Monday, August 14, 2006


It is possible the Webster Smith case could make it all the way to the Supreme Court. This dispute is a case of first impression.

The Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces will have to review the Webster Smith case. It has no choice. The United States Court of Military Review, under Article 66 of the UCMJ, shall review all cases of trial by court-martial in which the sentence as approved by the Convening Authority extends to dismissal of a cadet from the Coast Guard, and/or a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge, unless the accused waives appellate review.

Decision of the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals may be appealed to the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces.

The Coast Guard Court of of Criminal Appeals is made up of Coast Guard Officers. It has the power to decide matter of both fact and law. The Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces is made up of five civilian judges, appointed to 15 year terms. It decides only issues of law. All of its decisions are reported in the Military Justice Reporter and create precedent. Its decisions may be appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. It is the highest court in the land.

Chief Justice John Roberts does not want this kind of case coming to the Supreme Court. ´Too many people think whenever there's any kind of dispute in our society, well let's take it to the Supreme Court and they'll decide," Chief Justice Roberts said. "In a democratic republic that shouldn't be someone's first reaction. ..”

This and other little-known facts of Chief Justice Roberts appear in a new kid-friendly biography, "John G. Roberts, Jr.: Chief Justice," by Lisa Tucker McElroy. It has just gone on sale at the Supreme Court gift shop. Pitched at about a sixth-grade reading level, the 48-page hardcover book filled with family photos is part of a Lerner Publishing Group series that also includes the life stories of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (D), and Mother Teresa.
The emphasis throughout, though, is on the humanizing anecdote.

Webster Smith has apologized for his behavior. Confession is good for the soul. It is the first step toward true rehabilitation.,26174,1209244,00.html

No one else involved in the entire episode has shown such strength of character. The Academy is a character building institution. Is it fulfilling its mission.

The system of recognizing and assigning responsibility to cadets must be carefully examined, for the “best and the brightest” appear to be among those demonstrating risky behavior. Cadets exhibiting and recognized for the highest academic and military proficiency were part of this tale of drunkenness and debauchery.

Lcdr Patrick Knowles said that seemingly intelligent, motivated and ambitious women (upwards of seven) all 'hooked-up' with a single man, and all within an eight month time period. Given the small, close-knit nature of the Academy, these liaisons must have been widely known.

It is not enough to declare revulsion with sexual assault. The systemic problem is not one of incomplete, inefficient, or unclear reporting procedures or processes. Those are management issues that Captain Judy Keene will have to address. The problem is about a system that appears unsuccessful in aligning cadet values to the point that they demonstrate conduct becoming a gentleman – or a lady. These are leadership issues.

Patrick H. Knowles Jr. is a 1983 CGA graduate. He completed a 20-year career, retiring as a lieutenant commander. He spent the last nine years of his career as an Academy engineering professor, and assisting in the summer leadership training of Academy cadets. Among his duties he was an overnight watch-stander in the Cadet Barracks.

Judge London Steverson
London Eugene Livingston Steverson
 (born March 13, 1947) was one of the first two African Americans to graduate from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1968. Later, as chief of the newly formed Minority Recruiting Section of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), he was charged with desegregating the Coast Guard Academy by recruiting minority candidates. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1988 and in 1990 was appointed to the bench as a Federal Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Social Security Administration.

Early Life and Education
Steverson was born and raised in Millington, Tennessee, the oldest of three children of Jerome and Ruby Steverson. At the age of 5 he was enrolled in the E. A. Harrold elementary school in a segregated school system. He later attended the all black Woodstock High School in Memphis, Tennessee, graduating valedictorian.
A Presidential Executive Order issued by President Truman had desegregated the armed forces in 1948,[1] but the service academies were lagging in officer recruiting. President Kennedy specifically challenged the United States Coast Guard Academy to tender appointments to Black high school students. London Steverson was one of the Black student to be offered such an appointment, and when he accepted the opportunity to be part of the class of 1968, he became the second African American to enter the previously all-white military academy. On June 4, 1968 Steverson graduated from the Coast Guard Academy with a BS degree in Engineering and a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard.
In 1974, while still a member of the Coast Guard, Steverson entered The National Law Center of The George Washington University and graduated in 1977 with a Juris Doctor of Laws Degree.

