Posts Tagged With: United States Supreme Court

The Case of Cadet Webster Smith, The Last Word

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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

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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

What Is A Reasonable Accomodation To An Abridgement of Religious Freedom?

 

On Wednesday, February 12, the Kansas House voted 72-49 to approve HB 2453, which offers legal protection to individuals and businesses that refuse service for homosexual couples, specifically those looking to get married. Under the bill’s language, individuals, businesses and government employees would be immune from legal reprisal for refusing service if they have “sincerely held religious beliefs” opposing customers’ marriages. The bill is described as protecting religious freedom.

The Kansas House of Representatives passed the bill (pdf) (A copy of the Kansas Bill is attached as Appendix A) that would have broadly legalized discrimination against homosexuals. The bill was halted. But the fight isn’t over.

Conservatives are trying to use religious freedom as a means of limiting the effects of the spread of homosexual values upon the majority population.Clearly Christians and other morally offended Americans have had enough, but what is a reasonable response to the radical homosexual agenda?

 

Supporting the bill on the Kansas House floor, Republican state Rep. Charles Macheers proclaimed that “discrimination is horrible. It’s hurtful. … It has no place in civilized society, and that’s precisely why we’re moving this bill.

The bill, written out of fear that the state may soon face an Oklahoma-style gay marriage ruling, will now easily pass the Republican Senate and be signed into law by the Republican governor. The result will mark Kansas as the first state, though certainly not the last, to legalize separate homosexual and straight people in virtually every arena of life.

The bill’s scope was impressive in its expansiveness: Kansans would have been able to legally refuse to provide just about any service to anyone whose relationship they find offensive for religious reasons. The bill specifically enumerated adoption, foster care, counseling, social services, employment and employment benefits, as well as the general categories of “services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges”, as permissible areas for refusing to provide the service.

In addition to barring all anti-discrimination lawsuits against private employers, the new law permits government employees to deny service to gays in the name of “religious liberty.” This is nothing new, but the sweep of Kansas’ statute is breathtaking. Any government employee is given explicit permission to discriminate against gay couples—not just county clerks and DMV employees, but literally anyone who works for the state of Kansas.

And if a homosexual believed himself to have been discriminated against by anyone decided to sue, they would have not only lost, but under this bill, they would have had to pay the prevailing parties’ attorney’s fees.

This backlash is, quite possibly, a response to the increasing spread of homosexual marriage, and the wave of law suits brought by homosexual couples against legitimate private business owners who refuse to take pictures at homosexual weddings and refuse to bake wedding cakes for homosexual couples because it violates the conscious and transgresses the religious rights of the business owners.

This is the real area of debate. It is whether religiously affiliated institutions like schools or churches and for-profit, non-religiously affiliated businesses should be able to turn away homosexual customers on the grounds of religious freedom. It’s the wedding-cake scenario, where an employee at a bakery or a photographer is asked to provide services to a same-sex couple celebrating a wedding. The tragic part of that is that homosexuals believe that it is justifiable to drive those small business owners out of business all together because they find it offensive to their religious beliefs to work for homosexual couples. Some of these family businesses have been around for 30  to 50 years.

 

In Kansas homosexual marriage has been banned by constitutional amendment since 2006. Kansas legislators asserted that this law was intended to  protect the rights of normal religious folks to exercise their beliefs without state interference.

 

Religious freedom is a cornerstone of the US constitution. The right to live and worship as we choose is a foundational American value, highlighted in the very first of the original amendments.

 

As the Kansas defeat suggests, socially conservative states are inclined to pass more expansive exemptions. But legislators in other red states will likely take a lesson from the defeat and limit their scope; however, they will still be broader than those in, say, liberal Massachusetts. Just how broad depends on how quickly legislators in red states act. The Kansas bill didn’t become law possibly because it was overly broad. It was a beginning. More of these laws are being drafted in other states. They are headed for the U S Supreme Court. Since Freedom Of Religion is a Constitutionally protected fundamental American right guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and homosexual marriage is not mentioned in the Constitution, the Left-leaning Supreme Court will have to decide which right is deserving of Constitutional protection.

 

 

(Adopted from “Kansas’ anti-gay bill another attempt to force warped Christianity on others”

By Jill Filipovic, The Guardian, guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2014)

 

APPENDIX A.  The full text of the Kansas Bill.

As Amended by House Committee

Session of 2014

HOUSE BILL No. 2453

By Committee on Federal and State Affairs

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AN ACT concerning religious freedoms with respect to marriage.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:

Section 1. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no individual

or religious entity shall be required by any governmental entity to do any

of the following, if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious

beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender:

(a) Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities,

goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other

social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to,

or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil

union or similar arrangement;

(b) solemnize any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or

similar arrangement; or

(c) treat any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar

arrangement as valid.

