Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Mr. Smith goes to jail. After a Kangaroo Court-martial..

After his kangaroo court-martial, Cadet Web Smith was taken to the U.S. Navy brig at the Submarine Base in Groton, Connecticut on 28 June 2006.

He should have been granted an 8 day deferment of the sentence. This is normally a routine thing. However, this was not a routine case, by any means. Even the vilest military convicted offender is given some time alone with his family to say good-bye. Webster Smith was not. Webster waited in a secure room under double security guards while his written Request for Deferment was presented to Admiral James Van Sice. The Admiral sat in his ivory tower with Commander Sean Gill, his military advisor, and drank coffee. Then he summarily denied the routine request without any justification whatsoever. This has never been done before. Admiral Van Sice received bad advice from his legal advisor.

As soon as Van Sice's signature was on the denial order, two flat-footed agents from the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) ordered Cadet Smith's parents to vacate the premises. Mild mannered Webster Smith was handcuffed and paraded up and down the corridor like Jesus being paraded between Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate for all the rabble to gawk and marvel. Poor Webster Smith was made a spectacle. Thoroughly humbled and suitably constrained, he was offered for inspection to Kristen Nicholson and Shelly Raudenbush, the two principal witnesses against him. Then, still in handcuffs, he was paraded in front of the news media for a photo opportunity. This was cruel and inhuman punishment. This was truly a new low even for the likes of James Van Sice. This single act more so than preferring groundless charges shows clearly the character of Admiral James Van Sice. He is not only a rabid racist, and a confirmed bigot, but he is also just plain mean spirited.

Originally he was supposed to be transferred on 10 July to a Federal prison for military officers in South Carolina. It did not happen, nor has the Admiral signed off on the Report of the Court-martial. The delay has not been explained. The new plans are to transfer him to the South Carolina prison on 19 July. That day might not be accurate either, unless the Admiral intends to deliberately violate Commandant Instruction M5350.4B, The Civil Rights Manual, which requires the Academy Civil Rights Officer to attempt to resolve informally a civil rights complaint within 5 days of receiving it. JoAnn Miller, the Academy Civil Rights Officer, plans to retire on 28 July. This will be her last hot potato. If she lets Web Smith get out of town before she can attempt an informal resolution, then she will have to spend the remainder of her tour of duty commuting between New London and South Carolina.
If Admiral James Van Sice does not develop some spine and some sense and put an end to this shameful episode in Coast Guard History, this case will prove to be his Stalingrad. This case will live on in infamy.
A kangaroo court is a proceeding that denies proper procedure in the name of expediency. It is a fraudulent or unjust trial where the decision has essentially been made in advance, usually for the purpose of providing a conviction. It is also an elaborately scripted event intended to appear fair while having the outcome predetermined from the start. It is a show trial with a reasonable outcome.

As in the case of Web Smith, it is conducted largely in the open. An accounting of private conduct is done in public. The proceedings appear to be fair, and the sentence is apparently legitimate. The convening authority goes out of its way to be open and fair, but it is nothing more than a show trial. It results in a judicial lynching; such as, Stalin's kangaroo trials of his "enemies", and the Romanian military court which sentenced Nicolae Ceausescu to death.

To expect this travesty of justice to have a positive affect upon the Coast Guard Academy is tantamount to asking for good fruit to come from a poisonous tree. It will not happen. It will not result in gender equality. It will not make female cadets take responsibility for their own actions. It will not result in more female staff officers at the Academy. Having a female Commandant of Cadets is nice but it is little more than window dressing. It will not turn female coeds at a secular college into female cadets or future Coast Guard officers. It will not cause the Coast Guard to change its policy on releasing the statistics they keep on the number of reported sexual assaults on base.

All of the other military academies have released their statistics on sexual assaults reported. The public has access to those statistics. The Coast Guard has not released the number of assaults reported, or how they were disposed of. There have been many, up to and during the time Webster Smith was in pre-trial confinement. All of the others have been quietly disposed of. From 1993 until the spring semester of 2005, the Coast Guard had confirmed only 10 reported incidents of sexual misconduct, according to information provided by the Coast Guard Academy to the Navy Times. Of those, six incidents resulted in dismissal of the accused and two ended in resignation. In the remaining two cases, there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges. The Coast Guard Academy has 982 students, nearly 30 percent of whom are women.

