for us to have gone to a place like Vietnam where you can’t even speak the language of the people that you are trying to save, but you go and do it anyway,” CDR Smith said.

CDR Ellis acknowledged after the ceremony that those who served in Vietnam were beginning to get recognized for their service, but “it’s 50 years later.”

http://newbrunswick.archivalweb.com/scans/USCGAA/The%20Bulletin/Volume%2069%20%282007%29/2007-06_Volume%2069_No.03_030.pdf

CDR Smith has served as an adjunct Professor of Law at the Coast Guard Academy. He also served as the Legal Counsel for General Dynamics, Electric Boat.

In February, 1976 the Coast Guard Academy announced the appointments of female cadets to enter with the Class of 1980. Fourteen women  graduated as part of the Academy’s Class of 1980.

In 1991 a Women’s Advisory Council was established.

In 2000 the Coast Guard  promoted its first female officer to Rear Admiral. She was Captain Vivien S. Crea. She was not an Academy graduate.

In 2009 CAPT Sandra L. Stosz was promoted to Rear Admiral, becoming the first female graduate of the Coast Guard Academy to reach flag rank.

The Coast Guard was the first Military Service Academy to select a woman superintendent of the academy.  Rear Adm. Sandra L. Stosz, Coast Guard Director of Reserve and Leadership, was selected as Superintendent of the Academy. Rear Admiral Stosz graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in the Class of 1982.

In 2008 the Academy hosted a free, public Women’s Equality Day information fair on August 26 in Munro Hall at the Academy.

Each year since 1971, when President Jimmy Carter designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day, the United States has recognized the struggle for equal rights for women.

The Coast Guard Academy celebrates the event with the theme “Strengthening Our Communities” by hosting various Coast Guard and regional community groups on campus.

“This was billed as a great opportunity for members of our Coast Guard and surrounding New London community to network and learn from the organizations that help support and strengthen Academy leadership,” said LTJG Colleen Jones, Assistant Civil Rights Officer at the Academy and the event organizer.

The various organizations in attendance were the Greater New Haven National Organization of Women, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Connecticut, National Naval Officers Association, Academy Women, Toastmasters, CG Educational Services, CG Child Development Center, and the League of Women Voters.

April 09, 2016 Regimental Review in honor of CDR Merle James Smith, Jr. USCGA (Ret.) and 13 Gun Salute.

Categories: American History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Webster Smith Case, Another American Tragedy

85349-cgaweb6

The Court-martial Of Cadet Webster Smith.

The Webster Smith case was a litmus test for justice in America. Every once in a while a case comes along that puts our humanity as a people, and as Americans, on trial. Everything that we profess to stand for as Americans was on trial. Our sense of Justice in America and particularly in the U. S. Military was on trial. This was no ordinary trial. Our humanity was on trial. Our system of justice was on trial. This case dissolved the deceptive façade and exposed certain moral deficiencies in our system of justice.

On Dec. 4, 2005 an officer on duty at the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) received an allegation of sexual misconduct from a cadet, setting off an inquiry by the Coast Guard Investigative Services (CGIS), based in Washington, D.C..

The commandant of cadets, Captain Douglas Wisniewski, took immediate action to initiate the investigation into these allegations.

Sexual misconduct at the USCGA is defined as “acts that disgrace or bring discredit on the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Academy and are sexual in nature,  including lewd or lascivious acts, indecent exposure or homosexual conduct.”

But the definition also includes consensual acts that are prohibited on Academy grounds, such as holding hands, kissing in public or having sex.

Cadet First Class Webster Smith was charged with sexually assaulting six female cadets in Chase Hall, the cadet living quarters at the United States Coast Guard Academy, and in other locations.

An Article 32 Investigation was convened on March 21, 2006 to determine whether there was probable cause to convene a court-martial to prosecute the charges. The Investigating Officer received the testimony of seven female cadets who accused Cadet Smith of assaulting them between May and November 2005.

The USCGA Superintendent, Admiral James Van Sice, decided to refer the charges against Cadet Smith to a General Court-martial. In his opening statement to the Jury Panel on June 26, 2006 the prosecutor described Cadet Smith as a manipulative senior who preyed on lonely women.

Cadet  Smith of Houston, Texas pleaded not guilty in the first court-martial of a cadet in Coast Guard Academy history. The charges ranged from rape, sodomy, and extortion to assault of the female cadets.

Cadet Smith was tried before a jury panel of Coast Guard officers including four white men, one white woman, three Black men and a man of Asian descent. The senior member was a captain with command experience. There were no cadets on the panel. Since there were no cadets on the jury panel, it can truly be asked whether he was afforded a jury of his peers. Were the best qualified members appointed to the panel, as the Manual For Courts-martial (MCM) and UCMJ mandate?

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), (10 USC sec.801 et seq.) supplemented by the Manual For Courts-martial (MCM) provides guidance for a commander empowered to convene a court-martial. The UCMJ and the MCM both contain the following sentence:

When convening a court-martial the convening authority shall detail as members thereof, such members of the armed forces as, in his opinion, are best qualified for the duty by reason of age, education, training, experience, length of service, and judicial temperament”. (UCMJ Art. 25(d)(2).

I, LCDR London Steverson, USCG (Ret.) have made this or a similar argument many times while defending service members in courts-martial. None of the members of Webster Smith’s jury panel had been a cadet at the USCGA while female cadets were living in Chase Hall. Only one had ever attended the USCGA; none had socialized with female cadet; none had attended cadet athletic parties; none had read the cadet regulations; none had counseled a cadet concerning sexual assault; none had first-hand experience with the four class system; none had indoctrinated female cadets; and none had ever had a girl friend who was the first female brigade commander, who got pregnant, had an abortion, and continued to date the putative father for another six months before she was counseled by Coast Guard lawyers that she might have been raped at some point during her 18 month relationship with the accused in this court-martial.

If, at least, one cadet had been on that jury, he could have explained to the members during deliberations many of the things that they were completely ignorant of. I contend that the jury did not have a clue as to what living conditions were like in Chase Hall, nor did they know what the social environment was like between Black male upper-class cadets and white female cadets in any of the four classes.

That being the case, the jury was not composed of the best qualified people available in accordance with the UCMJ and Art 25(d)(2).

On June 28, 2006 after about eight hours of deliberation, the panel found Cadet Webster Smith guilty of indecent assault, extortion in exchange for sexual favors and sodomy, which in military parlance includes oral sex. All those charges involved one of the four accusers.

Cadet Smith was sentenced to be separated form the service and to spend six months in jail at a Navy brig.

This was not a rape case. Many senior Coast Guard officers tried to portray it as such. Webster Smith was not and is not a rapist. The court-martial, with all of its faults, proved that this was not a rape case.

Neither was Webster Smith a sexual predator as he was called. He simply refused to stay on his side of the color-line. Someone felt that a message had to be sent; a lesson had to be taught. Just as East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet; the Coast Guard Academy was not going to become a breeding ground for miscegenation.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of the conviction  of Webster Smith, the only Coast Guard Academy cadet ever  court-martialed.

Smith had sought a Supreme Court review based largely on the argument  that he had not been able to question the credibility of one of his  accusers, known only as Cadet SR.

Smith’s attorneys wanted a chance to question the female cadet  because, according to a legal brief, she had lied about the consensual  nature of a previous sexual encounter with an enlisted man, contrary to  Coast Guard rules and possibly jeopardizing her military career. The  female cadet claimed Smith used knowledge of her previous dalliance to  extort sexual favors from her.

“The defense maintained that the two cadets’ sexual encounter was  consensual and that SR was fabricating her accusations because the  encounter occurred in Chase Hall, the Academy dormitory, where sexual  activity is prohibited by cadet regulations,” according to a brief in  the case.