Sec. 2. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no refusal by

an individual or religious entity to engage in any activity described in

section 1, and amendments thereto, shall result in:

(1) A civil claim or cause of action under state or local law based

upon such refusal; or

(2) an action by any governmental entity to penalize, withhold

benefits from, discriminate against or otherwise disadvantage any

protected individual or religious entity, under any state or local law.

(b) Any individual or religious entity named in or subject to a civil

action, an administrative action or any action by a governmental entity

may immediately assert the protections provided by section 1, and

amendments thereto, or this section, as a defense by moving to dismiss

such action. If the motion to dismiss is filed in an action before an

administrative tribunal, within 15 days after the filing of such motion any

party to such action may elect to transfer jurisdiction of such action to a

district court with proper venue. Within 60 days after such transfer of

jurisdiction, the district court shall decide whether the claimed protection

applies. The district court shall not permit any additional discovery or fact-

finding prior to making its decision.

(c) If a governmental entity, or any person asserts a claim or cause of

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HB 2453—Am. by HC

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action, or takes any adverse action against an individual or religious entity

in violation of subsection (a), such individual or religious entity shall be

entitled upon request to recover all reasonable attorney fees, costs and

damages such individual or religious entity incurred as a result of such

violation.

(d) If an individual employed by a governmental entity or other non-

religious entity invokes any of the protections provided by section 1, and

amendments thereto, as a basis for declining to provide a lawful service

that is otherwise consistent with the entity’s duties or policies, the

individual’s employer

, in directing the performance of such service,

shall either promptly provide another employee to provide such service, or

shall otherwise ensure that the requested service is provided, if it can be

done without undue hardship to the employer.

Sec. 3. As used in sections 1 through 4, and amendments thereto:

(a) “Religious entity” means an organization, regardless of its non-

profit or for-profit status, and regardless of whether its activities are

deemed wholly or partly religious, that is:

(1) A religious corporation, association, educational institution or

society;

(2) an entity operated, supervised or controlled by, or connected with,

a religious corporation, association, educational institution or society; or

(3) a privately-held business operating consistently with its sincerely

held religious beliefs, with regard to any activity described in section l,

and amendments thereto.

(b) “Governmental entity” means

any state office or officer,

department, board, commission, institution, bureau or any agency, division

or unit within any office, department, board, commission or other state

authority, and any political or taxing subdivision of this state constituted

under or acting under the authority of the laws of this state, including, but

not limited to, any county, city, municipality, township, district,

postsecondary educational institution, as defined by K.S.A. 74-3201b, and

amendments thereto, or quasi-public corporation or other quasi-public

entity

the executive, legislative and judicial branches and any and all

agencies, boards, commissions, departments, districts, authorities or

other entities, subdivisions or parts whatsoever of state and local

government, as well as any person acting under color of law

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Sec. 4. (a) If any word, phrase, clause or provision of sections 1

through 4, and amendments thereto, or the application of any such word,

phrase, clause or provision to any person or circumstance is held invalid,

the remaining provisions shall be given effect without the invalid portion

and to this end the provisions of sections 1 through 4, and amendments

thereto, are severable.

(b) Nothing in sections 1 through 4, and amendments thereto, shall be

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Categories: Religious Liberty | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Why Was Webster Smith Court-martialed?

U.S. Supreme Court building.

U.S. Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why was Cadet 1st Class Webster Smith investigated, charged, tried, and convicted? 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?

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.

Is Justice truly blind? Is our Constitution color-blind? Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan thought so. In 1896 he wrote “Our Constitution is color-blind”. He was the lone dissenter in the Case of Plessy v. Ferguson arguing that separate but equal facilities are inherently discriminatory. Justice Harlan was a voice crying in the wilderness that our Constitution neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.

The Webster Smith Case was a litmus test for military justice. Now, we know that Justice is not blind; The Constitution of the United States is not color-blind; and the Supreme Court is not color-blind. Justice peeks past the blindfold to see who stands before the Bar of Justice. And Justices of the Supreme Court peek to see who stands before the Bench. History has shown us that it does make a difference in the outcome of a case, whether the party who seeks relief is white or Black, male or female, rich or poor, educated or uneducated. Like most constitutional and justice “myths”, the claim of impartiality is truly a myth.

v.

WEBSTER M. SMITH, CADET, U.S. COAST GUARD

FILED UNDER SEAL[*]

MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION FINDINGS OF FACT

During the summer training program at the start of their first class year, Cadet Smith and Cadet [SR] were both assigned to patrol boats that moored at Station Little Creek. Both lived in barracks rooms at the Station…she went on to state that on October 19th….she agreed to pose for a picture with him in which both of them were nude, and later that night allowed him to perform cunnilingus on her then she performed fellatio on him.

