Monday, March 26, 2007

C.A.A.F. decides United States v. Phillips

The Court decided United States v. Phillips today. For those who have been waiting fifty-six years for the C.A.A.F. to answer those burning questions about whether and when a substitute convening authority may execute a contingent fine, this case will make you wonder why you did not watch the moon landings instead.

Major Phillips, who was setting up shell companies and then paying "bills" with government credit cards to the tune of $400,000 USD, was sentenced to five years confinement, dismissal, a reprimand, and a $400,000 fine. The court-martial imposed an additional five years of confinement if Major Phillips failed to pay the fine. Days before he was to be released from confinement, a substitute convening authority with no previous connection to the case held a fine enforcement hearing. The hearing officer rejected Major Phillips's claim of indigence and the convening authority executed the additional confinement. The C.A.A.F. assures us that the convening authority was not a "substitute convening authority", but rather the "authority considering imposition of confinement" under R.C.M. 1113(d)(3). Problem solved. For the four or five convicted and confined servicemembers who have not paid contingent fines, who have internet access, who are not concerned with ex-parte communications with convicted servicemembers, and are reading this blog, there may be a convening authority somewhere that is watching. The mission to Mars is only a few years off.


Nathan Jessup said...

It appears Maj Phillips may have had the ability to pay his fine from the assets he accumulated through his crimes, CAAF noted he engaged in asset shifting presumably to avoid having to pay the fine from his assets. In the run of thhe mill case it would seem the exact popsite should be the presumption in a fine enforcement hearing. How would any soldier/sailor/Marine have the ability to pay a fine while in confinement. It appears Maj Phillips fine hearing was based on his failure to pay while confined. How does PFC Loudon Downey after 2
years in the brig have the ability to pay anything? Maybe a presumption of indigence would be a better system, the Govt in Phillips would have rebutted it.

Bill Cassara said...

I figure the major just thought it would be better to do more time and keep his ill gotten gains.