Only Webster Smith has been persecuted and then prosecuted to the fullest extent possible under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So far, we have only heard of the most exceptional cases that get reported in the media. The Coast Guard guards its sexual assault statics like the nuclear missile launch codes. It is arguable whether they would release the statistics pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA). Of course, they would be subject to a subpoena as part of discovery in a discrimination law suit. Or the NAACP Legal Defense, Inc Fund or the Department of Justice could just ask for them. Now that U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., has proposed a federal review of the Coast Guard Academy's sexual assault policies and the Government Accounting Office (GAO) is taking closer cognizance of the Coast Guard Academy, I am sure that they will keep a close eye on the statisics.

Many people have been wondering why the other officer service academies have not rushed to court-martial any of the male cadets accused of sexual assault charges. From 2000 to 2003, the Naval Academy reported investigating 13 incidents of sexual misconduct. Of those, at least four were substantiated and resulted in punitive actions against the midshipmen involved. Not one of them resulted in taking a cadet to a General, Special, or a Summary Court-martial. The Naval Academy has about 4,300 students.

There has been no rush to judgement at West Point, Annapolis or Colorado Springs. After observing the Coast Guard fiasco, I am truly glad that the other service academies have used cooler heads and have steadier hands on the helm. They do not conspire against their cadets. They realize that they have been given a sacred trust. They manage their fragile and developing future leaders with integrity. They do not sacrifice cadets on a silver platter to further the ambitious career goals of an overzealous and unprincipled senior officer.But the military services aim to uphold a higher standard, said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt in a press release following the release of the Defense Department task force's final report in August 2005. "The public trusts that the service academies will adhere to the highest standards and that we will serve as beacons that exemplify character, dignity and respect. We will increase our efforts to meet that trust" Rempt said.

Thank God there are still officers out there with a high sense of honor and loyalty to the traditions of their services. If the Coast Guard does not do everything within its power to right this wrong before Web Smith serves another day of confinement, it will be a long time before the Coast Guard will be able to hold up its head and march in step with the other proud and principled members of the nation's armed forces.

Since 1790 the Coast Guard has been the head and not the tail. It has been the lead agency in the Treasury Department, the Transportation Department, and now the Department of Homeland Security. It is still the lead agency, but the rescue and recovery actions in wake of Hurricane Katrina gave the Department a black eye. Most of the victums of the hurricane were Black. There were rumors that that was the main reason, among othrs, the rescue efforts were so slow. The Department's actions are under much closer scrutiny. The Black community has seen how Captain Doug Wisniewski mercilessly brutalized Cadet Web Smith, a fragile young lad under his care. If people like Doug Wisniewski and his ilk are promoted to Admiral, can the Black community expect to be treated even worse the next time they must rely on Homeland Security and the Coast Guard for help.

The U.S. Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals has scheduled oral arguments in the Case of The Appeal of the Court-martial Conviction of Cadet Webster Smith for January 16, 2008 in Arlington, Virginia.
A legal brief filed by his lawyers claims the convictions should be thrown out because the defense team was not allowed to fully cross-examine one of his accusers during Smith's court martial. They say that meant the jury didn't hear testimony that the accuser, a female cadet, Shelly Roddenbush, had once had consensual sex with a Coast Guard enlisted man and then called it sexual assault.
Lt. Cmdr. Patrick M. Flynn, the government's lawyer for the appeal, said 27 November that the jury "heard enough" and the trial judge was within his rights to impose reasonable limits on the cross-examination.
"They didn't need to hear the additional details the defense is arguing they should have been allowed to hear."
The defense also is asking the court to set aside Smith's convictions on two lesser charges of failing to obey an order and abandoning watch.



Blogger ichbinalj said...

Associated Press Writer

July 3, 2006, 4:34 PM EDT

NEW LONDON, Conn. -- The U.S. Coast Guard Academy said it would emphasize sexual assault awareness and revisit its policies following its first student court-martial, a trial that depicted a culture in which female cadets were hesitant to bring sexual assault claims.

Webster Smith, 23, of Houston, began serving six months in prison Wednesday after a military jury found him guilty of extorting a female classmate for sexual favors.

What began as a trial against an accused sexual predator ended looking more like a series of murky encounters between college students, with consent often clouded by alcohol. But the case also offered a rare and often unflattering glimpse at cadet life.

Two of Smith's four accusers testified that they didn't believe sexual assault was understood or taken seriously enough on campus. Another said she felt alone, unable to explain her situation.

And Capt. Douglas Wisniewski, the departing commandant of cadets, described fear and suspicion in the student body, saying some female cadets were hesitant to come forward with assault allegations _ a culture that Wisniewski spent months denying existed.

