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(A series of pertinent — and impertinent — observations about military justice)


The Sunday Washington Post of 15 May lists a new legal innovation in Washington State.  Essentially, paralegals there are being trained to perform functions that normally fall to an attorney.  The  paralegals receive intensive training in specific areas of the law.   Programs are said to be cost-efficient, with paralegals apprenticed under an attorney for 3,000 hours before practicing on their own. 

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A Marine letter home?  A great letter on the Internet purports to come from a young Marine,  writing back home to the family on the farm.   The Marine says that things aren’t that tough in the Corps.   Sure, there is an early morning wake up – but it’s  no tougher than getting up early on the farm to slop hogs.  And a long hike is no problem – back home, walking  back from the country store, weighed down by produce, is business as usual.  And yes, young Marines get into scrapes – but the letter writer (weight, 130 pounds) is able to beat  everybody except a 270 pounder .  All in all, Marine life is not so tough. 

Then follows the surprise.  The letter is signed:

 “your proud Marine daughter, Alice.”

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Ex-cons?  The 21 March Washington Post METRO section tells the story of ST , who’s been in prison for 18 years.  She’s had a tough time holding a job.   Formerly, she earned  $150, 000 a year; now, she’s on food stamps.   ST was abused, beginning at the age of 12.   Molestation continued for five years, she insists.  One day, she confronted her abuser and demanded to know why he had done it.   He sneeringly responded that she must have liked sex or he would have stopped.   Enraged, ST killed him, turning herself in the next day.

The court sentenced her to 40 years. with 20 years suspended.   She was a model prisoner and obtained a college degree behind bars.   Later, she earned a master’s degree in bio technology.   Her record has been clean ever since.   Sadly, she has been unable to keep steady employment when employers dig deep into her background.  The article asks:  How much ‘punishment’ is enough?  And is there a time when the “civil death” aspects of punishment should cease – right to vote, sit on a jury, carry a firearm, hold important position, and so forth. 

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Humanizing clients in courts-martial.  Defense counsel might find good fodder for mitigation in off-beat questions.  How about:

 ·        Favorite singer

·        Inspiration

·        Something no one knows about the accused

·        Hobbies

·        Place most fun to be stranded

·        Best/worst type of NCO they’ve encountered

·        Proudest moment in uniform

·        Ideal place to retire someday

·        Favorite sports team…and why

·        Last words

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Videotaping on a cell phone?   This has been in the news lately, with recent events in  South Carolina and elsewhere.  Defense counsel should most strongly caution clients: avoid taping like the plague.   Among our favorites:  A civilian case where the  filmed conduct of a “victim” revealed a party animal,  heavily-drinking and joking after her supposed “rape.” 


We have written with genuine anger over situations of one law for the rich and another for the poor.   Here’s another such situation:  A Spanish-speaking Army NCO is attached for special duty at an embassy in Latin America.  His mission — help stem the flow of cocaine into the US.   This NCO, after several years, “goes rogue.”  He engages in sex parties with prostitutes hired by the drug cartel he was supposed to surveil.  

What would be his sentence by general court-martial?.

True story?  Almost…

Real facts. Everything is the same —  except the individual involved  is a DEA agent.  His sentence?  According to press reports, suspension of 2 to 10 days.   

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