Posts Tagged With: Court-martial

The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word

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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

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

Coast Guard Academy Will Not Prosecute Drunken Cadet For Sexual Assault

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 June 12, 2014.

http://cgachasehall.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-weak-case-for-court-martial.html

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)

http://cgachasehall.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-weak-case-for-court-martial.html

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Lawyers, Liars, and Virtual Predators.

LCDR Shawn Gray, USCG.(In Center of photo)

Lieutenant Commander Shawn Gray,U S Coast Guard, an attorney and officer with the U.S. Coast Guard Judge Advocate General Corps, drove from his home in Miami to Sarasota recently to meet an 8-year-old girl he had met in a chat room. But when LCDR Gray arrived in Sarasota County, to a house where he thought the child would be home alone, he was instead greeted by Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office deputies who arrested him. “He had hoped to have sex with an 8-year-old girl,” Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said of Gray, who was charged with use of a computer and traveling to seduce, solicit or entice a child to commit sex acts. LCDR Gray is being charged with a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, said Chief Assistant State Attorney Ed Brodsky. LCDR Gray was one of 31 nabbed in a six-day sting called Operation Intercept, an attempt to protect Manatee and Sarasota counties’ children from online predators, Knight said Monday during a news conference at the sheriff’s office in downtown Sarasota. Two of the 31 arrested were from Miami-Dade County. Besides LCDR Gray, 21-year-old Dalbert Borges of Hialeah was also charged with the same crime. All 31 suspects responded to Internet-based ads and engaged in sexually explicit written and verbal conversation, according to a Sarasota Sheriff’s Office press release. What also is disturbing about the sting, in which the sheriff’s office also was able to take the suspect’s vehicles as “tools of their trade,” is that this form of predation seems to be able to fool children who are not fooled when someone tries to entice them in person. “This is a different way of doing the stranger danger, and now they are using technology,” said Venice Chief of Police Thomas McNulty. “An informed child is a child not likely to be victimized,” McNulty added. The suspects all agreed to come to a secret location in Sarasota County with the intent to have sex with a child or children.

LT Jason Frank, USCG.

LT Jason Frank, U S Coast Guard, a Gaithersburg, Maryland man who repeatedly sneaked into a Stafford County, Virginia teenager’s room to have sex with her pleaded guilty to six charges in 2008. Jason F. Frank, 37, was convicted in Stafford Circuit Court to three counts of computer solicitation of a minor, two counts of carnal knowledge and attempted carnal knowledge. He faced a maximum penalty of 55 years in prison. According to evidence presented by prosecutor Lori DiGiosia, Frank met the girl on MySpace a few years ago and communicated with her by phone and text-messaging. LT Frank, a member of the Coast Guard was assigned to the Command Center Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington DC. He is married and has a teenage daughter. He told the Stafford girl that his name was “Eric” and that he was 28 years old. He came to see the girl at her home at least three times, according to the evidence. He entered the home in the middle of the night through her bedroom window. In September and December of 2006, LT Frank and the girl had consensual sex. He told her that he loved her and that she was special to him. They were about to have sex again on August 1, 2007 DiGiosia said, but the girl’s mother heard a noise and came downstairs and confronted LT Frank.

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Did Bradley Manning Expose War Crimes or Commit War Crimes?

HAGERSTOWN, Md. – Military District of Washington Commander Major General Michael Linnington is the Convening Authority (CA) in the case of U.S. vs Pfc Bradley Manning. He has taken the recommendation of the Article 32 Investigating Officer (IO) and referred all charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning to a General Court-martial. Manning is a low-ranking intelligence analyst charged in the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history.

This means Pfc. Manning will stand trial for allegedly giving more than 700,000 secret U.S. documents and classified combat video to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks for publication.

Manning is a 24-year-old native from Crescent, Oklahoma. He faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy. A General Court-martial has the power to impose the death penalty. The Convening Authority has said that it has taken the death penalty off the table. So, the maximum punishment that Manning faces if convicted is life imprisonment.

A judge who is yet to be appointed will set the trial date. The military judge will immediately face a “speedy trial” issue. Under the UCMJ, Uniform Code Of Military Justice, an accused must be brought to trial within 120 days of the preferral of charges.

Manning’s lead defense counsel, is a civilian attorney, David Coombs.

Defense lawyers say Manning was clearly a troubled young soldier whom the Army should never have deployed to Iraq or given access to classified material while he was stationed there from late 2009 to mid-2010.

At a preliminary hearing in December, military prosecutors produced evidence that Manning downloaded and electronically transferred to WikiLeaks nearly half a million sensitive battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, and video of a deadly 2007 Army helicopter attack that WikiLeaks shared with the world and dubbed “Collateral Murder.”

Manning’s lawyers countered that others had access to Manning’s workplace computers. They say he was in emotional turmoil, partly because he was a gay soldier at a time when homosexuals were barred from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces.

The DADT (Don’t ask, Don’t Tell) policy of the military will loom large as part of the defense strategy. It is possible that the Defense Witness List would include the names of such people as retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullens.

On February 2, 2010, Admiral Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that they fully support President Obama’s decision to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, which prevented openly gay people from serving in the military. “It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do,” Mullen said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. “No matter how I look at the issue…I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens…For me, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”

The defense also claims Manning’s apparent disregard for security rules during stateside training and his increasingly violent outbursts after deployment were red flags that should have prevented him from having access to classified material. Manning’s lawyers also contend that the material WikiLeaks published did little or no harm to national security.

In the December hearing at Fort Meade, Md., prosecutors also presented excerpts of online chats found on Manning’s personal computer that allegedly document collaboration between him and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Federal prosecutors in northern Virginia are investigating Assange and others for allegedly facilitating the disclosures.

The Bradley Manning Support Group, which contends Manning heroically exposed war crimes, issued a statement calling his prosecution “fundamentally unjust.”

“This administration owes all Americans an honest explanation for their extraordinary retaliation against Bradley Manning,” said Jeff Paterson, one of the group’s lead organizers.

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