Sunday, January 27, 2008

Female Officer Fraternization Cases A Serious Problem.

On March 16, 1997 Lt. Col. Karen Tew found her 19-year career as an Air Force officer over. It was destroyed by her admission that she had an improper relationship with an enlisted man.

As soon as her guilty plea and dismissal were upheld on automatic appeal Colonel Karen Tew would lose her rank and all her benefits, including her military life insurance and death benefits for her survivors.

Her two teen-age daughters would get nothing from the Air Force unless Tew died before her discharge was final.
That Sunday, as Tew sat alone in her parents’ St. Charles, Mo., home, she didn't reach for the phone to call the mental health counselor she had been seeing since early December.

She reached for a shotgun and put it to her head. She was dead at age 41.

Tew is at least the third military member in 1997 to commit suicide after being charged with sexual misconduct. Her case was among those cited in a Time magazine article. But unlike the two others — an Army private charged with rape and an Army staff sergeant accused of indecent assault on a female soldier — Tew’s crime is not even illegal in the civilian world.

She's not alone — the Air Force's first female bomber pilot, 1st Lt. Kelly Flinn, was charged with fraternizing with an enlisted airman, adultery with the civilian husband of an enlisted woman, and disobeying orders to stay away from the men.

The Air Force has seen an almost yearly increase in adultery cases since 1990 and cases of fraternization — an officer having an improper relationship with a subordinate — shot up in 1994.

Both charges can get the offender kicked out of the service, but fraternization is considered the worst — it can bring up to two years in prison, while adultery has a maximum of one year.

With more women in the military, and units spending more time away from home, more opportunity exists for improper actions.

At the same time, Air Force leaders have been cracking down on such relationships, which then chief of staff, Gen. Ronald Fogleman, has described as part of the “climate of corrosion” and “culture of compromise” that threatens the service unless it returns to core values of integrity and honesty.

Capt. Bill Barksdale, a spokesman for Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, said fraternization especially can destroy a unit’s ability to work together.

“It’s tough, when you’re not in the military, to understand just what it can do to a unit,” he said. “It’s about fairness and equity in your workplace. It’s about professional working relationships — that’s what you want to maintain.”

It’s not clear why Tew would have jeopardized a career she had pursued her entire adult life.

Initially, Scott Air Force Base officials did not publicize the fact that a senior officer was charged with two counts of adultery, sodomy and fraternization. Barksdale said his office was not notified until after Tew committed suicide.

The Air Force has not released the record of Tew’s court-martial and the investigation that preceded it.

One supposition is that Tew, who was under counseling because she was considered suicidal, wanted to preserve benefits for her daughters, ages 15 and 16.
If she died before being kicked out, survivors would receive her military life insurance, a death payment and keep other benefits, such as health care.
“She understood that,” Barksdale said. “I know she knew exactly what would happen if she committed suicide.”
Until a year ago, Tew was what the Air Force calls a “fast burner,” especially considering she was not a pilot but a finance officer.

She was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 1978, through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Southeast Missouri State University..
Tew held a variety of Air Force finance jobs with increasing responsibility, earning two Air Force Achievement medals, two Air Force Commendation medals and two Meritorious Service medals.
On March 2, 1994, Tew reported to Air Mobility Command headquarters at Scott, where she became chief of the resource section for the command’s inspector general — a high-profile job that required frequent travel to inspect subordinate units all over the world.
Such an assignment, and the master’s degree she had completed, made her a likely candidate for promotion to full colonel.
Before coming to Scott, Tew served as a comptroller with an Air Force wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Her husband and their daughters, Mary and Lisa, remained in Florida when she moved there.

On April 15, 1996, the judge advocate general’s (JAG) office of Scott’s 375th Airlift Wing received a call from someone — the Air Force has not said who — accusing Tew of adultery with a major in the Marine Corps Reserve.
The JAG is the military’s lawyers. It passed the information on to the regional Office of Special Investigations (OSI), the Air Force’s detectives.
On April 25, investigators contacted Master Sgt. Craig Collier, another member of the inspector general’s team, who rented Tew an apartment in the basement of his house.

