In The News

Navy SEAL wrongly convicted of sex crimes due to political correctness, retired admiral asserts.
By Carl Prine


Navy SEAL accused of sexual assault is denied special investigator to probe Pentagon meddling.
By Rowan Scarborough


Pentagon brass improperly interfered in Navy SEAL's sexual-assault case, retired admiral claims
By Rowan Scarborough


Navy officers convicted of corruption in "Fat Leonard" scandal haven’t lost their pensions.
By Craig Whitlock


Air Force officer faces court-martial on rape and other charges
By Stephen Losey


Legal experts cast doubt on fired XO and CO's mast
By David Larter


Pentagon: Admiral's remarks were not illegal lobbying
By David Larter


Experts: CNO nominee erred, but didn't break lobbying rules
By David Larter


The strange case of Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin
By David Larter


No disciplinary discharge for chaplain battling dementia
By Kevin Lilley


FBI Reamed by Concussed Trainee
By Britain Eakin


Sailor still imprisoned despite court victory in Navy rape case.
By Michael Doyle


In early November 2013, Mr. Sheldon filed an application with the Air Force Board for the Correction of Military Records (AFBCMR) challenging a cadet’s disenrollment from the Air Force Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program (AFROTC). The application raises serious questions about the fairness and legality of the cadet’s disenrollment and seeks removal of all documentation related to the cadet’s disenrollment and the cadet’s immediate commissioning.


Mr. Sheldon appeared on Crosstalk as an expert in military law: CrossTalk: The passion of Bradley Manning


Appeals Court orders Marine Corps to show cause

Shortly after Mr. Sheldon filed a petition for a writ of coram nobis with United States Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court ordered the Marine Corps to show cause as to why relief should not be granted. Mr. Sheldon filed the petition on behalf of a Marine who pleaded guilty at a special court-martial five years before, served his sentence and was given a bad conduct discharge. The Marine, who was born in a foreign country and relocated to the United States at a young age, now faces deportation under federal immigration law. Given the nature of the Marine’s status, Mr. Sheldon sought relief under the rare writ of coram nobis which provides a narrow avenue to collaterally attack military court actions based on the existence of fundamental errors. Given the extraordinary nature of such cases, securing a show cause order from the Court surpasses a major hurdle. Mr. Sheldon is currently awaiting the Marine Corps’ response.


Mr. Sheldon challenges ABCMR decision in federal court

On October 16, 2013, Mr. Sheldon filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Secretary of the Army challenging the legality of an Army Board for Correction of Military Records (ABCMR) decision. In 2008, on behalf of a staff sergeant, Mr. Sheldon filed an application with the ABCMR alleging errors in his records that resulted in repeated promotion denials by the Army Standby Advisory Board (STAB). The ABCMR found in favor of the staff sergeant and ordered that his records be corrected and placed before a reconstituted STAB. However, the STAB failed to implement the ABCMR’s directives and denied his promotion based on the same erroneous and incomplete records. Mr. Sheldon sought reconsideration from the ABCMR who returned the request without action in order to have the STAB finally properly consider the staff sergeant’s records. The ABCMR specifically told the staff sergeant that if he remained unsatisfied with the STAB’s decision, he could resubmit an application to the ABCMR. When the STAB met, the board once again failed to properly consider the records in accordance with the ABCMR’s directive. Mr. Sheldon again petitioned the ABCMR for reconsideration. Contrary to the ABCMR’s previous instructions, the Board rejected the request as untimely. The complaint alleges the ABCMR’s actions violated the Administrative Procedures Act and seeks a decision from the Court holding the ABCMR’s decision unlawful.


Briefing completed in major appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

In March 2013, the Law Offices of David P. Sheldon completed the briefing phase of an appeal before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeal involves a retired Air Force brigadier general whose name was removed from the major general promotion list after being nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The officer sought relief from through the Air Force Board for the Correction of Military Records (AFBCMR) process which resulted in the Secretary of the Air Force, by delegation, granting favorable relief in the form of retroactive promotion. However, each time, the Department of Defense (DoD) interfered and forced the Air Force to rescind the favorable relief.

Arguing that DoD acted unlawfully, Mr. Sheldon filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in an effort to reinstate the AFBCMR’s decision. Unfortunately, the court issued an unfavorable ruling. Mr. Sheldon appealed to the D.C. Circuit.

This case has broad implications because it strikes to the heart of military correction boards’ statutory authority to grant favorable relief without outside interference by DoD officials who might disagree with the service secretaries’ judgment. The case will now move to oral arguments before the D.C. Circuit issues a decision.

Mr. Sheldon is joined by Edward F. Rodriguez, Jr. Brig Gen, USAFR (Ret), Brian D. Schenk, and Michael T. Rose. In addition, the Air Force Association filed a brief of amicus curiae in support of the appeal.

UPDATE: The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has scheduled oral arguments for September 16, 2013. Mr. Sheldon is eager for the opportunity to appear before a distinguished panel of judges and to argue for his client.


In May 2013, the Law Offices of David P. Sheldon completed briefing in an appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Mr. Sheldon represents an Army National Guardsman who completed twenty years of guard service—over seventeen of which were active federal service. The guardsman was separated after a Qualitative Retention Board (QRB) did not select him for retention. Mr. Sheldon first took the case to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records (ABCMR) arguing, in part, that the QRB violated binding Army regulation requiring the QRB to reconsider a guard member’s records when it is shown that the records initially before the board contained material error. The ABCMR denied the application and Mr. Sheldon subsequently sought judicial review of the ABCMR’s decision in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. After the district court ruled in favor of the Army, Mr. Sheldon appealed the decision.

UPDATE: The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard oral arguments August 6, 2013.


In April 2013, Mr. Sheldon completed the discovery phase in a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) against the United States Air Force in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. The case involves a 100% disable veteran who was attacked by a military police dog at Nellis Air Force Base after attempting to enter the base for emergency health care.


In April 2013, Mr. Sheldon represented an Army National Guard Captain who faced involuntary separation from the Guard and the loss of their security clearance. This matter was brought to Mr. Sheldon less then one week before the Guard planned to take action. Swift and effective intervention resulted in the reversal of all separation action and the Captain retained their security clearance.


In December 2012, through Mr. Sheldon's representation, the Board for Correction of Naval Records ruled in favor of a Navy lieutenant who had been discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The BCNR ordered the Navy to allow the lieutenant to re-commission and ordered the expungment of any adverse documents in the lieutenant's Official Military Personnel File.