"Clearly this needs to be a moment of change at the Coast Guard Academy," said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who has proposed a federal review of the school's sexual assault policies.

Following accusations by a former cadet who said she was mistreated when she filed a complaint, the school said it would change its procedures and require female officers to accompany cadets through the process.

School spokesman David French said the academy's new command staff would review several policies following the testimony during the Smith case.

"It's unwelcome attention, but certainly anytime we have some kind of incident, we learn from it and take lessons from it," French said. "We ask ourselves whether or not those policies and procedures were effective, whether or not there are areas for improvement, and that's certainly something we'll be doing in this case."

Colleges across the country are grappling with those issues _ but the Coast Guard Academy, like the other service academies, is not just another college campus. Future officers are held to a higher standard on a campus where drinking and sex are prohibited and fraternization between classes can lead to cadet's dismissal.

The school says it's starting with a clean slate. Wisniewski, who graduated from the academy with the last all-male class, is being replaced by the first woman to hold the post, Capt. Judith Keene, who graduated in the second class to accept women.

That change was under way before the Smith case, but French said Keene, who will serve in the military equivalent of the dean of students, will bring a fresh perspective the academy. French said she'll be outlining her four-year vision for the school in the coming weeks.

The school plans lectures and conferences highlighting gender issues in the Coast Guard, and French said the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute will review the results of its student life surveys to see where progress can be made.

If DeLauro has her way, school policies also will be subject to a review by the Government Accountability Office, which investigated the policies of the three other service academies in 1994.

The timing is apropos.

When freshman arrive on campus Monday for "swab summer," the school will mark the 30th anniversary of women joining the academy. Many of the 14 female graduates of that class will help deliver the oath to the class of 2010.

The academy, founded in 1876, is the smallest U.S. service academy with an enrollment of about 950 cadets. Women represent about 30 percent of Coast Guard Academy cadets, compared with less than 20 percent at the Air Force and Naval Academies and about 15 percent at West Point.

3:39 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...


New London,CT. The U.S. Coast Guard Academy has confirmed it is investigating a male cadet for an undisclosed number of sexual misconduct allegations filed against him in December.

The academy also disclosed this week that two other allegations of sexual misconduct were filed in the fall semester. One case resulted in the dismissal of a male cadet Dec. 15.

Chief Warrant Officer David French, an academy spokesman, declined to comment this week on the frequency or severity of the allegations in the latest case, or whether there are multiple complainants.

He said the Cadet Code of Regulations defines sexual misconduct as prohibited sexual behavior ranging from hand-holding to rape.

The academy investigations come at a time when other branches of the military are involved in a two-year effort to document and reduce the number of sexual assaults and incidents of harassment at their service academies.

The Coast Guard Academy largely limited its responses to The Day's questions to brief written statements delivered by e-mail. French declined a request by an editor and a reporter for an interview with Commandant of Cadets Capt. Douglas Wisniewski.

On Dec. 4, an officer on duty received an allegations of sexual misconduct from a cadet, setting off an inquiry by the Coast Guard Investigative Services, based in Washington, D.C., French said.

French declined to provide further details, citing the ongoing investigation.

Once its investigation is completed, and the results are reported to the academy, the command will make a determination whether further administrative or disciplinary action is warranted, French wrote of the latest case.

One of the other two complaints, stemming from the first semester of 2005-06, resulted in a confession and the Dec. 15 dismissal of a first-year male student, who departed immediately, according to French. He stated that a female cadet reported nonconsensual sexual advances from a freshman male in the Chase Hall barracks, the dormitory where all students reside.

No criminal charges have been filed, French said.

Capt. William D. Dittman of the New London Police Department said the department had not been contacted regarding the alleged incidents at the academy. Federal law enforcement agencies have primary jurisdiction at the campus. City police have authority over specific areas there, he explained, but not the barracks.

Cmdr. Kathleen Donohoe of the Coast Guard's national public affairs office in Washington, D.C. declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation. A phone call to the regional office of the internal investigative services unit in Boston was not returned.

In 2003, women's reports of a number of incidents involving sexual misconduct at the Air Force Academy spurred Congress, through the 2004 Defense Authorization legislation, to order an examination of the prevalence of sexual harassment and violence in service academies.

The same legislation created a task force to survey the frequency of sexual assaults at the U.S. military and naval academies. The task force visited the Coast Guard Academy some time between September 2004 and June 2005, according to an Aug. 25 defense department briefing.