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces’ (CAAF) minority opinion, including Chief Judge C.J. Effron, agreed that  Smith’s attorneys should have been allowed to question the female cadet.  In a dissenting opinion, they said Smith’s “allegation that SR had  previously lied about a sexual encounter” was relevant to the case.

Why was Cadet 1st Class Webster Smith investigated, charged, tried, and convicted? Why must this talented young man register as a sexual offender for the remainder of his life? Why did he not find any justice in the military justice system? How could his case go through the entire appeal’s process and end up at the United States Supreme Court without being granted any relief? Why would Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security refuse to grant clemency in a case that clearly cries out for justice?  (Get the answer. Read:

http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-Conviction/dp/1460978021)

At this point in history when America had come far enough to elect a Black President why was this shining example of the best and the brightest of the African Americans of his generation denied the equal protection of the law? Why was he relegated to the second rail of military justice? On the second rail one receives “almost equal protection“.  Like much else in the law, equal protection is a myth for America’s citizens of color. The myth gives one the illusion of fairness.

Could the answer have anything to do with the nature of the criminal justice system or the definition of crime?  Crime is a legal concept, and the law creates the crimes it punishes. But, what creates the criminal law?  Behind the law, above it, and surrounding it is our society. Before the law made certain behavior a crime, some aspect of social reality transformed certain behavior into a crime.

Justice is blind in the abstract. It cannot see or act on its own. It cannot create its own morals, principles and rules. That depends on society. Behind every legal determination of “guilty” lies a more powerful and more basic social and societal judgement, a judgement that this type of behavior is not acceptable. This type of behavior deserves to be prohibited and punished. Our society has long chosen to prohibit and punish interracial sex.

After society makes a social judgement that certain behavior, acts, or conduct is wrong, the criminal justice system goes to work. It refines and transforms the list of prohibited acts and behavior. It interprets the list of acts, and does whatever is necessary to catch, convict and punish the lawbreakers.

Bias is inevitable. Crime and punishment are highly charged, emotional, and political subjects. There is no way to wring prejudice, attitude, or race out of the system.

 The Webster Smith Story Is An American Tragedy.

The Webster Smith Story is an American tragedy. It is not just the story of a Black Coast Guard Academy cadet; it is the story of an American family. It is the story of his mother, Belinda; and his father, Cleon; his wife, Lindsey and their daughter; and of his sister and brothers. It is the story of the friends of Webster Smith. They have all been harmed by the violence directed at their son, brother, husband, father and friend.

At the Coast Guard Academy, Webster Smith was a member of the Eclipse, Track Team, Football team, Regimental Staff, and a Swab summer Staff. He represented the Coast Guard in Washington DC concerning fitness and nutrition programs. He received numerous silver stars and never received a demerit prior the incident and investigation in 2005 that led to his court-martial.

To his classmates, teachers, and coaches Webster Smith appeared to be a magnetic, charming and gifted man, who had risen above his circumstances. Yet, in a moment, as if in the twinkling of an eye, a swift series of events diminished his popularity, vilified his name, and assailed his honor. His image was converted by senior Coast Guard officers from a popular athlete and nice guy to that of a sexual predator and public enemy number one at the Coast Guard Academy.

Webster Smith had dared to dream some big dreams. Like Alex Haley he had dared to believe that he could rise in the USCG to the highest level to which his talents and initiative could take him.

His parents were middle class African Americans. His father, Cleon Smith, was a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy in the Class of 1978 along with Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown.

His mother, Belinda Ingram Smith, believed in God and a good education. After attending college at WSSU for four years she went on to become the first Black female Crime Scene Investigator in the history of the Winston-Salem police Department.

This unbelievable turn about in what had been a Black success story is a singularly American tragedy.

That a cadet so deeply respected and loved by his coaches and classmates could evoke such an outpouring of hate and anger from the senior officers at the Coast Guard Academy is a Coast Guard tragedy and an American tragedy.

All of the female cadets involved with and associated with Webster Smith escaped clean without any consequences for their actions or their behavior. Mother Nature was the only one who exacted a penalty. Natural Law resulted in a pregnancy for his girlfriend. An abortion followed.

If women are equal, they should be treated as equal. Not a single woman was disciplined under the UCMJ or the cadet regulations. All of the female cadets involved in the Webster Smith case graduated and were commissioned as Coast Guard officers. Their testimony at the court-martial painted a picture of female cadets who were untrustworthy, arrogant, and certainly not ladies. Their conduct was unbecoming an officer and a lady. (Read more at http://www.judgelondonsteverson.com)

These women were witnesses at a public trial yet they were accorded the equivalent of rape shield protection. This was not a rape case. Not one of the women had been raped. There was testimony of consensual sex acts. Some of the consensual sex acts were unlawful because, among other things, they occurred in Chase Hall, or at Academy functions. How could unlawful consensual sex acts result in charges against only one of the participants? It takes two to tango.

Is it wrong for Black people to ask if there is a double standard? Would that amount to paranoia on the part of Black people? Or would that be considered playing the race card simply to inquire? Is it absurd to believe that anything more than pure chance resulted in the court-martial of Webster Smith? The fact that he was court-martialed speaks to a social reality that African-Americans are acutely aware of in America. Race is not a card to be dealt, but it determines whom the dealer is and who gets dealt a losing hand.

According to a 2008 General Accounting Office Report, from 2003 to 2006 there were NO sexual-harassment complaints at the Coast Guard Academy, but there were 12 incidents of sexual assault reported to the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), with one incident in 2003, one in 2004, “NONE” in 2005 and 10 in 2006. It is hard to conceive of the facts relied upon by, Captain Douglas Wisniewski, the Commandant Of Cadets when he asserted in 2005 that there was a climate of fear of sexual assault in Chase Hall.

The 10 incidents reported in 2006 would appear to have occurred after the Webster Smith court-martial. Webster Smith was removed from Chase Hall in 2005. Who was doing all of the sexual assaulting in 2006? Why were none of these people brought to justice? They could have been tried along with Webster Smith.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of Webster Smith. The justices declined to hear the case without comment. The decision of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) became the final decision in the case.

Thirteen female cadets and 11 males at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (CGA) reported anonymously in an April 2008 survey that they experienced “unwanted sexual contact,” ranging from touching to forced sexual acts, during the 2007-08 school year.

More than three-quarters said that alcohol or drugs were involved and that the offender was a fellow cadet.

None of the women sought professional help and only 7 percent discussed the incident with authorities.

When Alexander Hamilton organized the Revenue Cutter Service in 1790 it was established in the Department of the Treasury. Later it became known as the Coast Guard. In 1966 it was placed in the Department of Transportation. Today it is the nucleus of the Department of Homeland Security. Webster Smith’s case is currently being reviewed for clemency by the Secretary of the Department of Home Land Security, Janet Napolitano.

Webster Smith would have made an excellent military officer. It is Webster Smith and people like him that I want on the wall as our last line of defense for our American way of life protecting us from the great unwashed horde that is coming. Secretary Napolitano who do you want on that wall?

When the Supreme Court rejected Smith’s petition seeking a  hearing on the case, it effectively made the CAAF’s  decision the final decision in the case.

(By USALJ-ret. )

 

Categories: militaryNjustice | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

London Steverson U S Coast Guard

First, a big SALUTE to LCDR Sea Williams, USCG; she is the driving force behind the corrections and updates to our Official African Americans in the U.S. Coast Guard Chronology History list!