In December 2012, Mr. Sheldon, who had represented an Army lieutenant for several years, was able to get the Army officer placed on the Permanent Disability Retired List at 30%, thereby guaranteeing him health care and benefits for the rest of his life. The officer had been previously convicted of involuntary manslaughter due to the officer's intoxication. Nonetheless, because of Mr. Sheldon's efforts the officer will receive an Honorable discharge and will permanently receive all benefits.


In November 2012, Mr. Sheldon negotiated a plea of guilty for a Coast Guard member who was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice. After extended negotiations, the member received only a sentence of 15 days confinement after and was discharged with a General under Honorable Conditions as a result of the pretrial agreement Mr. Sheldon secured.


In November 2012, a Captain (0-6) in the Public Health Service received a 60-day sentence to confinement for possession and use of cocaine and for driving a vehicle while drunk/impaired. The officer faced 12 years in jail, a dismissal and loss of all pay and allowances. Most importantly, the officer will retire from the Public Health Service thereby securing him pay and benefits for the remainder of his life.


In December 2012, at a vigorously contested General Court-Martial of an Army soldier in Kaiserslautern, Germany, the soldier was conceited of rape in violation of Article 120, UCMJ, 10 U.S.C. § 920. The soldier only received 12 months of confinement and a bad conduct discharge, however, the soldier is appealing the case because of clear error established under Mr. Sheldon's careful watch.


In October 2012, Mr. Sheldon represented a Marine at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia who was accused of an extensive history of domestic violence and with driving under the influence of alcohol. Through Mr. Sheldon's efforts, the Marine was separated with a General Under Honorable discharge, thereby guaranteeing the Marine would receive his VA benefits.


From June 2011 to October 2012, Mr. Sheldon represented an Air Force Major General in a federal district court action that alleged negligence on behalf of health care providers at then Walter Reed Army Medical Center. After successfully defeating two motions filed by the Army seeking dismissal of the case, Mr. Sheldon negotiated a six-figure settlement. In addition, the Army apologized to the Major General.

Privacy vs. public safety at issue in ex-cop’s suit against Navy

Former Charleston, S.C., police Officer Timothy M. Reed mobilized for war, more than once. Then the Navy shared some sensitive information and he was out of a job.

Now the resident of Goose Creek, S.C., is in federal court in Washington, challenging the military he once served. Money and several reputations are on the line, in a case that’s just been given new life.

"It really has cost him his job as a police officer," David Sheldon, Reed’s attorney, said of the Navy’s actions, adding that Reed may "not be employable again" in a police department.

Reed’s legal dispute, moreover, underscores the potential tensions between privacy rights and public protection, as well as the problems that can result when reservists return from the fight. More than 815,000 members of the National Guard and reserves, like Reed, have been mobilized since 2001. Every one has had to re-enter civilian life, sometimes with complications.

Reed, who was honorably discharged after 18 years of active-duty and reserve service, has alleged that Navy officials violated his privacy by telling the Charleston Police Department about an episode in which he was disciplined and underwent a psychological evaluation. He subsequently resigned from the police department in 2009, a move he now says he felt unjustly pressured to make.

"The Navy," Sheldon said, "seems to have a serious problem complying with the Privacy Act."

The legal question is whether Navy officials violated the federal law meant to protect sensitive personal information. Generally, personnel records can’t be disclosed without the individual’s consent, but there are exceptions for law enforcement purposes.

Reed is asking for $950,000 in damages and he’s said he also wants Navy officials disciplined. The Navy, represented by the Justice Department, denies all his charges. Reed filed a related suit against the city of Charleston, but he dropped it in June on the eve of a jury trial in South Carolina. City officials say he misled them about what happened to him in the service.

A federal judge in Washington, though, agreed Oct. 19 to let Reed’s case against the Navy proceed. The police department’s internal affairs investigation of Reed "might never have been opened if (a Navy official) had not made the initial disclosures," U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle wrote.

Huvelle’s ruling set the stage for a trial to begin next Monday.
Reed, who couldn’t be reached to comment, joined the Navy in November 1990. He trained as a master at arms, or law enforcement specialist, and carried the work into the civilian sector when he was hired as a Charleston police officer in 2000 while serving in the reserves. In the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Reed was mobilized three times. Each time, after being demobilized, he returned to police duty.

In January 2009, Reed was mobilized a fourth time for an expected yearlong service in Iraq. He left to train at the Army’s Fort Lewis, in Washington state, where things didn’t go well.

While at Fort Lewis, Reed was accused of pointing his M-16 rifle at two airmen and pointing a spring-loaded, serrated knife at a third trainee. Reed called the charges "lies and fabrications," according to court documents.

A senior Navy enlisted man contacted the Charleston Police Department about the case and alarmed Reed’s civilian supervisors.

For Reed’s alleged actions at Fort Lewis, the Navy reduced his rank from E-6 to E-5, or petty officer second class. He was also demobilized early, leading him back to his old job in Charleston. Police department officials, though, initiated an internal affairs investigation into Reed’s conduct. He resigned, but then tried quickly – without success – to retract his resignation.

The Navy says that any information that a command master chief named David Carter shared with the Charleston Police Department was fully justified.

"If Carter disclosed Reed’s then-alleged misconduct to (Charleston), a local law enforcement agency, as part of his attempt to verify Reed’s employment and disciplinary history, Carter did so for the purpose of making the important decision whether to mobilize or demobilize Reed as an active duty reservist . . . whose deployment would have put him in charge of a number of junior sailors assigned to serve as detention facility guards," Justice Department attorney John Interrante wrote in a brief. Interrante said Reed’s decision to resign "was freely made rather than forced."

PHS Officer Challenges Jurisdiction of General Court-Martial

A United States Public Health Service officer who faces charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) has moved to dismiss the charges on grounds that the Court does not possess in personam jurisdiction and the court-martial panel itself is not comprised of a majority of officers from the Defendant's own service.

Under federal law, PHS members are only subject to UCMJ jurisdiction when they are assigned to and serving with the armed forces. By regulation, the PHS is required to notify members when an assignment subjects them to UCMJ jurisdiction and members must give their consent and acknowledgment of such jurisdiction. The motion asserts that the PHS failed to provide the officer with the mandatory notice prior to his acceptance to a transfer that would place him under UCMJ jurisdiction.

The motion further challenges the composition of the court-martial panel, arguing that because it fails to include a majority of PHS officers as required by law. If successful, all charges will be dismissed.