In December, the Defense Department released the Service Academy 2005 Sexual Harassment And Assault Survey. The Air Force Academy showed marked improvement, with about 4 percent of women acknowledging incidents of sexual assault during the 2004-05 school year, a number slightly lower than those reported at the naval and military academies.

No statistics on the Coast Guard Academy were included in the defense department's survey. The Coast Guard operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

3:57 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Coast Guard Academy is investigating a male cadet on allegations of sexual misconduct.
The inquiry, first reported Jan. 21 by The Day newspaper of New London, Conn., involves at least one charge of misconduct by the student. A complaint was filed against him Dec. 4 with the school’s chain of command, prompting the Coast Guard Investigative Service to look into the allegations.

The case is the school’s third sexual misconduct investigation this academic year. In the first, a male cadet fourth class admitted to making unsolicited sexual advances toward a female cadet at Chase Hall, the academy’s student barracks. He was dismissed from the school Dec. 15.

An investigation into the second incident is pending, academy spokesman Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dave French said Jan. 24.

French declined to give details of the latest case, citing the ongoing inquiry. At the Coast Guard Academy, if a report involving sexual assault or misconduct is made to the chain of command, CGIS must examine it.

“The commandant of cadets, Capt. Douglas Wisniewski, took immediate action to initiate the investigation into these allegations,” French said.

“Sexual misconduct” at the academy is defined as “acts that disgrace or bring discredit on the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Academy and are sexual in nature,” including lewd or lascivious acts, indecent exposure or homosexual conduct.

But the definition also includes consensual acts that are prohibited on academy grounds, such as holding hands, kissing in public or sex.

The Coast Guard cases come a year after Congress required the Defense Department to examine the problem of sexual harassment and violence at its service academies. A Defense Department survey released in March 2005 revealed that nearly one in seven women at the service academies — the Naval Academy, the U.S Military Academy at West Point and the Air Force Academy — said they were sexually assaulted during their college careers. More than half said they were subjected to sexual harassment.

The Coast Guard is not a Defense Department armed service, and its academy was not part of the survey, but the Defense Department task force assigned to study the problem visited the academy Jan. 11, 2005, to “gain an understanding of our programs and policies and how our system of reporting differs from the other service academies,” French said.

From 1993 until the spring semester of 2005, the Coast Guard had 10 reported incidents of sexual misconduct, according to information provided by the academy. Of those, six incidents resulted in dismissal of the accused and two ended in resignation. In the remaining two cases, there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges.

The Coast Guard Academy has 982 students, nearly 30 percent of whom are women.

From 2000 to 2003, the Naval Academy reported investigating 13 incidents of sexual misconduct. Of those, at least four were substantiated and resulted in punitive actions against the midshipmen involved. The Naval Academy has about 4,300 students.

The Air Force Academy, whose widespread problems came to light in 2003, triggering the dismissal of much of that school’s leadership and prompting Congressional inquiries, had 54 incidents between 1993 and 2003.

The rates of assaults and harassment found by the Defense Department survey mirror similar results of surveys done at civilian colleges and universities.

But the military services aim to uphold a higher standard, said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt in a press release following the release of the Defense Department task force’s final report in August 2005.

“The public trusts that the service academies will adhere to the highest standards and that we will serve as beacons that exemplify character, dignity and respect. We will increase our efforts to meet that trust,” Rempt said.

4:21 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

CGA's 'Grand Lady' To Retire
Miller to receive national award for her efforts to improve race

By Charles E. Potter Jr.
Published on 7/17/2006 in Education » Education Local

New London — JoAnn Miller is the eighth child of a mother who had an
eighth-grade education.
That had a lot to do with her hardly ever missing a day of school while
growing up in Philadelphia and hardly ever missing a day of work in
than 25 years at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

On July 28, Miller will retire at the age of 59, with more than 40
years of
service to the government. And then she can start on the things she has

“First, I think I'll sleep for two weeks,” she said. “And I think I'd
to take piano lessons again.”

Miller, the only full-time manager of civil rights and equal
that the academy has ever had, could write a how-to book on her area of

In fact, she must.

One of her tasks before retiring is to turn her list of
practices and procedures into an operations manual for her successor.

“Yeah, I need to get on that,” Miller said during a recent interview.

But before she does, Miller will collect a special award Tuesday at the
annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of
People in Washington, D.C. She will receive the Roy Wilkins Renowned
Award, given annually to a military member or Department of Defense
employee “who has made a distinguished and a significant contribution
to the
country in civil or human rights, race relations, equal opportunity,
affirmative action, human resources and/or public service.”