According to Barksdale, the investigators wanted to know whether Tew’s landlord knew anything about the Marine but got a surprise: When they asked Collier whether he knew why they were there, he told them he assumed it was because he had an affair with Tew.
Collier was given immunity from prosecution and ordered to tell the truth about his relationship with Tew.

Collier told investigators that between March and November 1994, he and Tew had sex at various temporary duty stations, including after he got married.
The relationship was dormant until August 1995, when it resumed and ended again within the same week.
Collier since has been transferred to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

The Air Force ordered an Article 32 investtigation, roughly the equivalent of a civilian grand jury investigation. Because of scheduling conflicts, it was not held until Nov. 25. Tew did not present a defense.

Tew’s defense counsel expressed concern that Tew was suicidal — she already had met with a chaplain a dozen times — and persuaded commanders to appoint a mental health professional who could meet with Tew in a confidential manner.
Between Dec. 4, when the Article 32 officer recommended the case be sent to trial, and her March 11 court martial, Tew met with the mental health professional 30 times as well as talking to him on the phone 40 to 50 times, an average of four contacts a week.
On March 11, Tew pleaded guilty to fraternization — the most serious charge — under a pretrial agreement, and two charges of adultery and a charge of sodomy were dropped.

Tew was sentenced to dismissal from the service and loss of benefits. Immediately after the sentencing, the mental health counselor spent between 90 minutes and two hours talking to Tew. They spoke for a similar amount of time on Thursday, March 13, and Tew confirmed an appointment for the following Monday.
She never kept it.
Viola Dwyer, Tew’s mother, said she knew her daughter was in trouble, but Tew told her little.
“I didn't even discuss that with her when she came home,” Dwyer said. “I asked her what her chances were (with the appeal), and she said she didn't think it would make a bit of difference.
“I know why she didn't want us there — she didn't want us to hear all of it.”

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Olympic Champion Sentenced to Six Months In jail.

Olympic gold medal champion Marion Jones has been sentenced to 6 months in prison for lying to federal prosecutors investigating the use of performance enhancing drugs in major sports.
She begged the judge not to separate her from her two young children "even for a short period of time".
Jones pleaded to U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas, "I ask you to be as merciful as a human being cab be". The Judge was not persuaded or sympathetic. He sentenced her to the maximum allowed under the plea-bargain deal. He said he wanted to send a strong message to all athletes who have abused drugs.
The 31 year old Gold Medal Olympic champion was also given 2 years probation and supervised release. She will be required to serve 800 hours community service. She won 3 Gold Medals and 2 Bronze Medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She was required to return them.
Marion Jones will begin serving her prison sentence on 11 March 2008.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Will Webster Smith case prove no lie can live forever?