Federal Judge Rules Against Navy in Records Correction Board Case

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia recently granted summary judgment in favor of Air Controlman First Class who challenged a decision of the Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR). The plaintiff has spent nearly nineteen years seeking the removal of an injustice in his record and has been met with resistance at seemingly every turn.

The dispute continued in federal civilian court where Judge James Boasberg ultimately held that the BCNR had violated the Administrative Procedures Act and ordered a remand back to the Board for lawful consideration of the case. In addition, the court made other key holdings with respect to the jurisdictional parameters of federal court review of military correction board decisions and the level of deference that should be given to such decisions. The case sets important legal precedent that will prove vital to the success of future federal court cases.

Currently, the Law Offices of David P. Sheldon are preparing matters for the court-ordered remand in an effort to hold the Board accountable and finally secure the relief their client deserves.

Military Injustice: Crime-lab worker's errors cast doubt on military verdicts

Sunday, March 20, 2011

By Michael Doyle and Marisa Taylor | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Life-and-death questions shadow misconduct at the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, where investigators discovered that a lab analyst cut corners and falsified reports: Were the innocent convicted, and did the guilty go free?

The answer is troubling: In many cases, the destruction of evidence and the passage of time make it impossible to know.

"How do you resolve the question when you have no way, when the original samples have been lost and there is no way to retest them?" attorney Frank Spinner asked lab official Michael Auvdel at a July 2008 court hearing.

[more...]

Psy-Ops Scopes Senators, But a Cover-Up Could Be the Real Scandal

Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm

By TIME contributor Mark Benjamin | Swampland - TIME.com

Rolling Stone's Michael Hastings has penned another potential career-ender for a U.S. Army general. In this case, however, the most riveting aspect of Hasting's expose on Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops, isn't Caldwell's possible crimes, it is the alleged cover-up.

Hastings previously torpedoed the meteoric career of now-retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, after members of McChrystal's inner circle mouthed off to Hastings about senior members of the Obama administration, including the President.

This time, Hastings takes aim at Caldwell, the former top U.S. spokesman in Iraq, who is now in charge of training Afghan security forces. The central accusation against Caldwell isn't actually all that jaw dropping. Caldwell ordered a four-man team of Army psychological operations soldiers to help him prep for the visits of influential U.S. senators, including John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed and others. Caldwell wanted the psychological operations team to assemble basic background profiles, including voting records and interests, that would help them influence the senators to provide the Army with more troops in Afghanistan. (Carl Levin, one of those senators, released a statement Thursday saying he "never needed any convincing" on this point.

[more...]

Amy Robinson's grandmother slams killer's mental retardation claim

12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, April 20, 2008

By DEBRA DENNIS / The Dallas Morning News

debdennis@dallasnews.com

A decade after Amy Robinson was abducted, shot with pellets and left for dead, the fate of one of her two killers remains unsettled.

Michael Wayne Hall has appealed his death sentence, offering evidence that he is mentally retarded.

That has angered Ms. Robinson's family, especially her grandmother, Carolyn Barker of Grand Prairie. It is her granddaughter, Mrs. Barker said, whose own mental defect made her an easy target for Mr. Hall and his co-defendant Robert Neville Jr.

[more...]

In More Cases, Combat Trauma Is Taking the Stand

By Deborah Sontag and Lizette Alvarez | New Your Times | Sunday, January 27, 2008

When it came time to sentence James Allen Gregg for his conviction on murder charges, the judge in South Dakota took a moment to reflect on the defendant as an Iraq combat veteran who suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

"This is a terrible case, as all here have observed," said Judge Charles B. Kornmann of United States District Court. "Obviously not all the casualties coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan come home in body bags."

Judge Kornmann noted that Mr. Gregg, a fresh-faced young man who grew up on a cattle ranch, led "an exemplary life until that day, that terrible morning." With no criminal record or psychiatric history, Mr. Gregg had started unraveling in Iraq, growing disillusioned with the war and volunteering for dangerous missions in the hope of getting killed, he testified.

Nonetheless, the judge found that Mr. Gregg's combat trauma had not rendered him incapable of comprehending his actions when he shot an acquaintance in the back, fled the scene, and then pointed the gun at himself as a SWAT team approached - the helmeted officers "low crawling," Mr. Gregg testified, and looking "like my own soldiers turning on me."

[more...]

No Murder Charges Filed in Haditha Case

Four Marines to Face Lesser Charges After
Two-Year Inquiry Into Iraqi Killings

By Josh White - Washington Post Staff Writer | Friday, January 4, 2008

After a two-year investigation into the killings of up to 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq, the Marine Corps has decided that none of the Marines involved in the incident will be charged with murder. Instead, two enlisted Marines and two Marine officers will face trial in coming months for the killings and for failing to investigate them.

The most serious charges have been leveled against Marine Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, who is scheduled to be arraigned on charges of voluntary manslaughter in California next week, the last step before the case officially moves to trial.

Initially called a massacre by Iraqi residents of Haditha and later characterized as coldblooded murder by a U.S. congressman, the case has turned not on an alleged rampage but on a far more complex analysis of how U.S. troops fight an insurgency in the midst of a population they seek to protect.

The Marine Corps at first charged eight Marines and officers with murder or failing to investigate an apparent war crime. The charges have since been narrowed to four men in the unit, after three were cleared and a fourth was granted immunity to testify.

[more...]

Dog attack raises concerns over pet policies

By Trista Talton | Monday, December 10, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. - Amy Gaston didn't think twice about letting her 9-year-old daughter pedal her bicycle down the road to a friend's house.

After all, the family lived in base housing, well within the confines of Camp Lejeune, N.C. It's a place where youngsters still ride bikes to school with little fear of drug dealers or predators, and neighbors generally look out for each other.

But news from one of the neighborhood kids who came running up to her house on a late March afternoon in 2005 changed Gaston's perception of base housing - and changed her family's life.

The message was short: Ashley's hurt. She was bitten by a dog. She needs to go to the hospital.

Ashley had stopped at a friend's house to see if he could come out and play. Before she reached the door, the family's Rottweiler escaped from its poorly secured fence, grabbed Ashley's head in its powerful jaws and began to attack.

Two-and-a-half years later, Ashley still has nightmares. She has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She faces three, maybe four rounds of cosmetic surgery, but doctors say that mentally, she "just wouldn't be able to handle going through it yet," according to her mother.

[more...]

Navy Chaplain Pleads Guilty
HIV-Positive Priest Is Sentenced in Sex Case

By Ernesto Londoño | Friday, December 7, 2007

Quantico, Va. - Talk to the chaplain.