Her recent behind the scenes hard work resulted in “two” recordings into our USCG History for the Honorable Retired Judge London Steverson, (LCDR, USCG, RET)! BZ LCDR Williams!

 http://www.uscg.mil/history/uscghist/African_American_Chronology.asp

 http://www.cgaalumni.org/s/1043/index_1col.aspx?sid=1043&gid=1&pgid=1290

 

And of course, the sharpest SALUTE I can render, is being given to the Honorable Judge Steverson! He has done so much that has benefited so many, not just in the USCG, but for mankind period! If any of you haven’t done so by now, please Google his name to see all the good he has done and continue to do (and check out his blogs-they all make for good reading with nothing but the cold, hard truth).

https://www.blogger.com/home

 

 He’s a true warrior! May God continue to Bless our USCG Living Legend! 

http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-Conviction/dp/1460978021

 http://www.amazon.com/socialNsecurity-Confessions-Social-Security-Judge/dp/1449569757

 https://www.facebook.com/notes/london-steverson/for-the-love-of-books/289342491135591?ref=nf

 

Newest addition to our USCG Black History as of 7/16/2014: 

 

1972: In July 1972, LT London Steverson became the chief of the newly formed Minority Recruiting Section in the Washington, D.C. During his assignment as Chief of the Minority Recruiting Section he led the largest minority officer recruiting effort (recorded at the time) by recruiting more than 50 minority Coast Guard Academy cadets in a two-year period from 1973 to 1974.

 

1988: LCDR London Steverson became the first African-American Coast Guard Academy graduate to retire from the Coast Guard. He was the second African-American graduate of the Academy.

 

http://www.powells.com/biblio/9781155406800

United States Coast Guard Academy Alumni: London Steverson, G. William Miller, Thad Allen, James Loy, Bruce E. Melnick, Harvey E. Johnson, JR.

United States Coast Guard Academy Alumni: London Steverson, G. William Miller, Thad Allen, James Loy, Bruce E. Melnick, Harvey E. Johnson, JR. Cover

ISBN13: 9781155406800

 ISBN10: 115540680x

 0  19  0  0  21

 

 

 All publicity is good. There is no such thing as bad publicity. It is better to be attacked and slandered than to be ignored. You must not discriminate between the different types of attention. In the end, all attention will work to your favor. Welcome personal attacks and feel no need to defend yourself. Court controversy, even scandal. Never be afraid or ashamed of the qualities that set you apart or draw attention to you. Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in a crowd, or buried in oblivion. Stand out; be conspicuous at all costs. Make yourself a magnet for attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious, than the bland and the timid masses.
Burning more brightly than those around you is a skill that no one is born with. You have to learn to attract attention. At the start of your career, you have to attach your name and your reputation to a quality or an image that sets you apart from other people. This image can be something characteristic like a style of dress, or a personality quirk that amuses people and gets you talked about. Once the image is established, you have an appearance, a place in the sky for your star. Attack the sensational, the false, the scandalous, and the politically correct. Keep reinventing yourself. Once you are in the limelight you have to renew it by reinventing ways to court attention.
People feel superior to people whose actions they can predict or control. If you show them who is in control by playing against their expectations, you will gain their respect and tighten your hold on their fleeting attention. Society craves people who stand apart from general mediocrity.

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Chapters:

 London Steverson, G. William Miller, Thad Allen, James Loy, Bruce E. Melnick, Harvey E. Johnson, Jr., Erroll M. Brown, James C. Van Sice, Chester R. Bender, Peter Boynton, J. William Kime, Charles D. Wurster, Owen W. Siler, Daniel C. Burbank, Thomas H. Collins, Paul A. Yost, Jr., John B. Hayes, Willard J. Smith, Timothy S. Sullivan, William D. Baumgartner, Thomas T. Matteson, Terry M. Cross, Steven H. Ratti, Edwin J. Roland, Robert E. Kramek, Billy Tauzin III, James S. Gracey, George Naccara. Free updates online. Purchase includes a free trial membership in the publisher’s book club where you can select from more than a million books without charge. Excerpt: 

 

  London Eugene Livingston Steverson (born March 13, 1947) was one of the first two African Americans to graduate from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1968.

Later, as chief of the newly formed Minority Recruiting Section of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), he was charged with desegregating the Coast Guard Academy by recruiting minority candidates.

 He retired from the Coast Guard in 1988.

 

In 1990 was appointed to the bench as a Federal Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Social Security Administration. Steverson was born and raised in Millington, Tennessee, the oldest of three children of Jerome and Ruby Steverson.

At the age of 5 he was enrolled in the E. A. Harrold elementary school in a segregated school system. He later attended the all black Woodstock High School in Memphis, Tennessee, graduating valedictorian.

A Presidential Executive Order issued by President Truman had desegregated the armed forces in 1948, but the service academies were lagging in officer recruiting.

President Kennedy specifically challenged the United States Coast Guard Academy to tender appointments to Black high school students. London Steverson was one of the Black students to be offered such an appointment.

Synopsis:

Purchase includes free access to book updates online and a free trial membership in the publisher’s book club where you can select from more than a million books without charge.

Chapters: 

London Steverson, G. William Miller, Thad Allen, James Loy, Bruce E. Melnick, Harvey E. Johnson, Jr., Erroll M. Brown, James C. Van Sice, Chester R. Bender, Peter Boynton, J. William Kime, Charles D. Wurster, Owen W. Siler, Daniel C. Burbank, Thomas H. Collins, Paul A. Yost, Jr., John B. Hayes, Willard J. Smith

 

Categories: Coast Guard Cases | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Affirmative Action Works

Affirmative Action works. Public opinion polls suggest that most Americans support affirmative action, especially when the polls avoid an all-or-none choice between affirmative action as it currently exists and no affirmative action whatsoever.

Say it loud, “I’m Black and I’m proud!“. Obama was the first Black President. And Obama is the first Affirmative Action President.

Many of America’s “Black Firsts” were allowed to become “Firsts” because of Affirmative Action. By any other name, it would be the same. Ability without opportunity is wasted. It is futile and unproductive to have a talent and never get the opportunity to use it for the benefit of humanity.

When many others are as qualified for a coveted position and a Black or other minority group person is chosen for the position, there is a strong possibility that Affirmative Action played a part in the selection. That is nothing to be ashamed of.

Jackie Robinson was the first Black professional major league baseball player. Jackie Robinson was an Affirmative Action Baby.

http://www.jackierobinson.com/

Thurgood Marshall was the first Black lawyer appointed to be an Associate Justice of the U S Supreme Court. President Lyndon Baines Johnson made Justice Marshall an Affirmative Action Baby.

http://www.biography.com/people/thurgood-marshall-9400241

Johnson claimed that the reason he did not run for another term as President was because he had lost all of his Southern Support because he appointed Marshall to the Supreme Court; as the Southern politicians said, “it was because he put his nigger on the Court”.

So, the escalation of the Viet Nam War had nothing to do with Johnson pulling out of the Presidential Race.

Wilt Chamberlain was an Affirmative Action Baby. Chamberlain and Bill Russell were the First Black superstar NBA Basketball players.

http://www.nba.com/history/players/chamberlain_summary.html

Wilt was a pretty good student. He was capable of a gentlemanly “C”, as was said about President John F. Kennedy.

I was an Affirmative Action Baby.

Like Wilt, I was capable of a gentlemanly “C”, but I got mostly A’s and B’s.

http://www.powells.com/biblio/9781155406800

I was the beneficiary of a program designed to redress the effects of past discrimination. So were Jackie Robinson, Wilt Chamberlain, Constance Baker Motley, Spottswood Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, Eric Holder, and President Barack Obama; and so are many Americans of African descent who were pioneers in their fields.

http://www.understandingprejudice.org/readroom/articles/affirm.htm

Job discrimination is grounded in prejudice and exclusion, whereas affirmative action is an effort to overcome prejudicial treatment through inclusion. The most effective way to cure society of exclusionary practices is to make special efforts at inclusion, which is exactly what affirmative action does. The logic of affirmative action is no different than the logic of treating a nutritional deficiency with vitamin supplements. For a healthy person, high doses of vitamin supplements may be unnecessary or even harmful, but for a person whose system is out of balance, supplements are an efficient way to restore the body’s balance.