(ARLINGTON, Va., 16 January 2008) Former cadet Webster Smith, the first man ever court-martialed at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, sought to have his conviction overturned on Wednesday, 16 January 2008.The former cadet appeared before the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals outside Washington. The Coast Guard started investigating allegations in 2006 that he raped his former girlfriend, Kristen Nicholson, a fellow cadet and the Coast Guard Academy's first female Regimental Commander, after she got drunk at a party. Smith was acquitted of rape, but convicted on extortion and sodomy charges based on a sexual encounter he had with a different female cadet, Shelley Raudenbush, in her room in Chase Hall, the cadet barracks. He was sentenced to served six months in a military jail on the lesser charges. He was released after five months because of good behavior.
The court, especially Chief Judge Lane I. McClelland, a former Coast Guard law specialist, briskly questioned lawyers from both sides during the hour-long session. The small gallery was packed with more than 20 people.Channel 3 Eyewitness News reporter Eric Parker reported from Arlington that Smith's civilian lawyers argued on Wednesday that their client's rights were violated by a decision made during the court-martial. Smith did not speak during the hearing before a three-judge panel.At the court-martial, Coast Guard lawyers argued that Smith had coerced the female cadet into the sexual activity in exchange for his keeping a secret for her -- a secret that WAS the basis for much of the appeal presented Wednesday.
The defense argued that the trial judge at the court-martial didn't allow defense lawyers then to properly cross-examine Shelley Raudenbush. She was essentially given a free ride. She even testified under a grant of immunity. No charges could have been filed against her for any of her past misconduct. There was really no reason not to allow a vigorous cross-examination of Shelly Raudenbush, except that the entire trial had been a witch hunt designed to make an example of Webster Smith, a top football player and the most popular Black cadet in the senior class. The two men most responsible for this travesty were Captain Douglas Wisniewski and Admiral james Van Sice.
Smith's lawyers argued that since they weren't allowed to tell jurors specifics of the secret, or about past sexual charges levied by the same female cadet Shelly Raudenbush, they lost the chance to attack her credibility. The trial was a classic "he-said, she-said" soap opera.
Jurors ultimately appeared to believe her version of events over Smith's.That was the version that the Academy Command was pushing. There were many instances of undue command influence through the trail.
Webster Smith's appellate defense attorney asked the court to "take a fresh look at the evidence to see if there was sufficient evidence to convict Cadet Smith."Defense lawyers argued if it weren't for Shelly raudenbush's testimony, the verdict "would have been a clean sweep."They also said that without the extortion charge, the sodomy charge for the sex acts in the Shelly raudenbush's cadet's room, must be thrown out. The defense argued that if it wasn't forced, the oral sex was nothing more than a consensual act between two adults of the same rank and not criminal.
The Government's Appellate Attorney, Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Flynn argued that the conviction should be upheld, saying, "They looked at the evidence and found beyond a reasonable doubt that the elements of extortion were met."The court could simply uphold the sentence, order a new trial or permanently overturn the verdict if it finds no reasonable jury could have voted to convict Webster Smith. The court will eventually issue a written opinion, which could take as long as several months to be released.
The defense had limited comments outside the court."We're waiting for the process to play out and we have no further comment at this time," defense attorney Ronald Machen said. Should either side disagree with this court's ruling, they can appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, after which they would have to apply for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.A civil lawsuit could also be filed.The courtroom was closed to News cameras during hearing.

Former CGA Cadet, Caitlin Stopper

(Caitlin Stopper, said:” Seeing those God-forsaken red brick buildings of Chase Hall and Hamilton Hall in the picture makes me sick to my stomach. I will never go back there as long as I live.”)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

450 E Street, Northwest

Washington, D.C. 20442-0001


United States v. Webster M. Smith, No. 08-0719/CG

(Appellee) (Appellant)

Counsel for Appellant: Ronald C. Machen, Esq.

Counsel for Appellee: LT Emily P. Reuter, USCG

Case Summary: GCM conviction of going from place of duty, attempting to disobey an order, sodomy, extortion, and indecent assault. Granted issue questions whether the military judge violated Appellant’s constitutional right to confront his accusers by limiting his cross-examination of [SR], the government’s only witness, on three of the five charges.

NOTE: Counsel for each side will be allotted 20 minutes to present oral argument in this case.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Right to Privacy versus National Security or nosiness.

