Saturday, December 5, 2015

De minimis non curat lex in Barbados

The Garrison
We so rarely get a chance to refer readers to anything from the Caribbean that this story concerning the court-martial of an ordinary seaman in the Barbados Coast Guard could not be resisted:
A Barbados Coast Guard soldier, who was charged with using insubordinate language to a superior officer, was freed this afternoon only after about ten minutes of deliberations by a three-member court martial. 
Ordinary seaman Christopher Broomes was found not guilty by the tribunal, presided over by its president Major Christopher Birch when it met in the Hodgson Hall Conference Room of the Barbados Defence Force Headquarters, St Ann’s Forte, The Garrison. 
It was alleged that on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, while at HMBS Pelican – Coast Guard Headquarters – at approximately 4.50 p.m., when instructed by Leading Seaman Adam Sealy not to leave the compound dressed in physical training (PT) attire, Broomes replied: “You can’t be meaning f…… me.” 
The ten year service officer was also charged with behaving in a manner unbecoming a sailor, but was only tried on the first count. 
After hearing all the evidence and arguments from the prosecution team led by Sub Lieutenant Rita Evans in association with Captain Andrew Darlington and the defence attorney Vincent Watson, tribunal president Birch, who is also a magistrate in the non-military court, chastised Broomes before giving the decision. 
“The Barbados Defence Force is a disciplined force. You cannot afford after ten years in the service to be [exhibiting] . . . bad manners, bad judgment and insubordination. 
“Once you have been told an order had been issued, it is for you to comply. Once you had heard the [executive officer] had said that no one was to leave in PT wear, that was the end of the issue as far as you are concerned . . . no debate, no discussion, no ‘I’m going to the the gate’”, contended the court martial president. 
In his decision, Birch declared: “That said, you are found not guilty and you are released. Carry on.” 
He then ordered the court martial closed without any reference to the second charge. 
The freed sailor and his attorney left the court smiling and paused for a photograph from the waiting Press. . . .
"Conduct unbecoming a sailor"? Blimey.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. There have been about 13 appellate cases under the UCMJ which reference the doctrine. In the majority it was argued or used to justify ignoring errors made by the prosecution.

    "Accordingly, I would affirm under principles of waiver, lack of prejudice, common sense, and the mighty legal doctrine of de minimus non curat lex." United States v. Edwards, 45 M.J. 114 (C.A.A.F. 1996)(Cox, J., dissenting).


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