Some may take umbrage or offense at my use of the term because it has become so politically charged and may not be politically correct; however, Affirmative Action works. It is easier to implement than Reparations.

Affirmative Action allows America to make a partial down-payment on a debt owed to the children of the builders of America. To many it is a dirty word or two, but Reparations would not sound as sweet. Germany paid the Jews; America paid the Japanese; and America will have to pay the children of the African slaves who built America’s wealth, if Affirmative Action is abandoned. How else will we make up for past discrimination against African Americans?

Categories: American History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown Has A Thousand Fathers

It is said that success has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan.

 

Manson Brown has a thousand fathers. He is a living success story in every sense of the word.

His natural father, the late Manson Brown Junior, was proud of him.

 

His Coast Guard father, London Steverson, recruited him out of St. John’s Prep School in Washington, D.C. and wanted him to become Commandant of the U. S. Coast Guard.

His professional fathers, U.S. Transportation Secretaries Rodney E. Slater and Norman Y. Mineta are challenged him with cutting-edged assignments.

 

In 2003, he was Chief of Officer Personnel Management at the Coast Guard Personnel Command when Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta called, explaining that Ambassador to Iraq PaulBremer needed “a transportation guy” in Baghdad. Bremer was the Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. In actuality that made Ambassador Bremer the President of Iraq and Admiral Brown became his Secretary of Transportation.

In Baghdad, Brown was the Senior Advisor for Transportation to the Coalition Provisional Authority, overseeing restoration of transportation systems throughout Iraq.  The air lines were not flying; the trains were not running, and all ports were closed to shipping. In a matter of three months Admiral Brown and his team were able to get Iraqi Airways flying again, and to open all ports for shipping. Moreover, the trains were not only running, but they were running on time.

 

His spiritual father, Admiral Robert Papp is proud of him. Papp means priest in Hungarian; so, his last boss and father confessor came from a family of priests. At Vice Admiral Brown’s retirement ceremony, his Spiritual Father preached to the choir. He told a parable; it was a Parable of Hope. He was describing how any child from any inner city ghetto or poverty hole in America can come into the Coast Guard and rise to the highest level or authority and responsibility that his talent, diligence and initiative will take him.

Manson Brown’s life is a parable; it is a story of hope for Black children every where in America that anyone can make it in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. America is truly the Land of Opportunity and Hope for anyone who will apply their innate God-given talents to study, to learn, and to excel.

Admiral Papp, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, described Brown as a friend and mentor. Earlier in their careers, the two officers commuted together to their office in Washington. During one conversation on the way to work, they talked about officer promotions and assignments. Papp said he was surprised when Brown pointed out that bias kept some Black officers from advancement.

All of us human beings, whether we admit it or not, have our own biases,” Papp said. “He opened my eyes to those biases and made me look harder to make sure that we are a balanced and diverse service.”

Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., the Coast Guard Commandant, said that Brown had stood on the shoulders of Black officers before him and that those who follow owe Brown a debt for his service. Brown played a crucial role in developing the careers of minorities in the Coast Guard, Papp added.

“While we still have a long way to go, I credit Manson Brown for speaking truth to power,” Papp said.

 

In recent years, Brown led a Coast Guard effort to improve sexual assault prevention and outreach. A civil engineer by training, he also oversaw recovery operations after Hurricane Sandy wrought $270 million in damage to Coast Guard property, Papp said.

All of the other members of the USCGA Class of 1978 are proud of him.

Every officer and enlisted member of the USCG is proud of him, because had it not been for Manson Brown the USCG may not have a Headquarters in Washington, DC.

The construction of a massive new headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security, billed as critical for national security and the revitalization of Southeast Washington, is running more than $1.5 billion over budget, is 11 years behind schedule and may never be completed, according to planning documents and federal officials.

With the exception of the Coast Guard Headquarters building that opened in 2013, most of the DHS site remains entirely undeveloped. The present estimated completion date of 2026 is being reconsidered with a view towards 2030, or later; and, possibly even never.

 Vice Admiral Manson Brown saved the Coast Guard and the relocation of Coast Guard Headquarters. This was his last major project in the years before he retired. Now, DHS, may wish their agency had a man like Manson K. Brown.


VADM Brown retired on May 14, 2014 as Deputy Commandant for Mission Support and Commander of Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington,DC. Perhaps if he could have been persuaded to stay around for a few more years he could have overseen the transition and move of the DHS Headquarters to the new site. But, they would probably have had to make him Commandant of the Coast Guard to do that.

Instead, on behalf of a grateful Nation, and the entire Coast Guard we wished him fair skies, favorable winds and following seas in his well deserved retirement.

 

 

 

ice Adm. Manson K. Brown, the deputy commandant for mission support, and Master Chief Petty Officer Richard Hooker tour the construction site of the newly constructed Coast Guard Headquarters here June 28, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Tamargo – See more at: http://allhands.coastguard.dodlive.mil/2014/05/14/after-36-years-of-service-vadm-manson-k-brown-retires-from-active-duty/dcms/#sthash.XBrxWQcr.dpuf

(Above VADM Manson K. Brown, Deputy Commandant for Mission Support, and Master Chief Richard Hooker tour the construction site for the new Coast Guard Headquarters on June 28, 2012.)

(U. S. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Petty Officer  2nd Class Timothy Tamargo)

 

Brown said his achievements would not have been possible without the legacy forged by the first Black officers in the early years of the Coast Guard.

“When I saw him (LT London Steverson) at the front door in full uniform, a Black man, I saw a vision for the future. He convinced my mother to let me visit the (U S Coast Guard) Academy and I was hooked, Brown said.”

At first, Brown’s mother was reluctant to let him join the military as war raged in Vietnam, he said at the ceremony.

 

 

But then London Steverson, the second Black graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (Class of 1968), visited the Brown family home in Ward 4.

“I convinced his mother that her son would not be taken advantage of and would not be a token” black student at the academy, Steverson said. “He was the best of the best. I knew that he could survive.”

 

After graduating from St. John’s College High School in the District, Brown enrolled in the Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 1978, headed to a life patrolling the seas even though he didn’t know how to swim. As a cadet, one of his first assignments was to learn basic strokes.

He later helped create a campus network for minority students at the school. In 1977, he became the first African American to lead the U.S. Coast Guard Academy corps of cadets, the Coast Guard’s student body.

“The vast majority of my career, people embraced me for my passion and ability,” Brown said. When incidents of racism arose, “I decided to confront it at its face.”

 

Serving aboard the USCGC Glacier (WAGB-4), an icebreaker, during his first assignment as a young officer, Brown said he had to confront racism almost immediately. He noticed that one older white subordinate, a popular chief petty officer, seemed agitated by his presence. Brown decided to settle the matter face to face.

“He said there was no way he was going to work for a Black man,” Brown said. “My head pounded with anger and frustration.”

But other enlisted leaders on the ship rallied behind Brown. Throughout the rest of his career, Brown was recognized for his inspirational leadership and zeal.

Growing up in the inner city

Brown grew up in northwest Washington, DC. “My parents both worked. We were a middle-class family who lived in the inner city. My mother and father promoted strong family values in a very threatening, conflicted environment. My dad worked three jobs to send us to private school.

 

“Most of the guys I grew up with are no longer with us,” he observes. “One friend of mine went into the Air Force and I joined the Coast Guard. The military was our ticket to better opportunities.”

 

Brown attended the academically rigorous St. John’s College High School in DC. His approach to choosing a college was to pick up every brochure on the guidance counselor’s rack. “I got interest cards for whatever was there and mailed them all out. It was a blind draw.”

