Saturday, February 17, 2018

Unlawful command influence decision

The U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals has handed down an important ruling on unlawful command influence in the hazing case of United States v. Ortiz. Excerpt:
MajGen Smith’s statements suggest that he was personally offended by those alleged to have violated his hazing policy. He repeatedly emphasized that he would show those accused of hazing who was really in charge. He was unwilling to wait for the law enforcement investigative process to conclude before taking action against those accused of hazing. He equated the actions of those accused of hazing as a show of disrespect to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and their fellow Marines who had died while in service to the nation. He threatened to shut down all operational training in 1st MarDiv in order to address hazing if it continued. And most troubling, he let everyone know that he was personally offended by those who were accused of hazing, because they had “just . . . flipped [him] the bird” and he was headed their way to show them how unwise that decision and action was within his command. The timing of all of these actions coincided with the appellee and twenty other Marines being placed into pretrial confinement on allegations of hazing. Having considered the totality of the actions taken and statements made by MajGen Smith—and considering their demeanor, tone, and context—we agree with the military judge’s conclusion that a reasonable person would impute to MajGen Smith a disqualifying personal, rather than official, feeling or interest in the outcome of the appellee’s case. [Footnote omitted.]
For some unstated reason, the court issued the decision as nonprecedential. 

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