U.S. courts consider legality of laptop computer inspections.
A couple of years ago, Michael Arnold landed at the Los Angeles International Airport after a 20-hour flight from the Philippines. He had his laptop with him, and a customs officer took a look at what was on his hard drive. Clicking on folders called "Kodak pictures" and "Kodak memories," the officer found child pornography.
The search was not unusual: The government contends that it is perfectly free to inspect every laptop that enters the country, whether or not there is anything suspicious about the computer or its owner. Rummaging through a computer's hard drive, the government says, is no different from looking through a suitcase. One federal appeals court has agreed, and a second seems ready to follow suit.
There is one lonely voice on the other side. In 2006, Judge Dean Pregerson of U.S. District Court in Los Angeles suppressed the evidence against Arnold.
"Electronic storage devices function as an extension of our own memory," Pregerson wrote, in explaining why the government should not be allowed to inspect them without cause. "They are capable of storing our thoughts, ranging from the most whimsical to the most profound."
Computer hard drives, Pregerson continued, can include diaries, letters, medical information, financial records, trade secrets, attorney-client materials and information about reporters' "confidential sources and story leads."
But Pregerson's decision seems to be headed for reversal. The three judges who heard the arguments in October in the appeal of his decision seemed persuaded that a computer is just a container and deserves no special protection from searches at the border. The same information in hard-copy form, their questions suggested, would doubtless be subject to search.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, Virginia, took that position in a 2005 decision. It upheld the conviction of John Ickes Jr., who crossed the Canadian border with a computer containing child pornography. A customs agent's suspicions were raised, the court's decision said, "after discovering a video camera containing a tape of a tennis match, which focused excessively on a young ball boy."
It is true that the government should have great leeway in searching physical objects at the border. But the law requires a little more - a "reasonable suspicion" - when the search is especially invasive, as when the human body is involved.
Searching a computer, said Jennifer Chacon, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, "is fairly intrusive." Like searches of the body, she said, such "an invasive search should require reasonable suspicion."
An interesting supporting brief filed in the Arnold case by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and the Electronic Frontier Foundation said there had to be limits on the government's ability to acquire information.
"Under the government's reasoning," the brief said, "border authorities could systematically collect all of the information contained on every laptop computer, BlackBerry and other electronic device carried across our national borders by every traveler, American or foreign." That is, the brief said, "simply electronic surveillance after the fact."
The government went even further in the case of Sebastien Boucher, a Canadian who lives in New Hampshire. Boucher crossed the Canadian border by car about a year ago, and a customs agent noticed a laptop in the back seat.
Asked whether he had child pornography on his laptop, Boucher said he was not sure. He said he had downloaded a lot of pornography but had deleted child pornography when he found it.
Some of the files on Boucher's computer were encrypted using a program called Pretty Good Privacy, and Boucher helped the agent look at them, apparently by entering an encryption code. The agent said he had seen lots of revolting pornography involving children.
The government seized the laptop. But when it tried to open the encrypted files again, it could not. A grand jury instructed Boucher to provide the password.
But a federal magistrate judge quashed that instruction in November, saying that requiring Boucher to provide it would violate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Last week, the government appealed.
The magistrate judge, Jerome Niedermeier of U.S. District Court in Burlington, Vermont, used an analogy from Supreme Court precedent. It is one thing to require a defendant to surrender a key to a safe and another to make him disclose its combination.
The government can make you provide samples of your blood and handwriting and the sound of your voice. It can make you put on a shirt or stand in a lineup. But it cannot make you testify about facts or beliefs that may incriminate you, Niedermeier said.
Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami, writing about the Boucher case on his blog, said, "The core value of the Fifth Amendment is that you can't be made to speak in ways that indicate your guilt."
But Orin Kerr, a law professor at the George Washington University, said Niedermeier had probably gotten it wrong.
"In a normal case," Kerr said in an interview, "there would be a privilege." But given what Boucher had already done at the border, he said, making him provide the password again would probably not violate the Fifth Amendment.
There are all sorts of lessons in these cases. One is that the border seems be a privacy-free zone. A second is that encryption programs work. A third is that you should keep your password to yourself. And the most important is that you should leave your laptop at home.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Warrantless Search and Seizure. DNA Left on Chicken Bones.

Thanks to Colonel Sanders millions of Americans are addicted to the finger licking flavor of fried, broiled, or barbequed chicken. The simple act of licking an envelop, placing a stamp on a letter, or eating a piece of chicken will leave enough DNA for a modern Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) to identify the person who licked the envelop, touched the stamp, or ate the chicken.

Kansas City, Missouri police used DNA evidence found on chicken bones at the scene of a burglary to trace a suspect whose DNA was in the Data Base.

A trail of chicken bones left at a burglary scene more than a year ago has led investigators to a Kansas prison inmate with a hardy appetite for chicken.

Authorities on 3 January 2008 charged John Wyatt Weaver, 43, of Kansas City, with two counts of burglary and one count of stealing a firearm. Weaver is already serving time at Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas for an unrelated crime.

Police tracked down the suspect through DNA left on six chicken bones strewn throughout a Gladstone apartment where several firearms were stolen in November 2006.

