Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Haditha cases continue to roil the military justice waters

The legal aftermath of Haditha continues. As noted here last week, 1stLt Andrew Grayson was aquitted at a court-martial of two specs of making false official statements, two specs of attemtped fraudulent separation from the service, and one additional spec that based on media reports appears to have been obstructing justice. Here's a link to a lengthy AP article on the case.

The Marine Corps chose not to court-martial four enlisted Marines allegedly involved in the Haditha incident. Two courts-martial remain. One if that of SSgt Frank Wuterich, which is currently the subject of an Article 62 appeal seeking to reverse the military judge's ruling quashing a subpoena issued to CBS. The other is the case of LtCol Jeffrey Chessani. The military judge in the Chessani case is scheduled to rule on an unlawful command influence motion on 16 June. If the case proceeds to trial, it is scheduled to start on 21 July.

We previously discussed the military judge's preliminary ruling in Chessani finding sufficient evidence to require the government to rebut the defense's UCI claim.

As this report in the Marine Corps Times discusses, General Mattis took the stand on 2 June and denied that "he was influenced by an investigator when he made the decision to charge [LtCol Chessani] with failing to investigate the killings of 24 Iraqi men, women, and children." How many times has a four-star general been a witness in a court-martial case?

Here's a link to an interesting discussion of the case on the web site of the Thomas More Law Center, which is representing LtCol Chessani. The Thomas More Law Center thought it significant that unlike General Mattis, IMEF CG (and MARFORCENT Commander) Lieutentant General Helland didn't testify. Here's a very pro-defense discussion of the case, again highlighting LtGen Helland's failure to testify on the UCI motion. It quotes the head of the Thomas More Law Center as saying: "The prosecution made a colossal blunder not calling Lt. Gen. Helland to testify. . . . [The military judge] has already decided there is evidence of inappropriate command influence and it is now the prosecution's burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it didn't occur. Without Helland's testimony to corroborate Mattis they failed to meet that burden."


Anonymous said...

Not taking sides on the merits of the case - but how can the law firm representing LtCol Chessani make such extra-tribunal statements, aren't they bound by the Navy JAG's Rule of Prof Resp 3.6?

Anonymous said...

When has lack of corroboration failed in a situation like this?

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the NMCCA denial of the Writ was not discussed by the defense.