“This is a big one. This one means a lot to me,” Miller said,
recounting a
conversation she had with the academy superintendent, Rear Adm. James
C. Van
Sice. “I told Admiral Van Sice when he told me about the nomination,
he did in front of everybody at Eclipse Weekend, that ... to actually
selected is above anything. I thank God.

“It's nice to know that people think what you do is worthy,” she said.
like to be acknowledged, but I certainly didn't expect this kind of

Van Sice applauded Miller's service to the Coast Guard and the nation
in an
e-mail last week.

“The academy is going to miss JoAnn,” he said. “Throughout her tenure
at the
academy, JoAnn has made a significant impact on the lives of thousands
Coast Guard cadets, officers, and enlisted personnel. She has served as
counselor, colleague, and friend to the civilian employees who make up
a third of the work force at the academy.

“JoAnn's legacy lies within the civil rights programs and her strong
to be a vital change agent for equality,” Van Sice said. “It will be
difficult to replace JoAnn, and we will always remember and appreciate
dedication and service to our nation that she has given these past

Miller is divorced and has no children. Her “family” is her colleagues,
academy's cadets and her social peers.

Her federal service began when she graduated from high school. Before
came to the academy in January 1981, she worked for the Air Force and
as a
personnel manager at Pratt & Whitney.

“I'm going to miss these hallowed halls,” she said as she walked down
corridor to her offices in Hamilton Hall. “But I guess all good things
to come to an end.”


Miller serves as the first level of resolution when a civilian
cadet, enlisted person or officer has reason to think he or she has
been the
victim of discrimination.

Her goal, she said, has been to ensure that people feel they are being
treated fairly. She takes discrimination complaints, mediates them and
resolves them when she can.

Most of the time, she added, the complaints do not go past her office.

“This is actually an informal level,” she said. “We try to get to the
of the problem and resolve it here, before it becomes a formal
Usually we do.

“This has been a good place (for people) to work,” Miller said.
people are happy, comfortable here. I think most people enjoy it. Our
supervisors try to handle issues at the lowest levels, and we have a
lot of
resources to help people deal with their problems –– whether they are
job-related, or personal.”

Eunice Waller, a longtime friend and a fellow member of the local
chapter of
the National Council for Negro Women, said, “I hate to see her leave
Coast Guard. They need her there.”

Miller's take on her own role at the academy supported Waller's

“Everybody's issue is important to them. And I treat it that way,” she
“If it's that important to them, then I give it my all. I know what it
for someone to get the courage to bring their issue through my door.”

A medal on the wall of her office was presented to her in 1989 by the
secretary of the Department of Defense. It was for meritorious service
in a
non-combat situation or setting. She's not allowed to wear it because
isn't in the military, which makes earning it all the more special, she

“I was proud of that because I earned it early on in my career,” she
“That's why I have it displayed in a frame. It's there at all times.”

Miller's accolades come from her friends as well as from her
colleagues. They say she provides the same professional and
service to her community and to other personal endeavors as she has to

“She's involved in everything, and when I say involved, I mean
Waller said. “She doesn't sign up and attend. She takes an office,
heads a
committee and gets things done. In 1989, she was secretary of the NCNW,
she went on to be first vice president, then second, then president.
She was
president for almost a decade.”

Miller is a member of the Shiloh Baptist Church, its Mass Choir and the
Voices of Praise. She's a member of the Shiloh Development Corporation
of Directors, the Kente Cultural Center board and the local chapter of

“Shiloh has been my spiritual sanctuary,” she said. “I have learned
Pastor (Benjamin) Watts to let go of the pressures of this job. Being
involved in Shiloh and its ministries has been a great outlet for me.
Whenever I am down, I know exactly where to go.”

Waller called Miller an angel in disguise.

“It doesn't matter if one person is in their 20s and the other their
she said. “It doesn't matter if they have different incomes or
intellect. She can put the Ph.D.s together with the GEDs, and she'll
them all feel comfortable with each other. She just has a knack for
people happy.”

Miller said that Waller and Shirley Gillis, who has also been a member
the local chapters of the NAACP and the NCNW, are among a few people
considers mentors, “whether they know it or not.”

She credited her late mother for giving her a sense of pride about the
she performed her everyday tasks.