"The facts of this are more amusing than anything I can say," said prosecutor Daniel White.

Weaver is accused of entering two Gladstone homes on Nov. 23, 2006, court records show. At one of the crime scenes, the homeowner reported several shotguns, rifles and handguns missing.

Investigators at the scene found chewed-up chicken scattered around the residence - leftovers authorities believe were stolen from a refrigerator at the earlier burglary.

The Kansas City crime lab examined the bones for DNA evidence. White said the DNA on the bones matched that of Weaver, a convicted felon whose DNA had been entered into the national database.

Was this a warrantless search? Yes. Was it reasonable? Perhaps.
Was it in violation of the 4th Amendment of The US Constitution that guarantees all Americans the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and affects against unreasonable searches and seizures unless pursuant to a warrant issued after a showing of probable cause before a neutral and independent magistrate? Yes, I think it was.

And did this force the accused to be a witness against himself and give self incriminating evidence in violation of the 5th Amendment? It quite possibly did.

How long will it take for these kinds of cases to work their way up through the State and Federal Courts to the Supreme Court?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Two Disagree Below Zero.

An Antarctic worker was a victim of a Christmas brawl on Saturday December 29, 2007.

Fighting is not unknown in the harsh conditions of Antarctica.
A man has been sacked after a Christmas Day bar fight at the South Pole left a colleague with a broken jaw and sparked an $110,000 emergency flight to Christchurch Hospital.

But what happens in Antarctica apparently stays in Antarctica, with officials refusing to be drawn on whether cabin fever or alcohol sparked the brawl.

The two men, however, were unlikely to be scientists, as they were employed by Raytheon Polar Services, which provides the United States-run research stations in Antarctica with support personnel, ranging from cleaners to mechanics.

But the South Pole slugfest is not the first. A reported midwinter bar fight in April 2001 forced a Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules to make a dangerous 15-hour flight to Antarctica to pick up sick and injured people, including one evacuee with a black eye and broken facial bones.

At the time, it was understood that frosty relationships and a dose of cabin fever may have contributed to the evacuation.

The Christmas fight took place at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, which houses up to 150 people during the summer season.

"There was an altercation between two people ... there's no indication of the cause or of the background between the two folks," said US National Science Foundation spokesman Peter West.

Dr Karl Erb, head of the US Antarctic programme, said the man had been sacked.

"The assailant has been removed from Antarctica and his contract terminated by his employer. Such behaviour has no place whatsoever in the US Antarctic programme."

Mr West said the injured person had been flown to the larger McMurdo Station - near New Zealand's Scott Base - for treatment.

Medical staff at McMurdo assessed the man's injury to be more serious than they could treat, and he was flown to Christchurch - accompanied by a flight nurse and paramedic - on board a US Air Force Hercules.
Mr West said the incremental cost of the medivac was approximately US$85,000 ($110,000) including fuel costs and reimbursement for flight hours.

"The additional costs were incurred because the medivac was required during a period of normally reduced flight activity - specifically the Christmas holiday.

"The injured party is, to my knowledge, still in Christchurch and is recuperating after being treated."

A Christchurch Hospital spokeswoman said a man was admitted on Christmas Day, and was discharged on Boxing Day.

Mr West would not be drawn on whether cabin fever or alcohol were factors in the fight.

Raytheon public relations manager Val Carroll said she knew nothing of the circumstances which caused the fight.

An investigation will be conducted, she said.

Graham White, North Island vice-president of the NZ Antarctic Society, said cabin fever was unlikely during the summer season.

"The situation socially is no different to anywhere else. What can happen socially on the ice probably reflects normal life really.

"Living down there is geared to make you feel as much at home as possible."

But the winter season, with its 24 hours of total darkness, is something else.

"They've definitely done studies of people deprived of light for those periods of time. Small problems can become bigger problems than what they would normally be."

Chris Knight, a mechanic who was last down in 2001-02, told the Herald in 2004 that there was "a bit of macho" in the winter.

"You just sort it out amongst yourselves."