The words have long been a mantra for those in distress. But prosecutors say the authority the phrase suggests allowed Navy Lt. Cmdr. John Thomas Matthew Lee to prey on vulnerable lower-ranking male troops, some of whom he exposed to HIV.

"His selfishness was so strong he was willing to destroy the lives of others to make himself happy," Maj. Derek Brostek, the prosecutor, said yesterday, as Lee pleaded guilty at a court-martial to forcible sodomy, aggravated assault and other crimes and was sentenced to 12 years of confinement, all but two of them suspended.

Since 2004, Lee has used his position as a Catholic priest and his rank to obtain sexual gratification from at least three servicemen, according to the findings of the Marine Corps investigation outlined yesterday during the court-martial.

In 2004, at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, a midshipman struggling with academic and personal problems sought counsel from Lee. The two had dinner one night, and Lee invited the 20-year-old to his apartment. As they drank scotch and beer on the balcony, Lee began masturbating, the young man testified.

The young man, now an ensign, said he attempted to ignore it, until Lee initiated a sex act on him.

"I said I didn't want it," the ensign said. Lee continued, the ensign testified, telling him: "It's all right, it's all right."

[more...]

Plea Deal Expected In Military Sex Case
Chaplain Accused Of Abusing Power

By Josh White and Michelle Boorstein | Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Navy chaplain who is HIV-positive is expected to plead guilty this morning to charges that he used his positions at the U.S. Naval Academy and Marine Corps Base Quantico to lure midshipmen and Marines into sex acts, according to military officials and sources familiar with the case.

Marine Corps officials announced yesterday that Lt. Cmdr. John Thomas Matthew Lee, 42, who is a Catholic priest, is scheduled to face a court-martial at Quantico on charges that stem from several alleged incidents from 2003 to 2007. The charges include consensual and forcible sodomy for allegedly having sex with several men; indecent acts for allegedly posing for nude photographs; aggravated assault for not informing an alleged victim of his HIV status; and conduct unbecoming an officer.

It is unclear whether any of the men has been infected with HIV. But prosecutors allege that Lee, knowing he had tested positive for the virus in 2005, had sex with an Air Force lieutenant colonel in December of last year and exposed him to the virus without telling him.

In another instance, court documents also indicate that Lee fraternized with one midshipman over a two-year period after the student came to him for counseling and advice in 2004. Lee offered the underage midshipman alcohol, engaged in sex acts, asked him to take nude photographs of Lee and e-mailed him pornographic photos of naked men, according to the documents. The Washington Post generally does not identify victims of sex crimes.

Lee was a chaplain at the Naval Academy from September 2003 to October of last year, and investigators found that he had sex or inappropriate contact with several men, including some academy students who went to him for counseling after they were identified as homosexuals, the documents and sources indicate.

[more...]

Army Punished 2 Officers in '06 After Failures in Iraq Ambush

By PAUL von ZIELBAUER | Friday, May 18, 2007

An Army general relieved a company commander and a platoon leader of their commands last year after enlisted men were ambushed and killed by insurgents at an isolated observation post south of Baghdad in June 2006, Army officials said yesterday.

An Army investigation into the circumstances of the attack, which killed one soldier immediately and resulted in two others being kidnapped and later killed, concluded that they had been left for up to 36 hours without supervision or enough firepower or support to repel even a small group of enemy fighters.

The investigative report, by Lt. Col. Timothy Daugherty, a deputy brigade commander with the Fourth Infantry Division, which the soldiers were attached to at the time, recommended that the platoon leader and company commander be given written reprimands.

But Lt. Gen. James D. Thurman, the commander of American forces in Baghdad last year, went a step further, Army officials said, and relieved the company commander, Capt. John Goodwin, and the platoon leader, First Lt. Timothy Norton, of their duties.

"This was an event caused by numerous acts of complacency and a lack of standards at the platoon level," Colonel Daugherty wrote in a nine-page summary of his report. "The shortcomings of standards at the platoon level was compounded by company leadership that was not engaged in enforcing standards."

[more...]

Criminal Charges Dropped
against Officer in Hamdania Case

By: MARK WALKER - Staff Writer

CAMP PENDLETON - Criminal assault charges against a Marine Corps officer for his alleged treatment of insurgent detainees in Iraq have been withdrawn, but he will face administrative punishment for mishandling interrogations and could be discharged from the service.

The Marine Corps announced Tuesday that the assault charges against 2nd Lt. Nathan Phan were withdrawn last week by order of Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the convening authority over the case as head of Marine Corps forces in the Middle East.

"We are certainly happy this case is being resolved," David Sheldon, Phan's lead attorney, said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "Lt. Phan is obviously pleased and relieved."

Phan, 24, commanded a platoon from Camp Pendleton's 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, in Iraq's village of Hamdania last year. Eight men under his command were charged in June with the slaying of a retired policeman in Hamdania in April 2006, a killing that Phan was not accused of participating in or having any knowledge of before it occurred.

The investigation of the homicide case led to Phan being charged in August with three counts of assault and filing a false statement. The charges accused the Sacramento-area native of taking part in the beating of three insurgent detainees in the weeks before the homicide and misleading commanders on whether one of the detainees was still in his custody.

[more...]

Lawyer: Charges dropped against Marine

By THOMAS WATKINS, The Associated Press | Tuesday, May 1, 2007

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Military prosecutors have agreed to withdraw criminal charges against a Marine accused of beating of Iraqi detainees in exchange for testimony against three subordinates, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Marine 2nd Lt. Nathan P. Phan will acknowledge the assault at a less-serious administrative hearing and has agreed to testify against three Marines under his command who are accused of killing an Iraqi man. Phan is not accused in the slaying.

Phan, 26, is accused of beating, choking and threatening two men in March or April 2006 in the town of Hamdania during an interrogation.

Attorney David Sheldon said Phan will "accept responsibility for his actions" and "testify truthfully" against the three Marines in his platoon.

Sheldon said Phan acknowledges telling one of his men to place a detainee in a choke hold because he believed it was necessary to gather information from suspected insurgents, and pushing an unloaded pistol against the mouth of another detainee to frighten him.

"The information he gained from these terrorists was highly important and valuable in saving Marines' lives," Sheldon said.

Phan faced up to 10 years in prison had he been found guilty of assault at trial, Sheldon said. At the administrative hearing, he faces a reprimand, such as forfeiture of pay. He could also be referred to a separate hearing at which he could be discharged.