USCG Assignments.
Steverson's first duty assignment out of the Academy was in Antarctic research logistical support. In July 1968 he reported aboard the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Glacier [2] (WAGB-4), an icebreaker operating under the control of the U.S. Navy, and served as a deck watch officer and head of the Marine Science Department. He traveled to Antarctica during two patrols from July 1968 to August 1969, supporting the research operations of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Research Project in and around McMurdo Station. During the 1969 patrol the CGC Glacier responded to an international distress call from the Argentine icebreaker General SanMartin, which they freed.
He received another military assignment from 1970 to 1972 in Juneau, Alaska as a Search and Rescue Officer. Before being certified as an Operations Duty Officer, it was necessary to become thoroughly familiar with the geography and topography of the Alaskan remote sites. Along with his office mate, Ltjg Herbert Claiborne "Bertie" Pell, the son of Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell, Steverson was sent on a familiarization tour of Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force bases. The bases visited were Base Kodiak, Base Adak Island, and Attu Island, in the Aleutian Islands.[3]
Steverson was the Duty Officer on September 4, 1971 when an emergency call was received that an Alaska Airlines Boeing 727 airline passenger plane was overdue at Juneau airport. This was a Saturday and the weather was foggy with drizzling rain. Visibility was less than one-quarter mile. The 727 was en route to Seattle, Washington from Anchorage, Alaska with a scheduled stop in Juneau. There were 109 people on board and there were no survivors. Steverson received the initial alert message and began the coordination of the search and rescue effort. In a matter of hours the wreckage from the plane, with no survivors, was located on the side of a mountain about five miles from the airport. For several weeks the body parts were collected and reassembled in a staging area in the National Guard Armory only a few blocks from the Search and Rescue Center where Steverson first received the distress broadcast.[4]. Later a full investigation with the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the cause of the accident was equipment failure.[5]
Another noteworthy item is Steverson's involvement as an Operations Officer during the seizure of two Russian fishing vessels, the Kolevan and the Lamut for violating an international agreement prohibiting foreign vessels from fishing in United States territorial waters. The initial attempts at seizing the Russian vessels almost precipitated an international incident when the Russian vessels refused to proceed to a U. S. port, and instead sailed toward the Kamchatka Peninsula. Russian MIG fighter planes were scrambled, as well as American fighter planes from Elmendorf Air Force Base before the Russian vessels changed course and steamed back

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Blogger ichbinalj said...

Yours is a heavy cross to bear. Ask Job and he will tell you that unearned suffering is redemptive. You are a chosen vessel. Now you must lay aside every weight that restrains you and run with patience the race that is before you. Remember, that they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. If you rely upon your faith, prayer and The Word you will come through these trials. Even though you may be tried in the fires of adversity, you will come forth as pure gold. False girl friends will not disillusion you. Biased witnesses cannot defeat you. Long jail sentences cannot weary you. Corrupt juries will not defeat you. Trumped-up charges cannot stop you. Threats cannot silence you; and your enemies cannot handle you. All of these things work together for good to those who place themselves in the Master's care and allow themselves to be used as instruments in his war against evil. You may be down, but you are not out. You will come forth more than a conqueror. We shall overcome.
Elder EuGene Livingston

9:04 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

When Chief Justice John Roberts took his center seat for the first time in October 2005, John Paul Stevens, the court's senior justice, wished him "a long and happy career in our common calling."
The week of 23 April 2007 Roberts had some words for Stevens, who turned 87 last week. And they were not nearly so kind.
In a pointed dissent from decisions overturning death sentences for two Texas inmates, Roberts accused Stevens of engaging in revisionist history.

Stevens, leading a five-justice majority, said Texas state courts should have set aside the death sentences because the Supreme Court had made clear that such sentences could not stand if they were imposed as a result of flawed jury instructions that Texas used until 1991.