“My mother, Evelyn Mitchell, had the old-school, no-nonsense wisdom
encouraged, chastised and corrected me and my siblings with tough
love,” she
said. “I think her insistence on perfect attendance at school and her
that her children be educated well beyond her own eighth-grade
resulted in my approach to work.

“Without that foundation, I probably would not have lasted this long in
government service, nor (accumulated) more than a year's worth of
sick leave.”


Miller said interacting with the academy's cadets is what she will miss
most. Her relationship with them is a source of pride and happiness.

On Easters, she used to have an open house for cadets at her Groton

“Many of us fast before the Easter Sunday,” she said. “So, to break the
fast, I cook up a big spread, have an open house.”

She was an adviser to Genesis, the academy's multi-cultural club, which
started years ago by the academy's first black cadets. Many of those
cadets-turned-officers return to the academy each spring for Eclipse
Weekend, during which black academy graduates interact with Connecticut
College students and establish mentor relationships with young black
They also take part in panel discussion to talk about the obstacle
might expect to encounter in their careers, in and out of the Coast
and how to deal with them.

“I'm so proud Genesis celebrated its 31st year this year,” she said. “I
think it's the longest-running cadet-driven organization here. And they
a special bond with Connecticut College. It's a monumental success.

“It's a success because it draws officers from all over the country to
return. It's an opportunity for cadets and officers to interact, to
establish mentoring relationships and to talk about leadership ideas.”

Genesis weekends at the academy include panel discussions on challenges
black officers and college students might encounter in their duty
assignments and throughout their lives.

Waller, reflecting on the award her friend will receive Tuesday, said,
is deserving of it. She has been a stabilizing force at the academy.
they send her everywhere. When they need representation, they send
That tells you she is a valuable person in her position. I think they
have very difficult time trying to find a replacement. I hope she
leave the area.”

“She really is a grand lady,” Gillis said. “She's a warm, caring
person. I'm
proud to be counted in her circle of friends.”

6:42 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Coast Guard drops court martial of former Chincoteague director

© July 25, 2006 | Last updated 11:17 PM Jul. 24

The Coast Guard has dropped plans to court-martial Chief Petty Officer Jerry Tarr, the former head of its Chincoteague station, deciding instead to discipline him administratively.

Tarr, accused of disobeying orders when told not to help move a boat from private property, appeared at a hearing called a "captain's mast" at the Chincoteague station on Monday. He was ordered to forfeit the equivalent of a month's pay - about $3,700 - and given 45 days restriction, which was suspended.

The hearing was held by Capt. Patrick B. Trapp, commander of Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads, who granted Tarr's request for a hearing.

Public criticism of the Coast Guard's initial decision to take Tarr to trial - fueled by 3,000 paper fliers, 700 signatures on petitions, and large posters scattered about the town - did not influence the Coast Guard's decision, said Lt. Gene Maestas, a Coast Guard spokesman in Portsmouth.

"For every court-martial case, there are always ongoing negotiations between the defense and the convening authority," Maestas said. "The best I can understand is they felt this was the proper method, or proper legal way, to handle this particular case."

Tarr, 41, is a scion of Coast Guard service who has spent 20 years of his 23-year career working on the Eastern Shore. Tarr's great-grandfather, grandfather, father and all three brothers made the Coast Guard their career. One brother, Johnny Tarr, was killed in 1992 when a boom snapped on a buoy tender and hit him.

Jerry Tarr commanded the station for two and a half years, until he was relieved this spring. He was charged with two counts of disobeying a lawful order on March 24 and again on March 25, the day he allegedly used a Coast Guard boat to move an abandoned vessel off private property.

A third charge was added earlier this month, alleging that he took depth soundings in the Chincoteague harbor in preparation for the boat's movement.

When the charges were made public, they triggered a large letter-writing campaign by Chincoteague residents and municipal leaders who contended that his actions were heroic. They wrote that Tarr prevented the derelict boat from crashing into the town's drawbridge, its only highway link to the mainland.

One of the signs that sprang up in the fishing resort supporting Tarr is a 4 -by-8 -foot poster, visible from the town drawbridge, that says: "Chincoteague Supports Chief Tarr. He protected our bridge. Thanks Chief Tarr."

Former town Councilman Jim Frese spearheaded the flier campaign.

"So far I've put out 3,000," he said last week by telephone. "As a matter of fact, I have never had anything people asked for so much.

"What happens is people ask the question, 'What's this all about,' and it fills them in, " he said.