[more...]

Fighting Walter Reed After Fighting the War

By David Yancey | Sunday, April 8, 2007

I had a big anniversary last week. April 1 marked the end of two full years I've spent at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Like a lot of outpatients who've been here a long time, I was happy to see the Washington Post report about the lousy conditions and the delays and frustrations soldiers face when they're ready to leave the service. But the bureaucratic obstacles that injured soldiers have to fight through are still a problem, for me and a lot of others. Reforming the disability system that keeps us hanging around for no reason - a system so complex that it's all but impossible for soldiers to navigate it - is going to take longer than renovating Building 18.

I was hit while serving in Iraq with the Mississippi National Guard early in the spring of 2005. I was the gunner on a Humvee headed toward Baghdad. A bomb buried in the road exploded and tore our vehicle in half. The driver lost his legs. At the time, I thought I was lucky - the blast fractured my left femur, and severed the brachial artery and caused major nerve damage in my right arm. It also broke several ribs, collapsed a lung and caused traumatic brain injury. Three days later, I was in a place I'd never heard of until I woke up there: Walter Reed.

For the first year, through several surgeries, I felt that the medical staffers knew what they were doing, even though they did seem eager to move soldiers out of the hospital. Living in Mologne House, the Army's hotel at Walter Reed, I tried to cope with a manual wheelchair that I could barely move. I nearly lost my arm a second time when it got caught in the door to my room, rupturing my brachial artery again. My arm filled with blood, but the doctors were able to save it. Over time, with the help of physical therapists, I graduated from a wheelchair to crutches to a cane. Now, with a titanium rod in my leg, I walk with a limp.

I still can't make it more than a few blocks without needing to rest. I've lost strength in my right arm. I suffer from migraines, memory loss and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

[more...]

Hamdania Lieutenant Ordered to Court-Martial

By: MARK WALKER - NC Times Staff Writer | March 19, 2007

CAMP PENDLETON - A Marine officer who commanded a platoon charged with killing a civilian in Hamdania, Iraq, last year has been ordered to face a court-martial for the alleged assault of two other residents of the village.

Lt. Gen. James Mattis, commander of the I Marine Expeditionary Force and all Marines serving in the Middle East, made the decision in the government's case against 2nd Lt. Nathan Phan last week, said Maj. Jeff Nyhart, a Marine Corps spokesman.

It was announced on Monday, after Phan returned to Camp Pendleton after a leave and was served with the notice of court-martial, Nyhart said.

Mattis rejected a hearing officer's recommendation that Phan also be tried on a third count of assault and dismissed charges of making a false official statement and conduct unbecoming an officer for incidents occurring in Hamdania in March and April 2006.

Phan's lead attorney, David Sheldon, said he believes the 26-year-old will ultimately be exonerated.

"I believe he will be fairly judged on the facts and circumstances and will be vindicated," Sheldon said during a telephone interview from his offices in Washington, D.C. "We hope the case goes to trial by May because Lt. Phan is anxious to resume his Marine Corps career."

[more...]

Marine lieutenant could be ordered to trial for alleged assault of three Iraqi civilians

By: MARK WALKER - NC Times Staff Writer | February 27, 2007

CAMP PENDLETON - A Marine lieutenant accused of assaulting three Iraqi civilians last year should face a court-martial, a hearing officer is recommending.

Lt. Col. William Pigott makes that determination in a report filed this week with Lt. Gen. James Mattis in the case of 2nd Lt. Nathan Phan. Mattis must now decide whether to order Phan to trial.

The lieutenant was charged in August with assault, a case that arose during an investigation that led to a murder charge filed against eight men under his command last year in Hamdania, Iraq.

Phan was not charged in the homicide case, but stands accused of assaulting the three Iraqis in Hamdania in March and April 2006 while trying to get information from each about insurgent activity in the Anbar province area northwest of Baghdad.

Phan's lead attorney, David Sheldon of Washington, said Tuesday that he does not believe his client did anything wrong and that he will be acquitted if ordered to trial.

[more...]

Attorney: Accused Marine lieutenant is really a 'hero'

By: MARK WALKER - NC Times Staff Writer | January 28, 2007

CAMP PENDLETON - A Marine officer accused of assaulting three Iraqi civilians last spring is really a hero, a hearing officer was told Sunday.

"You have a young officer sitting at our end of the table who was trying to protect his Marines," defense attorney Lt. Col. Matthew Cord said at the conclusion of a hearing that will determine if 2nd Lt. Nathan Phan is ordered to face a court-martial. "He deserves a medal and they're trying to put a knife in his back."

Cord's comments came as the hearing for the 26-year-old Phan ended with the presiding officer, Lt. Col. William Pigott, saying he plans to recommend two investigations stemming from testimony that emerged during Phan's four-day Article 32 hearing.

Phan, a Kilo Company platoon commander from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, is charged with assaulting the three Iraqis in March and April during efforts to obtain information about insurgent activity in and around the Anbar province village of Hamdania in western Iraq. He also is accused of making a false official statement in connection with one of the alleged victims.

Pigott said he will ask Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis to order a formal inquiry into possible perjury and false official statements by three enlisted Marines who were in Iraq with Phan and were called as witnesses by his attorneys.

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Statement overstated what witness said, NCIS agent admits

By: Rick Rogers - Union-Tribune Staff Writer | January 26, 2007

Two weeks ago, a defense lawyer accused agents for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service of fabricating several witnesses' statements used to charge a Camp Pendleton Marine with assaulting three Iraqis.

Attorney David Sheldon's claims reverberated far beyond the assault case against 2nd Lt. Nathan P. Phan of Sacramento. They threw a spotlight on controversial NCIS practices such as not using audio recordings or videotaping to take statements from witnesses. Instead, the organization's agents generate the statements by typing up their interview notes and asking witnesses to sign them.

On Friday, the lawyer's accusations of fraud gained some traction when an NCIS agent reluctantly admitted that a statement overstated what a witness actually said.

In a Camp Pendleton courtroom, Special Agent Mike Austin testified that a statement prepared by fellow NCIS agent Aaron Bode went beyond what he heard during an interview with Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Faulkner in June.

Austin recalled Faulkner saying he could see someone choking a detainee, but that he didn't know who did the choking. In the statement prepared by Bode, Faulkner was quoted as saying that he saw Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins choking an Iraqi while Phan looked on.