___________________________________

…. the Government’s objection that this evidence is inadmissible in accordance with M.R.E. 413 [sic] is SUSTAINED.

EFFECTIVE DATE

This order was effective on 26 May 2006.

Done at Washington, DC,

/s/

Brian Judge

Captain, U.S. Coast Guard

Military Judge

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.

This was not a sexual assault case. Webster Smith did not sexually assault anyone. What he did was engage in an act of consensual love making with a friend. He was charged and tried; his partner was not. Why not? They both violated the Coast Guard Academy Cadet Regulations by engaging in sexual activities in Chase Hall, the cadet barracks.

An article published in the New London DAY newspaper on 20 February 2008 entitled “Service Academies faulted in GAO report,”  stated: “In the summer of 2006, former cadet Webster Smith became the first student court-martialed at the Coast Guard Academy. He was acquitted of rape but convicted of extortion, sodomy and indecent assault.”

One might conclude that he was convicted of three of four charges. That is not correct. The truth is that of the 10 charges referred to the general court martial, Webster Smith was acquitted of one charge of rape, one count of extortion, one count of sodomy, one count of indecent assault and one charge of assault (five of 10 charges). All findings of guilty cited in the article related to one female.

That is only part of the story. The incidents related to Webster Smith were publicly announced as 16 pending charges in mid-February 2006. These charges concerned five women. In early 2006 the Coast Guard Investigative Service  (CGIS) began an investigation related to yet another woman (SR) and Webster Smith. This resulted in six additional charges, filed in March 2006. An Article 32 Investigation resulted in dismissal of 12 of the 22 charges.

This means, 17 of 22 charged allegations were dismissed prior to trial (12 dismissals; five acquittals).(Merle J. Smith Jr.,Esquire, Individual Military Attorney for Webster Smith.

Waterford, CT.)

One Judge on the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals found that former cadet Webster Smith was denied a fair trial and that the case should have been sent back to the trial court for a new trial. He found that the Case of United States vs Webster Smith should have been returned to the Convening Authority for a new trial.

The Judge found so many discretionary errors in the court-martial proceedings that he had no choice but to rule that Webster Smith had been denied a fair trial.

It was a classic case of “he-said, she-said”. The trial came down to simply a credibility issue. The big question was who was telling the truth and who was not.

This was a question for the jury to decide. It was a fact question. The jury is the trier of facts. The court-martial judge (CAPT Brian Judge) went to extraordinary lengths to keep the question out of the hands of the jury. He took it upon himself to decide the issue of credibility. That is why Webster Smith was convicted.

The jury had no idea what the real issue was. They were kept in the dark. They were not given proper instructions. The judge decided who was the more credible witness. The judge abused his discretion.

The judge went beyond the authority and power delegated to him under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and the Federal Rules of Evidence. Webster Smith was denied his Sixth Amendment Rights.

One does not have to read the Appeals Court decision to know that an accused at a court-martial has a right to cross-examine the witnesses against him. Anyone who has watched Perry Mason or Tom Cruise in the movie “A Few Good Men”, would come away with an appreciation for the fact that the jury has the responsibility to decide what the facts are and who is not telling the truth.

When a judge does not allow the jury to do its job, he commits reversible error. When a judge confuses his duties with the duties assigned to the jury, then he has abused his discretion and that constitutes reversible error.

The prosecution was allowed to ask Webster Smith questions that were like bombshells that would cave in the sides of a Sherman Tank, but on cross-examination of the principal witness, the Defense lawyers were reduced to tip-toeing through the tulips. The uncorroborated testimony of the principal witness (SR) was a roadside bomb to Webster Smith’s defense.

If the jury had only been allowed to follow the Yellow Brick Road and to resolve the credibility issue itself, then, at least, the trial of Webster Smith would have had some semblance of a fair trial. The trial judge, CAPT Brian Judge, was not taking any chances. He took matters into his own hands. He jumped onto the Scales of Justice and pulled them way down on the side of the Prosecution.

In a case where the principal witness was allowed to hide behind the military judge for protection from thorough cross-examination; and where facts and perceptions may have been dispositive of the ultimate issue, Truth can be elusive. In a case where a convincing and charming fabricator of facts can sway a jury that has not been fully informed, and where the jury has only been given some of the relevant facts, the judge left a lot of room for mischief on the part of a sneaky prosecutor. The judge left a lot of room for the imagination of the jury to run wild when he allowed the Prosecutor to introduce just enough evidence to put Webster Smith in a compromising position; but he denied the Defense lawyers an opportunity to explain the contradictions by cross-examining the principal witness. Then the judge left it to the jury to “connect the dots”. This was terribly unfair to the accused, Webster Smith.