 

Hooked on the Coast Guard

Brown was personally recruited to the Coast Guard Academy (USCGA, New London, CT) by then Lieutenant London Steverson, the second African American USCGA graduate. “Of all the people courting me, he was the only one who came to the house. When I saw him at the front door in full uniform, a Black man, I saw a vision for the future,” Brown states. “He convinced my mother to let me visit the campus and I was hooked.”

 

Brown entered the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1974. “My class started with 400 students and graduated 167,” Brown says. “Of twenty-two African Americans at the beginning, six graduated. A lot of that was academic challenge, but a lot was also cultural challenge. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were pioneers in a process to transform the Academy culture to become more supportive of diversity.”

 

He continues, “I had gone to a predominantly white high school so I had already been through the acculturation process. That was probably an advantage I had over my African American classmates at the Academy.”

 

His original interest was in Marine Science but he missed the cut. Instead, he got his second choice: civil engineering. Brown admits, “At that time, all I knew was that it was about building buildings, but it turned out to be pretty useful.

 

“I look at system problems like an engineer,” he says. “I found discipline in the engineering profession. Even today, my approach to problem solving uses the FADE process: focus, analyze, develop and execute.”

 

He graduated from the USCGA in 1978. Brown knew that he did not want to go back to DC. “I knew that to survive, I had to leave,” he says. “It was a mature thought at an immature age.”

 

Brown has since earned two masters degrees, in civil engineering in 1985 from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and in national resources strategy in 1999 from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF, now the Eisenhower School at National Defense University, Washington, DC).

 

On being a leader

“I always had a technical inclination. But when I got to the Coast Guard Academy, all the personality profiles said that I was geared toward the soft sciences. Even though I love being an engineer, my passion rests with people so maybe the sociologists were right,” he says with a laugh.

 

Brown mentors “the long blue line,” working hard to help people who are coming up the ranks. “I’m proactive with groups like the civilian advisory board, women’s groups, African Americans, Asians, and Hispanic groups. I’ve shared time with them and stated how important they are to me. From them I get the feedback that when I am visible and successful, they feel empowered.”

 

Exciting assignments mark a career

Brown has enjoyed several challenging, high-profile assignments during his thirty-six-year Coast Guard career.

From 1999 to 2002 he was the military assistant to the secretary of transportation, when the Coast Guard was still part of the Department of Transportation. “I was in that job for 9/11. After that, I became acting deputy chief of staff for that department.”

He assumed positions of responsibility in Florida, Hawaii and California, where he oversaw counter-narcotics trafficking missions and other operations spanning 73 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean. He served as the military assistant to two U.S. secretaries of transportation and spent three months in Iraq in 2004, leading the restoration of two major ports.

 

In 2003, he was chief of officer personnel management at the Coast Guard Personnel Command when Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta called, explaining that Ambassador to Iraq Paul Bremerneeded “a transportation guy” in Baghdad in two weeks. Bremer was the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. He was essentially the president of Iraq at that time,” Brown notes, “and I was his secretary of transportation.”

 

In Baghdad, Brown was the senior advisor for transportation to the Coalition Provisional Authority, overseeing restoration of transportation systems throughout Iraq. “I followed the FADE process every step of the way. We got Iraqi Airways flying again the last week I was there. We got the trains running and the ports open. I was there for three months, and three months in a war zone is like three years anywhere else. I was a ‘gap guy’ until they found someone else because I didn’t want to walk away from my Coast Guard career.”

 

Reflecting and learning

“I learned so much about America in a crisis and I respect what we tried to do. I have nothing but respect for the Iraqi people and what they went through,” he reflects.

 

Brown has been married for thirty-two years; he and his wife have three grown sons. He has learned to make his family part of his profession and his profession part of his family. “I wasn’t good at it back in the early innings,” he admits, “but as I’ve matured, I’ve gotten better.”

 

Vice Admiral Brown is the third African American to reach flag rank in the U.S. Coast Guard and the first to become a three-star. He has received many medals, awards and commendations.

Brown’s Coast Guard father, Judge London Steverson, USALJ (Ret.) wanted him to become Commandant of the U S Coast Guard. He began to write about the accomplishments and career advancements of Admiral Brown. He published them in a blog online along with pictures. He chronicled all of Admiral Brown’s noteworthy achievements that would be of public interest. These were things that could persuade a Selection Board for Commandant that the time was right to select the Coast Guard’s first Black Commandant.

After Admiral Brown had reached the highest echelons of the officer corps, his assignments and accomplishments became as important to Steverson as rare paintings would be to an art collector. These were the stuff that could sway a selection board and possibly alter the course of American History.

Every Vice Admiral considered for the position of Commandant has been more than qualified for the job. None of the people in the selection process: President of the United States or Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security would be making a decision based on qualifications, or “best qualified”. They would be making a political decision. They would be looking at not only Admiral Brown, but also at his family, his marital stability, the social marketability of his family, the accomplishments and failures of his children, his brothers and sisters. They would consider his entire social fabric.

So, when Admiral Brown had achieved success at something that did not depend merely on his personal skills as a commissioned officer, it was necessary to chronicle the big picture of him as a family man, a loyal husband, and a devoted father. When the Selection Board met to determine the next Commandant they would also be considering for selection, Admiral Brown’s wife (Herminia) and his three sons (Manson Justin, Robert Anthony, and William Mathew).

Always ready

The Coast Guard motto is semper paratus, Latin for “always ready.” Brown takes that to heart.

 

“There may be a downturn in the perceived value of our services but then something inevitably happens like the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Deepwater Horizon, Hurricane Katrina, or 9/11, and the demand for those services escalates again,” Brown observes. “I tell my people to watch CNN for the next big thing; you’ll know it when you see it. You can’t manage based only on what’s going on today. You have to have a long view.”

 

Categories: American History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Security Administration Uses IRS To Seize Poor Peoples’ Tax Refunds To Pay For Debts Incurred By Their Parents

Social Security, Treasury target taxpayers for their parents’ decades-old debts.

Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post – Mary Grice of Takoma Park, MD, talks with her attorney Robert Vogel, at Vogel’s home in Rockville Maryland, April 5, 2014.

A few weeks ago, with no notice, the U.S. government intercepted Mary Grice’s tax refunds from both the IRS and the state of Maryland. Grice had no idea that Uncle Sam had seized her money until some days later, when she got a letter saying that her refund had gone to satisfy an old debt to the government — a very old debt.
When Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them.

Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. Why the feds chose to take Mary’s money, rather than her surviving siblings’, is a mystery.

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds this month are instead getting letters like the one Grice got, informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check.

The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years, said Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department’s debt management service. The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam.

No one seems eager to take credit for reopening all these long-closed cases. A Social Security spokeswoman says the agency didn’t seek the change; ask Treasury. Treasury says it wasn’t us; try Congress. Congressional staffers say the request probably came from the bureaucracy.

The only explanation the government provides for suddenly going after decades-old debts comes from Social Security spokeswoman Dorothy Clark: “We have an obligation to current and future Social Security beneficiaries to attempt to recoup money that people received when it was not due.”

Since the drive to collect on very old debts began in 2011, the Treasury Department has collected $424 million in debts that were more than 10 years old. Those debts were owed to many federal agencies, but the one that has many Americans howling this tax season is the Social Security Administration, which has found 400,000 taxpayers who collectively owe $714 million on debts more than 10 years old. The SSA expects to have begun proceedings against all of those people by this summer.

“It was a shock,” said Grice, 58. “What incenses me is the way they went about this. They gave me no notice, they can’t prove that I received any overpayment, and they use intimidation tactics, threatening to report this to the credit bureaus.”