Phan was Hutchins' superior, and both were part of the Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

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NCIS investigative methods come under fire over prosecution of Marine lieutenant

By: MARK WALKER - NC Times Staff Writer

NORTH COUNTY - The investigative practices of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service will be under scrutiny later this month when three of its agents are expected to take the stand in a Camp Pendleton courtroom to answer an allegation they fabricated parts of statements being used in the prosecution of a Marine lieutenant.

David Sheldon, an attorney for 2nd Lt. Nathan Phan, alleged Friday that the agents added information into the statements taken from three Marines last spring that said they saw his client taking part in the assault of Iraqi civilians. The information they added, Sheldon contends, was false.

Those same three Marines have since consented to a request from Phan's defense team to provide signed affidavits saying they never told the agents Phan assaulted anyone.

"The question has to be 'What would motivate these three Marines to lie,'" Sheldon said during a telephone interview Monday. "Why would they bother to make up these allegations?"

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Academy sex assault case won't go to civilian court

Air Force Times, Staff report, Friday Jan 12, 2007 10:26:47 EST

Civilian prosecutors said Wednesday they will not file charges against an officer accused of sexually assaulting a female cadet while both attended the Air Force Academy, according to The Associated Press.

Prosecutors said they weighed Colorado laws with the investigative reports on Capt. Joseph Harding, whose alleged assault on a fellow cadet in 2000 sparked a scandal at the academy.

Chief prosecutor Diana May said authorities concluded they could not meet the required burden of proof.

In September, a military judge dismissed a rape charge against Harding because the accuser's therapist refused to release her medical records on grounds that they were confidential.

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Iraqis Being Brought to Camp Pendleton
to Testify in Criminal Cases

By Mark Walker, North County Times, January 11, 2007

CAMP PENDLETON - The Marine Corps is working to bring four Iraqis to the U.S. later this month to testify in the cases of three Camp Pendleton Marines accused of assaulting Iraqi civilians in the village of Hamdania last year.

Chief Warrant Officer Wesley Wagner testified during an Article 32 hearing for 2nd Lt. Nathan Phan, accused of assaulting three Iraqis on April 10, that arrangement are being made to bring one of the alleged victims and three other witnesses to the U.S. later this month.

If the witnesses are brought to Camp Pendleton, they would be the first Iraqis to testify in the two criminal cases brought last year against members of a Kilo Company platoon from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

In June, the Marine Corps charged seven Marines and a Navy medical corpsman with murder in the April 26shooting death of a retired Iraqi policeman. In the course of that investigation, the alleged assault case emerged resulting the charges against Phan, a 26-year-old platoon leader from the Sacramento area.

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Hamdania Assault Case Reaches Court Today

By Mark Walker, North County Times, January 10, 2007

NORTH COUNTY - A court hearing for a Marine officer charged with assaulting three Iraqi civilians last year gets under way at Camp Pendleton this morning.

The Article 32 hearing for 2nd Lt. Nathan Phan will be presided over by Lt. Col. William Pigott, who will issue a recommendation following its conclusion as to whether he believes the case should move forward to court-martial.

Phan, 26, is charged with beating three Iraqis in the village of Hamdania on April 10 and later lying to investigators about what happened.

Phan's attorney David Sheldon maintains his client is innocent and that the charges arose out of what he said was misconduct by agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The Marine Corps has said its law enforcement agency learned of the alleged beatings during its investigation into the April 26 kidnapping and shooting death of a retired Iraqi police officer in Hamdania.

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Soldier Pleads in Iraq Rape, Murder Case

By Ryan Lenz, The Associated Press | Wednesday, November 15, 2006

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - One of four U.S. soldiers accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl last spring and killing her and her family pleaded guilty Wednesday and agreed to testify against the others.

Spc. James P. Barker agreed to the plea deal to avoid the death penalty, said his civilian attorney, David Sheldon.

The military judge presiding over the case, Lt. Col. Richard Anderson, asked Barker why he participated in the attack in Mahmoudiya, a village about 20 miles south of Baghdad. It was among the worst in a series of alleged attacks on civilians and other abuses by military personnel in Iraq.

"I hated Iraqis, your honor," Barker answered. "They can smile at you, then shoot you in your face without even thinking about it."

Sgt. Paul E. Cortez and Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, members of the 101st Airborne Division with Barker, also are charged in the case. Cortez deferred entering a plea during his arraignment Wednesday morning. Spielman will be arraigned in December. The fourth soldier, Pfc. Bryan L. Howard, also deferred entering a plea at his arraignment in October.

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GI Pleads Guilty In Iraq Rape-Slay

Confession Exchanged For Testimony Against Soldiers Accused Of Raping Teen Then Killing Family

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. | November 15, 2006

(AP) One of four U.S. soldiers accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl last spring and killing her and her family pleaded guilty Wednesday and agreed to testify against the others.

Spc. James P. Barker agreed to the plea deal to avoid the death penalty, said his civilian attorney, David Sheldon.

The military judge presiding over the case, Lt. Col. Richard Anderson, asked Barker why he participated in the attack in Mahmoudiya, a village about 20 miles south of Baghdad. It was among the worst in a series of alleged attacks on civilians and other abuses by military personnel in Iraq.

"I hated Iraqis, your honor," Barker answered. "They can smile at you, then shoot you in your face without even thinking about it."

Sgt. Paul E. Cortez and Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, members of the 101st Airborne Division with Barker, also are charged in the case. Cortez deferred entering a plea during his arraignment Wednesday morning. Spielman will be arraigned in December. The fourth soldier, Pfc. Bryan L. Howard, also deferred entering a plea at his arraignment in October.

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Soldier to Plead Guilty in Iraq Rape and Killings

By PAUL von ZIELBAUER, The New York Times | Wednesday November 15, 2006

One of four Army infantrymen charged with raping a 14-year-old girl last March in Iraq and then killing her and her family will plead guilty today in a military court in Kentucky, his lawyers said.

The plea to charges of rape and premeditated murder will make the soldier, Specialist James P. Barker, 23, the first to resolve the charges against him in one of the most gruesome cases of illegal killings of Iraqi civilians.

Specialist Barker and three other members of Company B of the First Battalion, 502nd Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, were each charged with raping the girl and killing her, her parents and her 7-year-old sister in the family's home in Mahmudiya, southwest of Baghdad, a volatile area known among American soldiers as the "triangle of death."

Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, Pfc. Bryan L. Howard and Sgt. Paul E. Cortez are also charged with rape, premeditated murder and arson; military prosecutors accused them of burning the teenager's body with kerosene in an effort to conceal evidence. A fifth soldier, Sgt. Anthony W. Yribe, is charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the crimes.