Webster Smith was reduced to “a bug under a glass jar” for inspection, and the principal witness was kept as snug as a bug in a rug. Eventually all of this discretionary “hokus-pokus” became so egregious as to eliminate any possibility of a fair trial for Webster Smith. Finding the Truth became next to impossible. This case should have been remanded for a new trial. To send the case back to the Superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy, the Convening Authority, for a new trial was the only fair way to remedy the errors that were committed in the court-martial of Webster Smith.

The Founding Fathers and the framers of the U S Constitution provided procedural safeguards for criminal defendents facing the awesome powers on the Federal Government. They gave him; among other rights, the right to remain silent, the right to trial by jury, and the right to confront and to cross-examine the witnesses against him. These rights are inalienable. These rights cannot be taken away; not by the Government, and certainly not by a part-time trial judge.

One judge on the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals saw clearly how the legal system, the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Military Rules of Evidence were misused to deny Webster Smith a fair trial.

I believe a great travesty of justice was committed. A gross miscarriage of justice was done at the Coast Guard Academy.The entire process was flawed.
The only evidence was the word of a couple of incredible females. There was no physical evidence whatsoever.
Webster Smith has apologized for his behavior. Confession is good for the soul. It is the first step toward true rehabilitation. No one else involved in the entire episode showed such strength of character. The Academy is a character building institution.

 Cadet Webster Smith was a victim of jealousy, racial discrimination, a violation of the 14th Amendment Equal Protection clause, and last but not the least, a victim of a double standard.
He was one of the most loved and respected cadets on campus. But he had two things going against him. One, he had dated the first female Regimental Commander, and the Dean of Admissions’ daughter. Both were white. Since they were white and Cadet Smith was Black, it did not sit well with the Commandant of Cadets.
Racial Prejudice is still very much alive at the Academy.

 America’s fighting men have come in many guises, shapes and sizes. They have had to fight all of America’s enemies, both foreign and domestic. Cadet Webster Smith had to fight his own senior officers, friends, and mentors. In the end he was proud. He had fought the good fight. Even TIME magazine carried the quote of the first cadet in Coast Guard history to be tried by a General Court-martial.

http://www.time.com/time/quotes/0,26174,1209244,00.html

Less than 60 days after the verdict was rendered in the Webster Smith case, I predicted that the case would make it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court justices are not elected. They are appointed with the advice and consent of the Congress. The Nine Justices of the Supreme Court are the least democratic branch of the federal government. They have no constituency. They do not have to conform to the biases of the majority. They are the Court of Last Resort; so, they are infallible. With few exceptions, they have dealt with evenhandedly with all of America’s citizens.

They do not have to sit for re-election. They are appointed for life. They are totally isolated from busy bodies on the Right or Left Side of the political spectrum. With one stroke of the pen, they may act to curb injustices, correct unsavory attitudes, and breathe new life into a living Constitution.

Historically we have looked to them to solve our most vexing social problems. They are America’s ultimate arbiters of justice; and, that includes military justice.

Aside from the Webster Smith Case, I cannot think of any case or incident in Coast Guard history that affected more directly the hearts, minds, and daily lives of all members of the United States Coast Guard.

The U.S. Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals had to review the Webster Smith case. It had no choice. Article 66 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, requires the Coast Guard Criminal appeals Court to review all cases of trial by court-martial in which the sentence as approved by the Convening Authority extends to dismissal of a cadet from the Coast Guard, and/or a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge, unless the accused waives appellate review. Webster Smith did not waive appellate review. He appealed his conviction. Oral arguments in the Case of The Appeal of the Court-martial Conviction of Cadet Webster Smith was scheduled for January 16, 2008 in Arlington, Virginia.

A legal brief filed by his lawyers claimed the convictions should have been thrown out because the defense team was not allowed to fully cross-examine one of his accusers during Smith’s court martial. They said that meant the jury didn’t hear testimony that the accuser, a female cadet, Shelly Roddenbush, had once had consensual sex with a Coast Guard enlisted man and then called it sexual assault. If she lied once, she very well could have lied again.

The Coast Guard Court of of Criminal Appeals is made up of Coast Guard Officers. It has the power to decide matter of both fact and law. Decisions of the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals may be appealed to the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces (CAAF). It is made up of five civilian judges, appointed to 15 year terms. It decides only issues of law. Its decisions may be appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. The Webster Smith Case followed this long and winding path all the way to the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of Webster Smith. The justices declined to hear the case without comment.

Webster Smith was proud of his decision to fight the good fight all the way to the end of the road. See TIME magazine June 29, 2006.

http://www.time.com/time/quotes/0,26174,1209244,00.html

https://www.amazon.com/author/cgachall.blogspot.com

 

Friends of Webster

Raised in the house, but field certified.    (http://www.friendsofwebster.com/?p=464)

Well this is interesting. Below is an excerpt from Judge London Steverson’s Book.