Grice filed suit against the Social Security Administration in federal court in Greenbelt,MD., alleging that the government violated her right to due process by holding her responsible for a $2,996 debt supposedly incurred under her father’s Social Security number.

Social Security officials told Grice that six people — Grice, her four siblings and her father’s first wife, whom she never knew — had received benefits under her father’s account. The government doesn’t look into exactly who got the overpayment; the policy is to seek compensation from the oldest sibling and work down through the family until the debt is paid.

The Federal Trade Commission, on its Web site, advises Americans that “family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets.” But Social Security officials say that if children indirectly received assistance from public dollars paid to a parent, the children’s money can be taken, no matter how long ago any overpayment occurred.

“While we are responsible for collecting delinquent debts owed to taxpayers, we understand the importance of ensuring that debtors are treated fairly,” Treasury’s Schramek said in a statement. He said Treasury requires that debtors be given due process.

Social Security spokeswoman Clark, who declined to discuss Grice’s or any other case, even with the taxpayer’s permission, said the agency is “sensitive to concerns about our attempts to arrange repayment of overpayments.” She said that before taking any money, Social Security makes “multiple attempts to contact debtors via the U.S. Mail and by phone.”

Grice, who works for the Food and Drug Administration and lives in Takoma Park, in the same apartment she’s resided in since 1984, never got any notice about a debt.

Social Security officials told her they had sent their notice to her post office box in Roxboro, N.C. Grice rented that box from 1977 to 1979 and never since. And Social Security has Grice’s current address: Every year, it sends her a statement about her benefits.

Their record-keeping seems to be very spotty,” she said.

Treasury officials say that before they will take someone’s refund, the agency owed the money must certify the debt, meaning there must be evidence of the overpayment. But Social Security officials told Grice they had no records explaining the debt.

“The craziest part of this whole thing is the way the government seizes a child’s money to satisfy a debt that child never even knew about,” says Robert Vogel, Grice’s attorney. “They’ll say that somebody got paid for that child’s benefit, but the child had no control over the money and there’s no way to know if the parent ever used the money for the benefit of that kid.”

Grice, the middle of five children, said neither of her surviving siblings — one older, one younger — has had any money taken by the government. When Grice asked why she had been selected to pay the debt, she was told it was because she had an income and her address popped up — the correct one this time.

Grice found a lawyer willing to take her case without charge. Vogel is exercised about the constitutional violations he sees in the retroactive lifting of the 10-year limit on debt collection. “Can the government really bring back to life a case that was long dead?” the lawyer asked. “Can it really be right to seize a child’s money to satisfy a parent’s debt?”

But many other taxpayers whose refunds have been taken say they’ve been unable to contest the confiscations because of the cost, because Social Security cannot provide records detailing the original overpayment, and because the citizens, following advice from the IRS to keep financial documents for just three years, had long since trashed their own records.

In Glenarm, Ill., Brenda and Mike Samonds have spent the past year trying to figure out how to get back the $189.10 tax refund the government seized, claiming that Mike’s mother, who died 33 years ago, had been overpaid on survivor’s benefits after Mike’s father died in 1969.

“It was never Mike’s money, it was his mother’s,” Brenda Samonds said. “The government took the money first and then they sent us the letter. We could never get one sentence from them explaining why the money was taken.” The government mailed its notice about the debt to the house Mike’s mother lived in 40 years ago.

The Social Security spokeswoman said the agency uses a private contractor to seek current addresses and is supposed to halt collections if notices are returned as undeliverable.

After hours on the phone trying and failing to get information about the debt Mike’s mother was said to owe, the Samondses gave up.

After waiting on hold for two hours with Social Security last week, Ted Verbich also concluded it wasn’t worth the time or money to fight for the $172 the government intercepted last month.

In 1977, Verbich, now 57, was in college at the University of Maryland when he took a full-time job in an accountant’s office. Because he was earning income, he knew he had to give up the survivor’s benefits his mother had received since his father died, when Verbich was 4. But his $70 monthly checks — “They helped with the car payment,” he said — kept coming for a short time after he started work, and Verbich was notified in 1978 that he had to repay about $600. He did.

Thirty-six years later, with no notice, “they snatched my Maryland tax refund,” said Verbich, a federal worker who has lived at the same address in Glendale, Md,. for 30 years and regularly receives Social Security statements there. The feds insisted that he owed $172 but could provide no documents to back up the claim.

Verbich has given up on getting his refund, but he wants a receipt stating that his debt to his country is resolved.

“I’ll put in the request,” a Social Security clerk told Verbich, “but in reality, you’ll never get anything.”

Grice was also told there was little point in seeking a waiver of her debt. Collections can only be halted if the person passes two tests, Clark said: The taxpayer must prove that he “is without fault, and [that] repayment of the overpayment would deprive the person of income needed for ordinary living expenses.”

More than 1,200 appeals have been filed on the old cases, Clark said; taxpayers have won about 10 percent of those appeals.

The Treasury initially held the full amount of Grice’s federal and state refunds, a total of $4,462. Last week, after The Washington Post inquired about Grice’s case, the government returned the portion of her refund above the $2,996 owed on her father’s account.

But unless the feds can prove that she ever received any of the overpayment, Grice wants all of her money back.

“Look, I love a good fight, especially for principle,” she said. “My mom used to say, ‘This country is carried on the backs of the little people,’ and now I see what she meant. This is really sad.”

(Fisher, Marc, The Washington Post, April 11, 2014, p. A1)

FORT THOMAS, Ky. – Cathy Frost opened her mail last week expecting to receive her tax refund. Instead, the Treasury Department sent her a notice that Uncle Sam was keeping her $344.

“I was taken aback. I had already allocated the funds. I couldn’t believe it,” the Fort Thomas woman said Friday.

“I didn’t know the government could just keep your refund. I felt like I was being robbed.”

Thousands of Americans had the same feeling when they got the same letter.

Most of them didn’t know that the Treasury Department has been confiscating tax refunds to recover government over-payments – mainly in Social Security benefits –  from beneficiaries or their survivors.

Some of the debts, as in Frost’s case, are their parents’ and are decades old.

There was such an outcry from taxpayers and politicians that the Social Security Administration announced this week that it was going to stop seizing tax refunds pending an SSA review.

But that doesn’t help Frost, a 55-year-old single woman who just lost her job due to downsizing.

She found out she might not get her money back, even though the SSA overpaid her father – and not her – some  40 years ago, when Frost was a minor.

The whole episode has left her shaking her head, frustrated with her government.

Frost said she called the 800 number on the letter last week and talked with an SSA office worker in Chicago.

They were unable to give me any details, only that there was an overpayment of $869.20 that may have been dispersed to myself or any family member,” she said.

Frost said she told the SSA rep that her father had died when she was 18.

“I wasn’t eligible for benefits, but my younger brother was 17 and my sister was 15, so they would have received benefits for a short period of time,” she said.

“It could even have been my father, because my mother died when I was 9, so he might have received benefits from her.

“They said, ‘Well, that must have been it.’ But they couldn’t tell me for sure. They said they didn’t have any details.

“They said all they could do is take a request to have somebody contact me and send me more information.

“I thought, ‘This is insane! How could people do that? And this is our government!’ “

When the SSA announced that it was suspending the seizure program, the agency directed Frost and other taxpayers to visit a field office and request a waiver for the overpayment.

Frost said she went to the SSA office in Florence on Good Friday, April 18th.

“They checked the records and told me it was an overpayment to my father when I was a minor, so I’m eligible for a waiver,” she said.  “They gave me a list of things I’m supposed to turn in, and if they determine I’m not able to afford the overpayment, they will waive it.”

Talk about government red tape.

The SSA wants to see Frost’s rent or mortgage payments, utilities, loans and credit card payments, medical and dental payments, insurance, property taxes and other fees and obligations, she said.

