Sunday, February 17, 2008

U.S. district court vs. general court-martial

NIMJ's web site has a link to one of two motions filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in United States v. Steven D. Green. This motion argues that he should be tried by a court-martial, rather than in U.S. district court, on murder and rape charges arising from Iraq. The motion argues that Green was improperly discharged and that court-martial jurisdition is still available.


Christopher Mathews said...

Leaving aside the merits of the motion, it's very likely unique in its attempt to get an accused out of the civilian justice system and into Title 10.

John O'Connor said...

Three thoughts on this:

1. The victim is clearly an Iraqi national, as one of the charges is raping someone more than twelve but less than sixteen. That seems to eliminate the possibility that the victim is another soldier.

2. I assume that the accusede brought this motion based on his sense that courts-martial have not been particularly successful in dealing with crimes allegedly committed against Iraqi nationals. The other possibility is that the accused is playing ti cute and hoping either that the government won't try to court-martial him or he will turn around and try to assert to the military that a court-martial has no jurisdiction (a gambit destined to fail).

3. If the accused is banking on courts-martial being forgiving toward crimes against Iraqi nationals, he might be in for a surprise. I think courts-martial are probably very cognizant of the fog of war and uncertainties that exist when a soldier shoots an Iraqi national. While a soldier may very well shoot someone who posed no threat on the honest (but mistaken) belief that the victim posed a threat, there's no "I had to rape her because she might have been a terrorist" defense. And I suspect a members panel would be very negatively disposed toward such an accused if he were convicted.

Dwight Sullivan said...


The rape victim and all four murder victims (including the rape victim) were Iraqis. (The murder victims were the rape victim and her family.)

Green's four co-actors were all tried by court-martial. Their sentences (apparently after CA's action) were 5 years, 110 years, 90 years, and 100 years. So it seems to be the civilian attempt to obtain a death sentence that is driving this.

Anonymous said...

Most interesting is the defense argument about the accused not having been discharged. It will be interesting to see the gov't response.

Anonymous said...

Having represented one of the co-accused in this case, I have some insight. Green's PD is an exceptionally bright guy and has grasped the military aspects of this case well. This motion is an attempt to avoid the death penalty, and to make his client parole eligible.

Anonymous said...

But was there ever a final accounting of pay?