I agree with his purpose but I can’t say that I agree with his tone and portrayal. To this day, I don’t blame my peers. In a sense, we were all pawns. And if the tables were turned, I probably one have done the same thing to protect my career. Sad but true.

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://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?
(Read more at http://judgelondonsteverson.com)

CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and a Lady: A Case That Will Live In Infamy. The Conviction of Webster Smith. by Judge London Steverson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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. To his classmates, teachers, and coaches at the Coast Guard Academy 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.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 on trial. Everything that we profess to stand for as Americans was on trial. I am ashamed of our justice system. This was a tragedy and a travesty.

I wanted to know why Webster Smith was court-martialed? Now I know. This book is the full story.

AND THEN AN AMAZON LINK: Amazon.com
Tell me how it is. I am too focused to remember yesterday.

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

Sexual Assault Conviction Thrown Out By (CAAF) Court Of Appeals For The Armed Forces.

Sexual Assault Conviction Thrown Out By Armed Forces Court Of Appeals.

by London Steversonon Monday, March 12, 2012 at 10:51am ·

Captain Nicholas Stewart, USMC.

 

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces threw out this week the sexual assault conviction of Marine Captain Nicholas Stewart, citing issues with the prosecution as well as improper action by a military judge.

Stewart, who served as a fighter pilot in Iraq, was convicted of sexual assault under a 2006 law that enabled the military to make charges in cases in which the victim was “substantially incapacitated” from alcohol. Stewart was accused by a longtime friend who said although she was not forced by Stewart, she was too inebriated to have consented to sex. Stewart challenged the accuser, but was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. He was also registered as a sex offender.

As McClatchy reported Thursday, Stewart’s case was appealed, and the court found that the prosecution lacked evidence to support the accuser’s claims. The court also stated in its ruling that the military judge at Stewart’s initial trial had “created the framework for a potential double jeopardy violation” by having the jury re-deliberate the charges against Stewart. In the first deliberation, Stewart was found not guilty. However, when asked by the judge to consider what was essentially the same charge, the jury found the Marine to be guilty.

“As a result of the military judge’s instructions, [the jurors] were placed in the untenable position of finding Stewart both guilty and not guilty of the same offense,” wrote the appeals judges.

The 33-year-old Stewart, who had served more than a year of his sentence, expressed relief after the appeals court’s decision.

“I am grateful for this long-awaited proof of the integrity of our judicial system,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to serve our country and our Marine Corps.”

Stewart’s case illuminates issues that some have taken with the 2006 law. As McClatchy reported last year, the law has been described as “flawed” for its confusing language, as well as the fact that it shifts the burden of proof to the accused.

 

However, with recent Pentagon reports showing that sexual assault in the military has taken a dramatic rise, others worry that not enough is being done to prevent assault. After the report, which showed a 64 percent jump in assaults since 2006, was released, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced plans to create new initiatives aimed at curbing the growing problem.

Several cases invoking the 2006 law have made the news recently, including the charging of three Air Force cadets with sexual assault. Two of those cadets were charged with assaulting women who were “substantially incapacitated.” These cases were also reportedly complicated by a lack of forensic evidence.

 

Compare this case to the Webster Smith case and you will see how fickle this court can be. The Smith Case was appealed to the Supreme Court. Most Supreme Court watchers had expected the Supreme Court to hear the case or at the very least to give an explanation of why not. We were all sorely disappointed.

 

 

Coast Guard Academy Cadet Webster Smith

This Smith Case implicated a deep federal circuit conflict regarding the standard of review that applies when a trial judge’s restriction on the cross-examination of a prosecution witness is challenged on appeal as a violation of the Confrontation Clause. The Court of Appeals for the  Armed Forces (CAAF) held that the standard of review is abuse of discretion rather than de novo. Applying the former standard, the court rejected Webster Smith’s Confrontation Clause claim by a vote of 3-2.

The Courts Of Appeals Are Deeply Divided Over What Standard Of Review Applies To Confrontation Clause Claims Like Webster Smith’s. The CAAF employed abuse-of-discretion review in resolving Smith’s Sixth Amendment challenge to the military judge’s restriction on the defense’s cross-examination of Shelly Roddenbush. That approach conflicts with the holdings of five circuits, which consider comparable Confrontation Clause claims de novo, reserving abuse-of-discretion review for non-constitutional challenges. For example, the Seventh Circuit has stated that “[o]rdinarily, a district court’s evidentiary rulings are reviewed for abuse of discretion.

However, when the restriction [on cross-examination] implicates the criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him, … the standard of review becomes de novo.”

The First, Fifth, Eighth, and Tenth Circuits have adopted the same approach.