Before she left the office, the staffer gave her a list of local attorneys, she said.

She said she’s thinking about calling one.

“We’re not talking about that much money, and they’d probably decide I’m able to afford it. But I don’t make that much and I just got downsized from Avon after 17 years,” Frost said.

It doesn’t seem fair for the government to penalize me for something that happened when I was a minor, that I was not a part of.”

She said the government did not seize her brother’s or sister’s tax refunds – only hers.

The Social Security Administration says it has identified about 400,000 people with old debts. They owe a total of $714 million.

So far, the agency says it has collected $55 million.

There used to be a 10-year limit on collecting old debts, but thanks to an unidentified legislator who slipped a rider into the 2008 farm bill, the government can legally recover any overpayment, even from 40 years ago.

“It’s totally nuts,” Frost said.

CNBC (Apr 11, 2014)

US seizing tax refunds of children over parents’ debt?!

Friday, 11 Apr 2014

The government is now going through old records to see if it overpaid people on Social Security. If it thinks it did, it can now seize the IRS tax refund checks of the CHILDREN of those people it thinks it overpaid.

This isn’t a proposal—it’s already happening. For the past three years, the government has been confiscating hundreds of thousands of Americans’ tax refunds, according to the Washington Post. It has already confiscated $1.9 billion in tax refunds this year alone.

Peter Zander | Workbook Stock | Getty Images

The amazing thing is that the government is doing this even if it has little or no proof and no exact details. And the letters the government sends to unsuspecting taxpayers are frightening, use accusatory language, and include other financial threats.

“They gave me no notice, they can’t prove that I received any overpayment, and they use intimidation tactics, threatening to report this to the credit bureaus,” Mary Grice, who had her tax refunds seized a few weeks ago, is quoted as saying.

 

As usual, no one in the government is willing to take the responsibility for this new policy—Social Security said it didn’t do it, ask the Treasury Department. Treasury said—ask Congress.

If you think this is some kind of unprecedented outrage, you’re right. But here’s some advice: get used to it.

Tax refunds are clearly becoming the new promised land for government regulators and bureaucrats desperate for more revenues. We already know that confiscating tax refunds are the only real way the IRS will be able to impose Obamacare non-compliance penalties, and now it seems like the Social Security Administration is jumping on that bandwagon.

But there’s a more powerful and disturbing message here. Remember that the people who benefited from these alleged Social Security payments have not committed any crime—that’s why the government doesn’t need to provide any proof or real documentation. It’s more likely that the SSA simply screwed up and expects the descendants of its accidental beneficiaries to pay up. And again, the money comes out first before you can protest and find out why.

 

So, now we have yet another very good reason to make sure you don’t get a tax refund. First, getting a tax refund means you’ve given the government a free loan for 12 months.

Second, tax refunds are the only way you can be punished—rightly or wrongly—for any ObamaCare (Affordable Care Act) individual mandate non-compliance. And third, your tax refund is now a possible target for government bureaucrats who screwed up in the past and want to come after your money to make it right. If the SSA can do it, what’s to stop the other agencies?

After hearing this story, you wouldn’t think anyone would have to remind the public that Washington already controls too much of their money and has trampled on too much of our financial rights. But I will anyway since so many politicians and other elites don’t seem to be backing down on their incessant calls for more regulations, oversight and of course, more taxes.

 

Once again, we have a case of the government saying: “When you screw up, you pay. When we screw up, you also pay.”

If only our elected leaders would be so honest with us at election time.

This is commentary from Jake Novak, the supervising producer of “Street Signs.”

This is commentary from Jake Novak, the supervising producer of “Street Signs.”

 

POLITICS

Government suspends controversial program to recover money from adult children of dead taxpayers

social_security_benefits.jpg

The Social Security Administration announced Monday it is suspending a controversial program that goes after adult children of deceased taxpayers who the government claims were recipients of overpayments more than a decade ago.

Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin said she has directed an immediate halt to the three-year-old program while the agency does a review. The controversial program seized tax refunds in an effort to recoup the funds.

The move to stop the program came after many of the recipients and members of Congress complained to the federal agency.

“While this policy of seizing tax refunds to repay decades-old Social Security overpayments might be allowed under the law, it is entirely unjust,” Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland said in a letter to Colvin.

The program was authorized by a 2008 change in the law that allows Social Security and other federal agencies to use a Treasury program to seize federal payments to recoup debts that are more than 10 years old. Previously, there was a 10-year limit on using the program.

In most cases, the seizures are done through tax refunds.

The change was tucked into the 2008 farm bill — but trying to track down which lawmaker added in the one line that lifted the 10-year statute hasn’t been easy. And, not surprisingly, Washington lawmakers haven’t been eager to step up to the plate and take the blame.

Leslie Paige, vice president of policy and communications at Citizens Against Government Waste, says it’s a common problem in Congress.

“Lawmakers try to sneak in these one or two lines into gigantic legislative packages,” Paige told FoxNews.com. “It’s a dirty little secret. Members of Congress don’t know what they are voting on most of the time.”

Paige said the “unintended consequences” of these bills are felt hardest on Americans often left powerless to fight the federal government.

“All [lawmakers] care about is ‘Did my pork, my earmark, my little provision get into this gigantic mess of a bill?’” she said.

Following Colvin’s announcement Monday, Boxer said in a statement: “I am grateful that the Social Security Administration has chosen not to penalize innocent Americans while the agency determines a fair path forward on how to handle past errors.”

Mikulski added, “Garnishing these refunds to collect overpayments incurred through no fault of their own and based on decades-old errors is a policy that must not continue.” 

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, praised the Social Security Administration for suspending the debt collection but continued to raise questions Monday about how this started.

It’s not clear where that authority came in. There’s a difference between collecting decades-old debt from the debtors and decades-old debt from their kids,” he said.

The Social Security Administration says it has identified about 400,000 people with old debts. They owe a total of $714 million.

So far, the agency says it has collected $55 million.

Colvin said she was suspending the programpending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law to refer debt to the Treasury Department.”

“If any Social Security or Supplemental Security Income beneficiary believes they have been incorrectly assessed with an overpayment under this program, I encourage them to request an explanation or seek options to resolve the overpayment,” Colvin said.

The Washington Post first reported on the program.

There are several scenarios in which people may have received overpayments as children. For example, when a parent of a minor child dies, the child may be eligible for survivor’s benefits, which are typically sent to the surviving parent or guardian.

If there was an overpayment made on behalf of the child, that child could be held liable years later, as an adult.

Also, if a child is disabled, he or she may receive overpayments. Those overpayments would typically be taken out of current payments, once they are discovered.

But if disability payments were discontinued because the child’s condition improved, Social Security could try to recoup the overpayments years later.

“We want to assure the public that we do not seek restitution through tax refund offset in cases when the debt in question was established prior to the debtor turning 18 years of age,” Social Security spokesman Mark Hinkle said in an email. “Also, we do not use tax refund offset to collect the debt of a person’s relative — we only use it to collect the overpaid benefits the person received for himself or herself.”

Hinkle said the debt collection could be waived if the person is without fault and repayment would “deprive the person of income needed for ordinary living expenses or would be unfair for another reason.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

 

‘Government suspends controversial program to recover money from adult children of dead taxpayers’

 

Social_security_card cc

In the words of 2 people I spoke to about this story – “How can this be legal?”

Good question. At least they’re stopping it.

 

(From FoxNews.com)

The Social Security Administration announced Monday it is suspending a controversial program that goes after adult children of deceased taxpayers who the government claims were recipients of overpayments more than a decade ago.

Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin said she has directed an immediate halt to the three-year-old program while the agency does a review. The controversial program seized tax refunds in an effort to recoup the funds.