7:14 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Chief Justice Roberts, a dissenter in six of the court's 10 most recent rulings, wrote that contrary to being clear, Supreme Court death penalty law over the years has been a "dog's breakfast," a mess of "divided, conflicted and ever-changing analyses." State courts would find it difficult, if not impossible, to discern federal law from those rulings, he said.

Roberts concluded his 16-page dissent on a sarcastic note, at odds with his amiable image. "Still, perhaps there is no reason to be unduly glum," Roberts said, taking direct aim at Stevens. "After all, today the author of a dissent issued in 1988 writes two majority opinions concluding that the views established in that dissent actually represented 'clearly established' federal law at that time. So there is hope yet for the views expressed in this dissent."

"Encouraged by the majority's determination that the future can change the past, I respectfully dissent," he concluded.

7:15 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The number of death sentences imposed by juries and the number of actual executions are falling, but the court's interest in capital punishment continues unabated.

More than 10 percent of the cases argued before the justices from October to April involved death row inmates.

Even with Wednesday's decisions in favor of three Texas prisoners, the court has four death penalty cases still to decide this term.

Of those, only one is from Texas, where the overwhelmingly majority of executions occur.

Of 15 people executed this year, 13 have been from Texas, including one man put to death Thursday night. One was in Ohio and the other, Oklahoma.

One explanation for the decision to consider so many death penalty cases may be how closely divided the justices are over capital punishment. Kennedy typically swings between the court's conservative and liberal blocs.

He sided with the liberals in the Texas cases, but also was the deciding vote in November to reinstate the death penalty in a California case.

"These cases reinforce that we've got four and maybe five who are always going to heavily, heavily scrutinize any death case," said Douglas Berman, an Ohio State University law professor who specializes in criminal sentencing. "And we have four and maybe rarely five who are barely ever going to second-guess in these death penalty cases."

The problem, as Berman sees it, is that Supreme Court rulings on the death penalty often are limited to the specific case before the court, unlike other cases that more frequently have wide-ranging ramifications.

The California case is a good example.

The state has had a moratorium on executions in place since February 2006. The defendant, Fernando Belmontes, has been in prison for a quarter-century for the murder of a California teenager in 1981.

7:16 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

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.

10:19 AM  
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.

10:44 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The best Christmas present the Coast Guard could give to the Lawyers from the WilmerHale law firm for former Coast Guard cadet Webster Smith would be to rule against them.
It has occurred to me that the best payment the Law Firm could get for representing Webster Smith would be another chance to make history. Taking this case pro bono, it is obvious that they will not receive any direct financial compensation for their services; but, they already have more money than they can spend.
Far more than money, a chance to make history by arguing the case before the Supreme Court would be just compensation.
I believe that they have followed this case from day one. They had a premonition of its precedent setting nature. When would another case of this unique nature come along? Not in a thousand years.
Like God up in Heaven, hoping that Pharoah would not give in and let the Hebrews go free, just so He could give the world repeated displays of his awesome power, WilmerHale may be secretly in its heart of hearts hoping the Coast Guard is as perverse as some have said that they are. That would give WilmerHale a chance to make it to the Supreme Court to argue a really very simple and easy case of the wrongful prosecution of the first Black Cadet at the Coast Guard Academy.
Now, that is a trophy worth more than a million dollar retainer. That would add a modern and impressive new paragraph to their website. They would continue to stroll down the corridors of History as the nation's preeminent civil rights law firm.
Knowing the Coast Guard as I do, I think that they are about to give WilmerHale the number one item on their Christmas Wish List.
Of course, I could be wrong and the Coast Guard just might get religion and do the right thing.
Time will tell.

12:38 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Supreme Court on Tuesday 19 Feb 2008 turned down a legal challenge to the warrantless domestic spying program President Bush created after the 9/11/2001 Muslim terrorists' attacks on the WTC.

The American Civil Liberties Union had asked the justices to hear the case after a lower court ruled the ACLU, other groups and individuals that sued the government had no legal right to do so because they could not prove they had been affected by the program. They lacked legal "standing" to sue.

The civil liberties group also asked the Supreme Court to make clear that Bush does not have the power under the U.S. Constitution to engage in intelligence surveillance within the United States that Congress has expressly prohibited.

9:01 AM  

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