Six other circuits, by contrast—the Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Eleventh, and District of Columbia Circuits— Take  the same approach that CAAF does, applying abuse-of-discretion review even when a restriction on the cross-examination of a prosecution witness is attacked on constitutional grounds. The Sixth Circuit, for example, stated in one case that “[defendant] argues that his right to confrontation was violated when the trial court ‘unfairly’ limited his cross-examination of [a] government witness .… We review the district court’s restriction on a defendant’s right to cross-examine witnesses for abuse of discretion.”

In short, CAAF’s use of an abuse-of-discretion standard in the Webster Smith Case perpetuated a clear—and recognized—conflict in the circuits.

The Question Presented Was Recurring And Important, And The Smith Case Was A Good Vehicle For Deciding It.

The circuit conflict warranted resolution by the Supreme Court. It was indeed a sad day for Supreme Court watchers when that court of Last Resort side stepped an issue of monumental importance without a word of explanation.

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I Will Fight No More Forever.

I Will Fight No More Forever.

America‘s fighting men have come in many guises, shapes and sizes. They have had to fight all of America’s enemies, both foreign and domestic. Cadet Webster Smith had to fight his own senior officers, friends, and mentors. In the end he was proud. He had fought the good fight. Even TIME magazine carried the quote of the first cadet in Coast Guard history to be tried by a General Court-martial.

http://www.time.com/time/quotes/0,26174,1209244,00.html

Less than 60 days after the verdict was rendered in the Webster Smith case, I predicted that the case would make it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court justices are not elected. They are appointed with the advice and consent of the Congress. The Nine Justices of the Supreme Court are the least democratic branch of the federal government. They have no constituency. They do not have to conform to the biases of the majority. They are the Court of Last Resort; so, they are infallible. With few exceptions, they have dealt evenhandedly with all of America’s citizens.

They do not have to sit for re-election. They are appointed for life. They are totally isolated from busy bodies on the Right or Left Side of the political spectrum. With one stroke of the pen, they may act to curb injustices, correct unsavory attitudes, and breathe new life into a living Constitution.

Historically we have looked to them to solve our most vexing social problems. They are America’s ultimate arbiters of justice; and, that includes military justice.

Aside from the Webster Smith Case, I cannot think of any case or incident in Coast Guard history that affected more directly the hearts, minds, and daily lives of all members of the United States Coast Guard.

The U.S. Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals had to review the Webster Smith case. It had no choice. Article 66 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, requires the Coast Guard Criminal Appeals Court to review all cases of trial by court-martial in which the sentence as approved by the Convening Authority extends to dismissal of a cadet from the Coast Guard, and/or a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge, unless the accused waives appellate review. Webster Smith did not waive appellate review. He appealed his conviction. Oral argument in the Case of The Appeal of the Court-martial Conviction of Cadet Webster Smith was scheduled for January 16, 2008 in Arlington, Virginia.

A legal brief filed by his lawyers claimed the convictions should have been thrown out because the defense team was not allowed to fully cross-examine one of his accusers during Smith’s court martial. They said that meant the jury didn’t hear testimony that the accuser, a female cadet, Shelly Roddenbush, had once had consensual sex with a Coast Guard enlisted man and then called it sexual assault. If she lied once, she very well could have lied again.

The Coast Guard Court of of Criminal Appeals is made up of Coast Guard Officers. It has the power to decide matter of both fact and law. Decisions of the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals may be appealed to the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces (CAAF). It is made up of five civilian judges, appointed to 15 year terms. It decides only issues of law. Its decisions may be appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. The Webster Smith Case followed this long and winding path all the way to the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of Webster Smith. The justices declined to hear the case without comment.

Webster Smith was proud of his decision to fight the good fight all the way to the end of the road. See TIME magazine June 29, 2006.

http://www.time.com/time/quotes/0,26174,1209244,00.html

https://www.amazon.com/author/cgachall.blogspot.com

Categories: Military Justice | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Journalist Sues Obama To Prevent Indefinite Detention of American Citizens.

Here is a story you will not find in the mainstream media. You will not read it in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, or hear about it on CNN, MSNBC, or anywhere else.

Less than a month after the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed into law, President Barack Obama faces a lawsuit because of its highly controversial provisions regarding the detention of suspected terrorists.

Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint against Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta Friday in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on behalf of journalist Chris Hedges. The complaint states that the law violates the First and Fifth Amendments.

 

The $662 billion defense spending bill contained a controversial section that required terrorism suspects to be detained by the military without trial, regardless of where they were captured.

Despite language in the law that states it does not affect existing authorities relating to the detention of U.S. citizens or others captured within the U.S., Hedges claims that it still allows the government to detain Americans indefinitely without trial.

“I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge,” Hedges explains. “I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have ‘disappeared’ into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.”

 

While signing the bill, Obama issued a signing statement in which he pledged that the new laws would not violate Americans’ constitutional rights. But human rights advocates said that did not prevent future administrations from abusing the law.