Tarr has declined to comment on the allegations and is represented by a military attorney. He was relieved of his command April 11 and reassigned to a Coast Guard post in Portsmouth, where he remains.

Raymond Britton Jr., a Chincoteague fisherman and restaurant owner, said in an interview that he was using his pontoon boat to move an 80-foot, 100-ton vessel, Elbie B, but the current and wind suddenly caused him to lose control as it began drifting toward the drawbridge.

Britton said it was then that he asked Tarr for help. Tarr responded by bringing the Coast Guard's 47-foot patrol boat to the scene to move the Elbie B to a secure location, Britton said. The vessel eventually sank.

After Tarr was charged, the Coast Guard announced it would bring in a Coast Guard lawyer from the West Coast to serve as a judge to ensure impartiality because of Tarr's reputation locally.

According to the charges, Tarr was told twice by his superior officer, Lt. Cmdr. Dana Reid, not to become involved with, or move, the Elbie B unless a distress situation occurred.

Reid has been in command of the Sector Field Office Eastern Shore in Chincoteague about eight months.

Coast Guard officials have said they did not want to become involved in what was considered a civil dispute between the property owners and the boat owner.

Reach Jack Dorsey at (757) 446-2284 or

11:26 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Petty Officer Held in Secret for 4 Months
Virginian-Pilot | August 04, 2006
NORFOLK - A petty officer has been in the Norfolk Naval Station brig for more than four months facing espionage, desertion and other charges, but the Navy has refused to release details of the case.

The case against Fire Control Technician 3rd Class Ariel J. Weinmann is indicative of the secrecy surrounding the Navy military court here, where public affairs and trial court officials have denied access to basic information including the court docket -- a listing of cases to be heard.

After months of requests, the Navy this week provided The Virginian-Pilot with Weinmann's name, rank and the charges he faces.

In an e-mail, Theodore Brown, a spokesman for Fleet Forces Command, said, "It is sometimes a challenge to balance the desires of the media, the public's right to know, and the rights of an individual accused of a crime."

"In this case," he concluded, the command "is attempting to provide as much unclassified information as is reasonable, while maintaining an appropriate concern for the privacy of the individual involved. "

A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment Thursday.

The Navy's position was challenged by military legal affairs experts and First Amendment advocates who say the nation's courts, whether civilian or military, historically have been open to the press and public.

A docket listing Weinmann's preliminary hearing, called an Article 32, was never produced. The Navy would not disclose when the hearing was held.

"That's hogwash," said Eugene R. Fidell, president of The National Institute of Military Justice and a Washington lawyer .

"I know of no authority to keep the proceeding closed," he said. "I've never seen an Article 32 classified."

The command's e-mail to The Pilot this week said that Weinmann was arrested at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on March 26 after he had been listed as a deserter. Fleet Forces officials refused to release the so-called charge sheet, which would detail the accusations against the Sailor.

Weinmann had been serving aboard the submarine Albuquerque until he deserted in July 2005, according to Brown. Weinmann enlisted in July 2003, he said.

The enlisted man could face a court-martial. An investigative officer who presided over the Article 32 is expected to release a report to Weinmann's command in the coming weeks. Besides espionage and desertion, Weinmann is charged with failure to obey an order and acts prejudicial to good order and discipline, according to Brown.

Espionage is defined, in part, by the Uniform Code of Military Justice as the communication to a foreign government of any information relating to U.S. national defense. It carries a maximum punishment of death.

Military defense lawyers say secret military hearings and the refusal to release basic charge information have become more common since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Court precedents and federal laws have established the right of public access to court-martial proceedings, including Article 32 hearings, the lawyers and First Amendment advocates say.

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals said in a 1997 case involving an attempt to close a criminal proceeding, "We believe that public confidence in matters of military justice would quickly erode if courts-martial were arbitrarily closed to the public."

The court said the public and the media have a right to attend military court proceedings, "absent extraordinary circumstances."

The Supreme Court has ruled that the closure of a court proceeding or the sealing of any criminal case must be decided by a judge on a case-by-case basis.

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington, said that, even in military courts, an order must be issued closing or sealing a case.

Brown acknowledged Thursday that "there is no order," but said that the charge sheet in the Weinmann case would not be released.

Dalglish and others said protecting someone's privacy has never been a legally acceptable reason to exclude the public from a court proceeding or to withhold the identity of someone who's been in custody for four months.

"We don't lock up people in this country secretly," Dalglish said. "Personal embarrassment has never been found to be a justification for closing a proceeding."

