Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Suits & Sentences.

"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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Coast Guard Academy sexs lands one cadet in jail, another skates.

SR was a cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. She had sex with an enlisted man during the summer of 2005, which is contrary to military regulations. Then she lied about it.
But she's not the one in with a crushed life.
Instead, as spelled out in a new opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, SR was the sole witness testifying against former Cadet Webster M. Smith. Her testimony got Smith convicted in 2006 on three sexual misconduct charges. Smith was sentenced to six months incarceration and dismissal from the service.
While stationed at the Little Creek base in Norfolk, Smith began hearing rumors that SR had had an "indiscretion." SR first told him she had non-consensual sex with an enlisted man; later, when the rumors persisted, SR acknowledged the sex was both consensual and more extensive than she first indicated. Smith responded that:
"He would continue to try to suppress the rumors, but that he needed motivation to do so. (Smith) denied he was seeking sexual favors but suggested the couple take a photograph of themselves naked together to build 'trust in one another.' After the photo, (Smith) left but returned to her room later that evening."
Then, he performed cunnilingus on her and she performed fellatio on him. The opinion is more explicit than that.
Here was the question: should Smith have been permitted to raise the specifics of SR's "indiscretion," as evidence that she had a habit of lying about sexual encounters?
The appellate court in its divided March 29 opinion thought not, reasoning that "while Cadet SR’s credibility was in contention, it is unclear why the lurid nuances of her sexual past would have added much to (Smith's) extant theory of fabrication."
Two dissenters countered that the inability to specify SR's sexual past hurt Smith's defense, stating that "with this limited information about SR’s secret, the members were left to speculate whether the secret was a minor disciplinary infraction or a more serious charge, but they had no idea that the proffered evidence directly implicated SR’s motive and credibility."
Smith was the first cadet to be court martialed in the Coast Guard Academy's history.
Posted by Mike Doyle at 10:29 AM | Permalink
Technorati Tags: Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Court of appeals for the armed forces.

1 comment:

ichbinalj said...

Socrates said that a man who fights for justice must lead a private rather than a public life if he expects to survive.