The complaint alleges that Hedges could fall within the scope of the law. As part of his job as a journalist, he has direct communications with persons who are likely to be deemed engaged in hostilities with the United States. The detention provisions cover anyone who has “substantially supported” or “directly supported” “al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”

Hedges says that the controversial bill passed “because the corporations, seeing the unrest in the streets, knowing that things are about to get much worse, worrying that the Occupy movement will expand, do not trust the police to protect them. They want to be able to call in the Army. And now they can.

 

This will render null and void the Writ of Habeas Corpus, that is, Latin for  “you have the body” Prisoners often seek release by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody. A habeas corpus petition is a petition filed with a court by a person who objects to his own or another’s detention or imprisonment. The petition must show that the court ordering the detention or imprisonment made a legal or factual error. Habeas corpus petitions are usually filed by persons serving prison sentences. In family law, a parent who has been denied custody of his child by a trial court may file a habeas corpus petition. Also, a party may file a habeas corpus petition if a judge declares her in contempt of court and jails or threatens to jail her.

In Brown v. Vasquez, 952 F.2d 1164, 1166 (9th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 112 S.Ct. 1778 (1992), the court observed that the Supreme Court has “recognized the fact that`[t]he writ of habeas corpus is the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action.’ Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 290-91 (1969). ” Therefore, the writ must be “administered with the initiative and flexibility essential to insure that miscarriages of justice within its reach are surfaced and corrected.” Harris, 394 U.S. at 291.

The writ of habeas corpus serves as an important check on the manner in which state courts pay respect to federal constitutional rights. The writ is “the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action.” Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 290-91 (1969). Because the habeas process delays the finality of a criminal case, however, the Supreme Court in recent years has attempted to police the writ to ensure that the costs of the process do not exceed its manifest benefits. In McCleskey the Court raised barriers against successive and abusive petitions. The Court raised these barriers based on significant concerns about delay, cost, prejudice to the prosecution, frustration of the sovereign power of the States, and the “heavy burden” federal collateral litigation places on “scarce federal judicial resources,” a burden that “threatens the capacity of the system to resolve primary disputes.” McCleskey, 499 U.S. at 467.

The Court observed that”[t]he writ of habeas corpus is one of the centerpieces of our liberties. `But the writ has potentialities for evil as well as for good. Abuse of the writ may undermine the orderly administration of justice and therefore weaken the forces of authority that are essential for civilization.

The predominant inquiry on habeas is a legal one: whether the “petitioner’s custody simpliciter” is valid as measured by the Constitution.

The writ of habeas corpus is the procedure by which a federal court inquires into illegal detention and, potentially, issues an order directing state authorities to release the petitioner. As described by the United States Supreme Court, “its function has been to provide a prompt and efficacious remedy for whatever society deems to be intolerable restraint.

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Sexaul Assaults Return To Military Academies. Boys will Be Boys. Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

English: Cadets of the Air Force Academy Class...

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<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_2″>http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_2</a&gt;

To start the New Year with a bang, commanders at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on 5 January 2012 charged three Air Force Academy cadets with sexual assault in cases that occurred over the past 15 months.

The cases involve acts allegedly committed at the Academy, and involve civilian women as well as female cadets.

In November 2011, Cadet Stephan H. Claxton is alleged to have unzipped the fly of a female cadet while she was “substantially incapacitated” — a phrase the military has used in the past to describe intoxication.

Cadet Claxton faces assault and attempted rape charges, including an allegation that he forcibly kissed one cadet and assaulted another. He is also charged concerning an incident in March 2011, where he is accused of forcing a fellow cadet to touch his genitals and indulge in underage drinking.

Cadet Kyle A. Cressy, a graduating senior and a member of the soccer team, is charged having sex with a woman at the academy who was “substantially incapacitated.” It’s unclear from the charge sheet whether the alleged victim was a civilian or a female cadet.

Cadet Robert M. Evenson Jr. is alleged to have forcibly raped a female cadet in the spring of 2010. He’s also charged with breaking cadet regulations by having an ongoing relationship with a female freshman. He also is suspected of abusing his power position as a “cadet non-commissioned officer for honor cases” to extract sexual favors from a female fellow cadet. This is serious. He was charged with enforcing the Honor Code. he may have used it to supply gris for his mill. As one of the cadets entrusted with enforcing the Academy’s Honor Code, he would have been in a very coveted position.  He was expected to  punish those who lie, cheat, steal or tolerate others who do. Those who violate the Honor Code face a maximum punishment of expulsion from the Academy. Allegations of corruption in the Honor Code enforcement system will likely send shockwaves through the Cadet Corps and the Academy alumni. The Honor Code is the very touchstone of the Academy’s culture.