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Guilty Plea Expected in Iraq Rape Trial
Soldier Won't Face Death Penalty in Deal

By Josh White, Washington Post Staff Writer | Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A U.S. Army soldier who is accused of taking part in a plan to rape an Iraqi teenage girl and murder her family in March is scheduled to plead guilty today to numerous charges in a military court in Kentucky, the soldier's civilian lawyer said yesterday.

Spec. James P. Barker would be the first soldier involved in the gruesome rape and killings in Mahmudiyah to publicly take responsibility for the attack, which shocked both the U.S. military and the Iraqi community where the family lived. Prosecutors say the soldiers raped and killed a 14-year-old girl and gunned down her parents and 4-year-old sister.

Barker has agreed to testify against others who were involved, said David Sheldon, a Washington-based military defense lawyer. As part of his plea deal, Barker will not face the death penalty, Sheldon added, but he could receive life in prison on charges that include murder, rape and arson.

"Specialist Barker wanted to take responsibility for his role in the crimes that he committed with these other soldiers," Sheldon said. "He will cooperate fully with the prosecution."

Barker, who is also represented by Capt. James D. Culp, plans to plead guilty at Fort Campbell today, Sheldon said.

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Troops to Face Courts-Martial on Charges

By RYAN LENZ, Associated Press Writer | Wednesday October 18, 2006

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Eight soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division were ordered Wednesday to be court-martialed on murder charges stemming from their service in Iraq, and two could get the death penalty for allegedly raping a 14-year-old and killing her and her family.

The Fort Campbell soldiers facing the death penalty are Sgt. Paul E. Cortez and Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman. Both are accused of raping Abeer Qassim al-Janabi in her family's home in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, then killing the girl, her parents and younger sister.

Spc. James P. Barker and Pfc. Bryan L. Howard are also accused in the rape and murders but will not face the death penalty, the military said in a statement.

Barker's attorney, David Sheldon in Washington, D.C., said that Barker has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their case against others, including former Army Pvt. Steven Green, who was discharged for a personality disorder and arrested in North Carolina.

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U.S. military trials ordered in Iraq murder cases

By Kristin Roberts, Reuters | Wednesday, October 18, 2006; 5:45 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. service members will face military trials in three separate cases for the murders of Iraqi civilians, including the gang rape and murder of a teenage girl and the killing of her family in their home in Mahmudiya, the military said on Wednesday.

An Army general ordered the court-martial of four soldiers in the Mahmudiya case and said two of the four could face death if found guilty. One of the accused will testify against the others, according to his Washington attorney, David Sheldon.

Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Turner also ordered military trials for four other soldiers accused of murdering three Iraqi detainees during a raid on a suspected insurgent camp near Thar Lake, southwest of Tikrit.

In the third case, three U.S. Marines will be tried on murder charges in the death of an Iraqi grandfather kidnapped from his house in Hamdania in the middle of the night, the U.S. Marine Corps said.

Those cases, particularly the alleged Mahmudiya gang rape, as well as the killing of 24 people in Haditha, have sparked outrage among Iraqis. Mahmudiya led Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to call for a review of foreign troops' immunity from Iraqi prosecution.

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Military Drops Charge vs. Air Force Grad

By ELIZABETH WHITE, The Associated Press | Friday, September 29, 2006; 8:58 PM

SAN ANTONIO - The military on Friday dismissed a rape charge against an Air Force Academy graduate whose case was on hold because of a therapist's refusal to turn over the accuser's medical records.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Marc E. Rogers issued the dismissal against Capt. Joseph Harding, who had been accused of raping the woman at the Colorado academy in 2000. He maintains his innocence.

Rogers is the commander of 19th Air Force at Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, where the court proceedings were being held.

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Witnesses Tell of Troop Stress Before Attack

Colleagues recall the despair of U.S. soldiers accused of raping an Iraqi girl and killing her family. That's no excuse, prosecutors say.

By Louise Roug, Times Staff Writer | August 9, 2006

BAGHDAD - U.S. soldiers accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her along with her family suffered from tremendous stress and were ultimately not responsible for the alleged massacre, defense attorneys said Tuesday, as final arguments began in a hearing to determine whether the men should face a court-martial.

But a prosecutor attacked the contention, saying the adverse conditions of war couldn't explain away crimes.

"Murder, not war. Rape, not war - that's what we're here talking about today," Capt. Alex Pickands said in final arguments. "Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl."

Pickands' comments followed testimony describing sleepless nights and despair among soldiers assigned to patrol one of the most lawless areas in Iraq.

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Soldiers Plan to Argue Rape Tied to Distress

Iraq Checkpoint Among 'Most Stressful'

By Josh White, Washington Post Staff Writer | July 21, 2006

Attorneys for Army soldiers accused of raping an Iraqi teenager and killing her and her family in March are planning to argue that the men were under extreme emotional distress because of the horrors of their combat assignment and will probably challenge the alleged confessions some of the soldiers gave to investigators in Iraq.

David Sheldon, a civilian lawyer who is representing Spec. James P. Barker, said yesterday that B Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment was devastated by numerous combat casualties and repeated violent attacks in and around Mahmudiyah before and after a group of soldiers allegedly attacked the Iraqi family March 12. Sheldon said the men were placed at a traffic checkpoint "in one of the most stressful environments imaginable" and that commanders failed to recog

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Judge Questions Rape Case Records Holdup

Associated Press, By ELIZABETH WHITE | July 12, 2006 PM

A judge in the trial of an Air Force Academy graduate charged with rape demanded to know Wednesday why medical records of his accuser had not been obtained as he ordered more than a year ago.

The judge halted the court-martial of Capt. Joseph Harding in June 2005 because a civilian therapist for the woman who claims she was raped would not hand over the documents. Harding is accused of raping the woman at the Colorado academy in 2000.

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Defense: Inaction by feds is cause to toss rape case

By Howard Pankratz, Denver Post Staff Writer

The AFA grad's attorney says a therapist he thinks has vital details should be arrested by U.S. Marshals.

The lawyer for an Air Force Academy graduate accused of raping a fellow cadet argued Wednesday that the case should be dismissed because U.S. Marshals refuse to arrest a Colorado Springs therapist that the defense believes has information about the case.

David Sheldon, attorney for Capt. Joseph J. Harding, made the arguments at a hearing at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

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Soldier Acquitted in Shooting of Iraqi

Associated Press | May 27, 2005

FORT HOOD, Tex., May 26 - An Army staff sergeant was acquitted of murder Thursday in the death of an unarmed Iraqi he said he shot to save a fellow soldier.

