May 30 2012

Over time-they always wear you down.

It is called, "undue command influence" and it refers to the ability of a massive organization, sanctioned with authorities by the US government to regulate peoples lives-such as the US Military-to apply pressure on its judicial system to obtain a pre-ordered result. For the "good of the service". There are supposed to be checks and balances in the military justice system that are supposed to prevent that, but trust me-they do not work well. The system will get its way eventually-and the individual will be thrown under the bus. ( Particularly if he is white and male). I know a bit or two about this-having been associated with the convening authority on at least a few court martials. Sometimes the evidence is clear cut-many times it is not. And that's why we need defense attorneys.

A man who knows a lot more than I do about the process, however, has finally had it with the "system"-and is throwing in the towel. The US military justice system and the nation is poorer as a result:

 

A well-known military defense attorney who has represented troops in some of the most high-profile military cases in recent memory is planning to leave his criminal defense practice, saying he “decided not to bang my head against the military justice wall any longer.”

Charles Gittins, 56, said he has accepted a job as an in-house attorney for Valley Proteins, a Virginia-based firm that specializes in the safe disposal and recycling of inedible animal byproducts for food industry.

“My days as a [military justice] guy in the trenches are over. Good luck to all of you heroes doing that work. You are doing the Lord’s work in an area of the law that is stacked against justice. You are my heroes,” Gittins wrote on his Facebook page Monday night.

Gittins, a former Marine officer, spent more than two decades defending clients in some of the most highly publicized military justice cases. His clients included a Navy officer embroiled in the 1991 Tailhook scandal, a soldier convicted in the Abu Graib prison scandal in 2004 and a Marine officer accused of mishandling an investigation of the infamous Haditha massacre in which Marines killed 24 unarmed Iraqis in 2005.

Gittins said his decision in part stemmed from his frustration with a recent case in which his client, a Marine captain, served more than a year in the brig for a rape conviction that was overturned in March due to lack of evidence. Capt. Nicholas Stewart was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman who said she was drunk and did not recall resisting the sexual encounter.

“The loss at trial of the Stewart case (which I never should have lost but for the sex assault BS going on in DoD), righted by [the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces], made me decide to get out of the business,” Gittins wrote on his Facebook page.


Just sour grapes by an attorney who should know better? I think not. It is real anguish at what has happened in today's military, where the chain of command has lost sight of the things it can regulate, and what it has not the authority to.

Consider:

It was undue command influence that allowed a hack like Harvey to trash the career of CAPT O.P. Honors-when any judgment on the correctness of his actions had long been completed and moved on from. In order to obtain a pre-ordained result the authority of the chain of command was usurped and a guy -who was by all accounts a good ship's captain- was thrown under the bus to appease the gods of political correctness.

Think too, about a now common practice-considered grossly illegal during my day-of taking someone to Captain's mast for a DUI accusation. The directives authorizing this take the individual to mast,  long before any civil proceedings are adjudicated, meaning that even if the guy gets acquitted of the charge ( and thus no DUI ever happened), the individual will have already been punished and had his career ruined. Not one high ranking person has spoken out about how this violates the Constitution's protections against double jeopardy.

The case that Gittins cites is a great example of undue command influence. Clearly a case of "buyers remorse", it highlights the ability of a woman who believes she has been wronged-to extract revenge by casually throwing out the "R" word. Even when no "R" has taken place. The military's rate of sexual assault is no higher than that of the comparable sized civilian sector-but thanks to the organized instutional paranoia inside DOD-done to appease feminists-lots of individuals have been routinely thrown under the bus.

And finally let's ask CDR Jackson about how impartial the Navy's IG system is-or any of the victims of the Tailhook inquisition about how fairly they were treated. Over incidents that were to put it mildly, nothing more than mild over exuberance. And probably could have been handled more discreetly with less pain and suffering for all. ( But hey, Paula Coughlin got 8 million dollars!)

Charles Gittins was the guy you turned to when the "machine" rose up and decided to crush you. There are other attorneys out there of course-but not all of them are of the same caliber as he is. And some, regrettably, care only about their fees ( like some lawyers everywhere-especially divorce lawyers). This is a loss for the individual officer and Sailor.

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3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Over time-they always wear you down.”

  1. Curtison 30 May 2012 at 4:20 pm

    100% agree

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  2. Anonymouson 08 Jun 2012 at 7:40 am

    I will have to disagree with you as to the "caliber" of Attorney Gittins's legal acumen.  Having worked with and against him, while he has had some sucess in a few hig viz cases and has been occasioanlly on the side of the angels (case in point CAPT Honors), he also tends to suceed through bullying inexperienced military judges, abusing his co-counsel, and is more concerned with seeing his own name in print than what is best for his clients in the long game.
    Remeber, this is the clown that advised Holly Graff to blame her wardroom and sexism for her failures.

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  3. [...] of increased responsibility and authority. It was a bullshit conclusion when I first wrote about it here, here, and here. Since the argument has been had before-and your time at Christmas is precious I [...]

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