Other than the Weinmann case, Norfolk Naval Station has refused to provide The Pilot with copies of the military court docket since at least November. The docket lists cases heard in military court each day. In March, The Pilot filed a Freedom of Information request for the past year's dockets but has received no written response.

Beth Baker, a spokeswoman for the Navy Mid-Atlantic Region, has said that computer problems have made it difficult for the Trial Services Office at Norfolk Naval Station to generate a docket.

In two e-mails sent to The Pilot in January and February, Baker said the dockets should be available "soon."

"The docket for the Trial Service Office has been transferred to a new system that is not user friendly to us at all," Baker told The Pilot in a March e-mail.

More recent requests for the docket went unanswered.

Some military courts, including Marine Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, Calif., post their court dockets on a Web site.

The National Institute of Military Justice has begun a project to collect military court dockets and post them on its own Web site. Fidell, of the institute, said law students hope to begin pos ting them by the end of the summer.

"Why this continues to be an issue in 2006 is beyond me," Fidell said.

7:29 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

It Takes a Real Man To Admit Mistakes.,26174,1209244,00.html

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog on the Smith case seems to be taking on the theme of: Smith was black man, ergo he shouldn't have expected to be treated fairly, and he wasn't. Then there is the view that if only his lawyers had been more aggressive they cold have turned up damaging evidence concerning Mr. Smith's accuser, thus destroying her "credibility" and, in the process -- as though the choice is a simple toggle -- have increased Mr. Smith's credibility, all of which would have resulted in an acquittal which Mr. Smith deserved. I'm confused. Is it that Mr. Smith was "singled out" because of his race, as many other non-minority cadets do the same things? Or, is it that he couldn't afford -- or the Coast Guard wouldn't provide -- competent defense counsel? If the latter, that's an appealable issue. I also understand that the military judge would not allow the basis of Mr. Smith's aleged blackmail of the female cadet (i.e., her "secret") to be heard by the military jury. That is an appealable issue, and a winner, as WHAT that secret WAS affects the credibility of the accuser's assertion that she was coerced and not voluntarily participating. Things that are material to a witness's credibility are never collateral and are always admissible. Rather than simply yelling "racism", Mr. Smith would do well do get a competent lawyer NOW and get his conviction reversed. Just so I can get clear on whether this blog is political or not, could someone please comment on the Tawana Brawley case and the Duke University lacross team case?

1:37 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Dear Braceup,
Cadet Smith has had a competent appelate attorney since July 2006. He is represented by the same firm that represented Congressmen Adam Clayton Powell, and President Richard Nixon.
WilmerHale offers unparalleled legal representation across a comprehensive range of practice areas. They have more than 1,000 lawyers, with offices in 13 cities in the United States, Europe and Asia. Their practice includes over 350 litigators with unmatched trial, appellate and Supreme Court experience. With a heritage that includes involvement in the foundation of legal aid work early in the 20th century, they have consistently distinguished ourselves as leaders in pro bono representation.
Their lawyers have been involved in many of the influential legal cases and social developments that have shaped the nation. In 1954, Joseph Welch, assisted by James St. Clair and Jack Kimball, represented the US Army on a pro bono basis in the nationally televised Army-McCarthy hearings. In 1963, Lloyd Cutler and others served as a leading force in creating the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, at the behest of President John F. Kennedy.
In January 1974, Jim St. Clair left Hale and Dorr to become Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon during the Watergate controversy.
Recently, they achieved what the Washington Post described as a “stunning reversal” of a miscarriage of justice in a nationally-reported case—undertaken with co-counsel from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and other firms—in Tulia, Texas, in which multiple defendants, nearly all African-American, were wrongfully convicted and sentenced on drug charges based on the completely uncorroborated testimony of a white undercover agent who was later indicted for perjury. [One of The New York Times "100 Notable Books of 2005", Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town by Nate Blakeslee tells the sad yet ultimately triumphant story.]
I am sure that your legal analysis is correct, but I do not represent Cadet Smith. I only represent that he has suffered a great injustice. The best legal minds in the country are working on his case.
The other cases that you mentioned do not involve my alma mater. There is no CGA nexus.
Thank you for your comments,

8:13 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

International Herald Tribune - France
(The Associated Press) WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2007
Lawyers for a former cadet who was the first student court-martialed in the 130-year history of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's are seeking to reverse his convictions for sexual misconduct.
Oral Arguments before the Coast Guard Court of Military Appeals is set for 16 January 2008 in Arlington, Va.

11:02 AM  

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