A jury of four soldiers and two officers deliberated for less than three hours before finding Staff Sgt. Shane Werst not guilty of premeditated murder. He had faced a maximum of life in prison without parole.

Before the jury announced the verdict, the judge found Werst innocent of obstruction of justice, so the jury's verdict on that charge was not revealed. Col. Theodore Dixon said he decided to rule on that charge.

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Academy Rape Trial on Hold: Judge's Action Follows Refusal of Therapist to Turn Over Notes

By Howard Pankratz, Denver Post Staff Writer | June 25, 2005

[Randolph Air Force Base, Texas] - A military judge on Friday decided to indefinitely postpone an Air Force Academy sexual assault court­martial, after a civilian rape counselor refused to turn over her notes of conversations with the alleged victim.

Col. David Brash's ruling, released Friday morning, followed a day of closed hearings during which attorneys for 1st Lt. Joseph Harding argued they could not provide an adequate defense unless they knew whether civilian therapist Jennifer Bier had information relevant to the case in her notes.

"We believe this is appropriate and lawful," Sheldon said.

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Naples court hears girl describe alleged touching by sailor

By Sandra Jontz, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Wednesday, April 19, 2006

NAPLES, Italy - The girl at the center of a case against a chief petty officer charged with indecent acts with a minor meekly testified Tuesday about the alleged incidents, and never glanced at the man who once was a close family friend.

The girl, who was 12 years old at the time Chief Petty Officer Felix Correa allegedly fondled her, spoke slowly, her voice muffled as she propped her chin either in cupped hands or on the witness stand for most of her roughly two-hour testimony.

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West Point senior says he's innocent

By Greg Bruno on April 01, 2006

West Point - The senior cadet accused of raping two former U.S. Military Academy students while away on leave last year told the Times Herald-Record he has done nothing wrong.

In an e-mail response to questions, Lonnie A. Story wrote: "I am innocent." He did not elaborate.

His Washington, D.C.-based attorney, David P. Sheldon, said yesterday, "Cadet Story is not guilty of the charges that have been brought against him, and he will vigorously defend the charges."

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Army Rebukes Congressional Aide for Abu Ghraib Role

Associated Press
Saturday, March 11, 2006; Page A20

The Army has reprimanded a senior congressional aide who served in Iraq for his role in the abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison, his lawyer confirmed yesterday.

David P. Sheldon declined to discuss the exact reason for the punishment of Army Reserve Capt. Christopher Brinson, the deputy chief of staff for Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.).

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Pentagon Studies Raising Military Lawyers' Rank

By Josh White Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 21, 2005; Page A29

The Defense Department will evaluate whether it should raise the rank of the armed services' judge advocate generals (JAGS) to three-star positions after an independent panel of experts recommended giving the top military lawyers more power and authority within the Pentagon.

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Air Force to discharge officer for defacing cars

By Robert Weller
TThe Associated Press

DENVER - The Air Force Reserve is discharging a lieutenant colonel accused of causing thousands of dollars in damage by defacing cars bearing pro-Bush bumper stickers, his lawyer and military officials confirmed Friday.

Lt. Col. Alexis Fecteau, a pilot with 500 combat hours in the first Persian Gulf war and the Balkans, is charged with felony criminal mischief. He is accused of using paint stripper and grease to write "F--- Bush" in 18-inch-high letters on cars at Denver International Airport that had bumper stickers supporting President Bush and conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.

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Court Blocks Arrest of Counselor in Cadet Rape Case

Associated Press | June 12, 2005

[Denver, CO] - A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked the military from arresting a civilian counselor for refusing to turn over records of sessions with a former Air Force Academy cadet who said she was raped.

A lawyer for the counselor, Jennifer Bier, said there was a stay in place until Wednesday.

The government has until then to file a brief, the lawyer, Wendy Murphy, said Saturday.

Lawyers for First Lt. Joseph Harding, who is accused of raping two cadets while attending the academy, including Ms. Bier's patient, had won a military court order requiring Ms. Bier to turn over her records.

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U.S. military prosecution, step by step
Court-martial similar to civilian court process

CNN | May 13, 2004, 3:50 PM EDT

The military legal system is dictated by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a federal law that sets the foundation of U.S. military law.

First, the accused person's commander recommends charges and forwards them to a special court-martial convening authority, usually a senior officer, according to David Sheldon, a military law expert and former military defense attorney. That officer, or authority, normally oversees the trial from beginning to end.

The authority reviews the material and orders a hearing - known as an Article 32 hearing - to determine if the charges merit a general court-martial.

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Army demotes recruiter of teen -
Sergeant admits 'poor judgment' in pursuing undercover student.

By John Aguilar, Rocky Mountain News | August 31, 2005

An Army recruiter from Golden was demoted Tuesday after admitting he encouraged an Arvada West High School student to create a fake diploma and use a drug detox kit so the student could join the Army.

Sgt. 1st Class Eric Mulero's rank was reduced to staff sergeant, a move that carries a one-grade cut in salary, from around $39,000 to $34,300 a year.

"I know I'm a good soldier," said Mulero after pleading guilty during a summary court-martial at the Military Entrance Processing Station in downtown Denver.

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Court Upholds Ruling that Stopped Military Rape Trial

Associated Press | Aug. 17, 2005, 11:30PM

SAN ANTONIO - A military appellate court denied a bid by prosecutors to reverse a lower ruling that shelved a rape charge against an Air Force Academy graduate accused of assaulting a fellow cadet five years ago.

A three-judge panel of the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in favor of the defendant, 1st Lt. Joseph Harding, in late July because the prosecution failed to file its appeal or seek an extension within the 20-day time limit stipulated under military justice rules.

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Sodomy Ruling Spurs Challenges To
Military's Policy on Gays

By Charles Lane, Staff Writer Washington Post | August 4, 2003

The first aftershocks of the Supreme Court's landmark decision striking down a Texas sodomy law have reached the U.S. military, where the ruling is sparking new court challenges to the armed forces' ban on openly gay personnel and other rules affecting sexuality.

A gay former officer is citing the ruling, known as Lawrence v. Texas, in a lawsuit challenging his dismissal from the Army. Another soldier is invoking Lawrence to fight his court-martial conviction for a sexual offense. And the Pentagon's own lawyers are pondering whether the case requires adjustments to military criminal law.

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