These charges come to light a week after the Pentagon reported a spike in the number of sexual assaults at the air Force Academy. There were 33 reported incidents in the 2010-2011 academic year. This is a four-fold increase in a two year span.

There are about 4,000 cadets at the Air Force Academy.  A senior academy spokesman said these charges don’t appear to mark a return of the level of incidents of sexual assault of 2003. In 2003 the Academy and the nation were rocked when dozens of female cadets reported incidents of alleged sexual assaults. Many of those cases were mishandled or ignored.

Several senior officers at the Academy were fired in the wake of the 2003 scandal. This resulted in congressional scrutiny to the issue of sexual assaults at all the nation’s military academies. There were courts-martial at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut  and the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Three were major reforms at those institutions.

The Coast Guard Academy court-martial of  Cadet Webster Smith marked the first time in history that a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy was given court-martial.  Some Coast Guard Academy graduates accused the Coast Guard of racial discrimination because the accused, Cadet Webster Smith, was African American and all of the accusers were white females. One of them was his girl friend who had become pregnant, and had an abortion more than six months before the Coast Guard decided to charge Cadet Smith with rape.

In the meantime it was learned that about 11 other cases of confessed rape had been resolved without resort to a court-martial. All of the other cadets were allowed to resign quietly and slip into darkness. All the other cadets were white. This is part of the reason that there were claims of bias and inappropriate command influence in the prosecution of Webster Smith.

The conviction was appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court. It is interesting to note that there were several ‘Friend of the Court‘ or ‘amicus briefs’ filed with the Supreme Court by senior military lawyers from other branches of the armed forces in favor of the reversal of the Webster Smith conviction. It set a very bad precedent and there were irregularities in the prosecution and the appellate review of the conviction. The case was thoroughly critiqued in a book available on Amazon.com. (See http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_2)

The Pentagon in a December 2011 report to Congress praised the Air Force Academy’s efforts to curb sexual assault in the ranks and gave the school high marks for its programs to encourage sexual assault reporting.

“[The academy] demonstrated commendable practices that should be considered for replication by other military service academies,” the Defense Department wrote in the report. The Coast Guard Academy had already implemented a new procedure for reporting and investigating sexual assaults in the wake of the Webster Smith case.

If any of these cadets get convicted, it would mark a reversal of fortunes for air Force prosecutors. Since the 2003 scandal, the academy has prosecuted a string of rape cases against cadets. But none of those cases has resulted in a conviction. Unlike the Coast Guard Academy, where one prosecution in 2006 resulted in one conviction and six months in jail for a graduating senior. (<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_2″>http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_2</a&gt;)

Recent rape trials at the Air Force Academy have almost always centered on the issue of ‘consent’. The defendant always used as a defense that the alleged victim gave her consent. He said she asked for sex. The cases were also marked by a lack of forensic evidence that could help sort out the conflicting claims. One can never be sure what a jury will decide in a case of ‘he-said, she-said’.

Categories: Military Justice, Social Security Benefits | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady

United States Coast Guard Academy - graduation...

Image via Wikipedia

If the USA is one big book club then the American Corner and the Steverson Collection Book Club must have been hoping that this would be the week that everyone was talking about “CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady”, Judge London Steverson’s most recent revelation concerning the trial and conviction of the first Coast Guard Academy cadet in the history of this small military academy in New London, CT..(www.judgelondonsteverson.com)

This case really made news and generated a lot of changes in the way sexual assaults are reported and investigated in the military academies. Read in full, this book is a new American Tragedy.  It has the virtues and limitations of Theodore Dreiser’s original American Tragedy: contemporary, still unfolding history, shadows of power, teenage binge drinking, inter-racial sexual encounters of the worst kind, and immorality at the highest levels of the military. That means an all knowing, seemingly eyewitness, mind-reading author; an unbelievable dialogue of incrimination and recrimination, back and forth he-said, she-said. One is left with the unmistakable feeling that someone must be telling the truth, but who?

If the male cadet-accused is, then the female cadet-accuser is a woman of easy virtue times two. Also, she would have to be a pathological liar.

If the female cadet-accuser is telling the truth, then the accused male cadet is a Jim Dandy, smooth, athletic, lady’s man, who finally gets hoisted on his own petard.

This book is non-fiction, and it is based on a true story. It is an analysis of the latest bomb to come out of the annals of inter-class, inter-racial, misconduct at the Coast Guard Academy.

Analysis, background, and exposition necessarily take a back seat to exaggeration. There is no need to inflate the facts; this truth is more fascinating than fiction.

After showing that the accused is not the sexual predator that he was alleged to have been by senior officials, the book demonstrates how the justice system was used to pervert justice in a case of few complicated facts. This case actually went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

In addition to exposing the trial for what it was; that is to say, a kangaroo court; the author actually paints a detailed and accurate description of the real Coast Guard Academy sexual predator.

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

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