Another win for social media.

Click here for the article.

 

9


Source

“Government suspends controversial program to recover money from adult children of dead taxpayers.” Foxnews.com, 2014-04-14.

 

Nick Sorrentino

About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, his work has been featured at Breitbart.comReason.com, NPR.com, Townhall, The Daily Caller, and many other publications. A graduate of Mary Washington College he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Charles Boustany, and Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Sam Johnson seek answers on Treasury debt recovery program

TreasuryHouse Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) recently sought answers about the Treasury Department’s Offset Program and its effects on children who once received Social Security benefits.
Boustany and Johnson wrote to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and acting Social Security Administration Commissioner Carolyn Colvin about recent reports that adults who may have once received Social Security benefits as children had their tax refunds withheld for overpayments made decades ago to their parents.
The parents of some of the affected citizens are deceased and many of the taxpayers never received notice that they owed a debt as provided under law.
Colvin announced last week that the SSA would stop additional referrals of debts to the Treasury Department owed to Social Security that are 10 years or older for collection under the Treasury Offset Program.
“SSA’s decision to stop referrals was the right thing to do,” Boustany and Johnson said. “However, Treasury and Social Security still owe an explanation to the American people. While the government must protect taxpayer dollars, it is difficult to justify the practice of seizing innocent Americans’ tax refunds to pay debts resulting from benefits they may or may not have received when they were children, with little or no notice or evidence documenting the overpayment. The sooner we have those answers the sooner we can work to protect Americans from agency actions that are harsh and unfair.”
The Washington Post reported on April 10 that the Treasury has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds this year, including $75 million of delinquent debts 10 years of age or older. Additionally, 400,000 taxpayers who owe a total of $714 million in debts more than 10 years old have been identified by SSA.

Categories: Social Security Cases | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A Case Too Weak For A Court-martial

 

Cadet Alexander Stevens is a cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). He is accused of breaking into the room of a female cadet of lower rank in Chase Hall and sexually abusing her.

On or about April 4, an anonymous person of great intellect and enormous insight left the following comment on my blob at cgachasehall.blogspot.com. I was so impressed by it that I reproduce it here without alteration or editing.

QUOTE:

This is not a case of sexual assault; the evidence presented by the government failed to prove anything more than the fact that there is a systemic problem of alcohol abuse and confusion over dorm room locations running rampant at the USCGA. Multiple witnesses confirmed the events of the night as purported by Cadet Stevens. Moreover, they confirmed that it is a too-frequent occurrence for over-intoxicated cadets to return to Chase Hall and accidentally walk into the wrong room. The alleged victim’s own roommate testified to that fact without reservation.

Doors have locks, the roommate also confirmed, but cadets are not permitted keys; only the XO has a master key to unlock doors. The only way a cadet could secure his/her room is when all occupants are safely inside. This is surely a contributor to issues of unspeakable theft, vandalism and abuse current and former cadets can tell.

The Article 32 Hearing was a manufactured event architected by someone with an agenda that goes beyond the unfortunate incident that occurred in the wee hours of September 15. Yes, Cadet Stevens was drunk and made a horrible mistake. But it was not assault and any reasonable person who looks at all of the evidence will quickly come to this conclusion. To reach any other decision is an overt decision to falsely accuse – and ruin – the character and integrity of the very same honor all cadets represent.

Admiral Stosz has issues within her ranks of leadership, character and courage; she needs to look at the culture of Chase Hall and question why cadets are abusing alcohol and questioning if the restrictive weekday rigor and lax weekend liberty — call it Feast or Famine — is modeling the lifestyle and behaviors that mold tomorrow’s Coast Guard leaders. These are far greater issues than addressing Cadet Steven’s long overdue Mast for drunkenly walking into another’s room in error.

I, for one, did not lose the irony of the drawn-out investigation culminating with a hearing that began with the start of the Coast Guard’s Sexual Prevention and Awareness Month. This is showmanship at the taxpayer’s expense, folks, and nothing more.

UNQUOTE

 

The Coast Guard prosecutor, Lt. Tyler McGill, has alleged that Cadet Stevens  was on a mission for sexual gratification that September night. The room Stevens entered was about 300 feet from his girlfriend’s room.

“Cadet Stevens did not walk into the room right next door,” McGill said.

Lt. John Cole, Cadet Stevens’ Assigned Military Defense Counsel, said the government didn’t prove sexual intent. He claims Stevens was drunk at the time and made a mental mistake.

Just because he accidentally touched the wrong cadet’s leg doesn’t mean he should go to court martial,” Cole said.

Cole argued that Stevens should face administrative punishment, which can include expulsion. Administrative punishment is not criminal in nature. Non-judicial punishment (NJP) under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the lowest form of criminal proceeding available to the military. Above NJP there are three levels of courts-martial. They are a Summary, a Special and a General Court-matial. They differ in the maximum amount of punishment they can award to a convicted member. A court martial is a Federal Criminal Trial and can lead to prison time if the person is convicted.

The Article 32 pretrial investigation is similar to a civilian grand jury. It is used to determine wheteher there is enough evidence to refer the case to a court-martial.

A hearing in the form of an Article 32 Investigation was held  Wednesday April 2nd at the Coast Guard Academy. The Article 32 Investigating Officer (IO) has not yet made a recommendation. The IO could recommend that the case be dismissed, dealt with administratively or referred for trial by court-martial.

Usually the accused usually does not testify at an Article 32 Hearing.

Most smart Defense Counsels do not let their clients testify at an Article 32 Hearing. They use that opportunity to discover the Government’s case. They get a chance to see how much evidence the Government has and how strong it is.

Cadet Stevens, who is accused of abusive sexual contact, housebreaking and unlawful entry, did not testify.

 

The Testimony was weak.

The female complaining witness testified that a man entered her room in the middle of the night, touched her on her thigh and moved his hand up her leg before she screamed and kicked him.

“I remember someone fumbling with my blanket that was on top of me and touching my leg,” she said, describing skin-to-skin contact and the swirling motion of a hand moving up her leg. “I kicked my legs and I screamed.”

The man either fell or jumped off her bed and fled. She says she chased him and located a friend.

“I kept telling him (the friend) that’s not right,” she said, noting that she was shaking and crying.

The cadet said she found it hard to sleep and concentrate after the encounter, and her grades suffered.

“I think he should be kicked out of the Coast Guard. I think he should be a registered sex offender, and I think he should go to jail,” she said.

Cadet Stevens’ explanation Is credible and exculpatory.

Stevens said in an interview that he went into the fellow cadet’s room and touched her with his hand, said Eric Gempp, a special agent with the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS). Stevens said he was startled when the cadet said, “Hey!” He quickly left the room, Stevens told investigators.

Stevens said he went into the room by mistake, believing it was his girlfriend’s room, Gempp testified.

Defense Counsel was able to get the accused’s statements into the record without him taking the witness stand.

Chief Robert Cain testified that Stevens voluntarily came to him and told him during a night of drinking he got into an argument with his girlfriend. Cain said Stevens told him after returning to his room that he decided to apologize and went to what he thought was his girlfriend’s room, tapped her on the leg and realized he was in the wrong room.

Another cadet testified that classmates often go into the wrong rooms, but said the mistake typically involves going into a room one or two doors away.

The only cadet ever court-martialed at the academy, Webster Smith, was tried in 2006 at a General Court-martial and convicted on extortion, sodomy and indecent assault charges.

 

(The Webster Smith Case was appealed all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. It is fully documented in a book entitled “Conduct Unbecoming An Officer and a Lady” available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-Conviction/dp/1460978021 )

The Article 32 investigating officer (IO) in this case could recommend that the alleged offenses be dismissed, dealt with administratively, or referred for trial by court-martial.

Categories: Military Justice | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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