Tag Archives: attorney-client privilege

Is Army Trying to Destroy Officer’s Chance for Fair Trial?

In a previous report today, I shared an update about the discovery of several dead bodies in Pembroke, Ky., and how Army Criminal Investigation Division agents have made it virtually impossible for Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin to obtain a fair trial as he prepares to fight sexual assault charges levied against him by the Army. Below, I share a treasure trove of disturbing, never-before-published details about recent events in the case.

Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin stands in front of his AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter in Balad, Iraq, in 2008. Though he’s piloted a many of the U.S. Army’s most-sophisticated attack helicopters, nothing prepared him for his battle with the military justice system.

Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin stands in front of his AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter in Balad, Iraq, in 2008. Though he’s piloted a many of the U.S. Army’s most-sophisticated attack helicopters, nothing prepared him for his battle with the military justice system.

Speaking on condition I not reveal his identity, my confidential source revealed the following:

• Major Martin has a “police dog (not sure what breed)” named “Sarge,” who went ballistic after being awakened around 2 a.m. Thursday. That’s about the same time when, according to one local news report, witnesses told investigators they had heard a noise coming from the area where two badly-burned bodies were found inside a car several hours later.

• Major Martin was working on post early Friday afternoon between 1 and 2 p.m. (Central) when he was picked up by Army Criminal Investigation Command agents who then seized his truck, his papers and his personal computer which, by the way, has served as the “central repository” for his legal defense and contained all of his legal files dating back to Sept. 6, 2013. In short, Army CID agents had access to every piece of paper and file involved in the major’s defense, constituting an incredible breach of attorney-client privilege.

• Photograph evidence exists to show Army prosecutors took files from Major Martin’s home.

• One of the files on Major Martin’s computer is an audio file recorded by the major during a phone conversation between a private investigator hired by the major and a relative of the major’s accuser and ex-wife — yes, the same woman who recently pleaded guilty in Christian County Court Oct. 14 to a felony count of bigamy after it was discovered she was still married to her previous husband at the time she married the major.

• Major Martin was held for 11 hours without food or water in an attempt to break him down after his apprehension by Army CID agents. During that time, Army Major Jacob Bashore, the special victims prosecutor handling the case against the major, reportedly failed to provide honest answers to members of the major’s defense team when, during a nine-hour period Friday, they contacted him repeatedly while in search of information about the major’s whereabouts.

• Major Martin volunteered to provide investigators from the Christian County Sheriff’s Office footage from his home security system’s multiple surveillance cameras that might have recorded events in the neighborhood that evening, but those cameras were removed by Army CID investigators before the sheriff’s officers could access the footage.

In addition to the items highlighted above, my source told told me multiple bodies were found inside the burned-out vehicle, and that was later confirmed by a spokesperson for the Christian County Sheriff’s Office who, according to a news report Monday, said the bodies in the burned-out vehicle were those of Calvin Phillips and his wife, Pam Phillips. The husband and wife lived at the home, across the street and a few doors down from Major Martin’s home, where investigators found the body of another man inside Thursday.  Correction: I misread the news report cited earlier in this paragraph (i.e., Miller says investigators have still not positively identified the body of the male victim found inside the home of Calvin and Pam Phillips at 443 South Main Street in Pembroke. A new news report confirms Calvin Phillips’ body was found inside his home on Main Street.)

According to my source, the man whose body was found at the Phillips home was a man who lived in the neighborhood and was likely to have been called to testify for the defense during Major Martin’s upcoming military trial, set to begin Dec. 1. See correction above.

The Phillips, too, were expected to be called as witnesses during the trial. Why? Because, as I reported in a previous article, Calvin is the man who stood with the major’s accuser in telling the FBI the major was a thief and an international spy. The “evidence” they turned in to the FBI as allegedly belonging to Major Martin consisted of an inoperable laptop computer that turned out to have been out of the Army’s inventory for seven years and several compact discs upon which had been scrawled words intended to indicate the CDs contained classified information.

Though the extremely-serious allegations prompted FBI officials to pass along the information to Army CID investigators, those investigators determined the allegations false after conducting an extensive six-month investigation which, unbeknownst to Major Martin as it was taking place, included surveillance and wiretapping as well as an extensive search of his off-post home.

As things stand now, Major Martin’s military trial is set to begin Dec. 1 at Fort Campbell, Ky., home to the vaunted 101st Airborne Division.

UPDATE 12/7/2015 at 8:17 a.m. Central: A military judge continued the military trial date for Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin to sometime in March 2016, though no specific date has been set.

UPDATE 12/10/2015 at 11:11 a.m. Central: I’ve learned that Major Martin’s military trial date is set for March 14-18, 2016.

Stay tuned for updates!

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Fort Campbell Officials Live Up to Negative Expectations in Response to Freedom of Information Act Request

Two weeks after I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to Army officials at Fort Campbell, Ky., I received a response today that shows officials at the home of the vaunted 101st Airborne Division lived up to my negative expectations.

The reply to my FOIA request lived up to my low expectations for the Army.

The reply to my FOIA request lived up to my low expectations for the Army.

Shown above, the response letter from Freedom of Information and Privacy Act Officer Valerie M. Florez contained the following paragraph:

The US Army does not have jurisdiction and does not control prosecutions in Hopkinsville or Christian County, Kentucky Courts where [name of Major Martin’s accuser redacted] is facing charges. Perhaps Hopkinsville or Christian County courts may be able to assist you in contacting the correct party or [name of Major Martin’s accuser redacted]‘s attorneys. Any documents or correspondence from or between the military attorneys mentioned are part of an ongoing case involving Major Martin (US vs Martin). Any of this correspondence is exempt from release and would be withheld under Freedom of Information Act Exemption Five, attorney-work product and/or attorney-client privilege.

The letter from Ms. Florez — and particularly the paragraph above — runs 180 degrees counter to what I included in my Oct. 12 FOIA request, the “meat” of which appears below:

To Whom It May Concern:

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC, and Public Law 106-554), I would like to request copies of the following documents from the Staff Judge Advocate at Fort Campbell, Ky:

Any and all print and/or electronic communications — including, but not limited to handwritten and computer-generated notes, letters, email messages and text messages — between any individual(s) assigned to the Staff Judge Advocate staff at Fort Campbell, Kentucky — including but not limited to Major Jacob D. Bashore, Captain James P. Garrett, Major Jenny S. Whyte-Schlack — and any civilian attorney(s) and/or their associates representing accused bigamist [name of Major Martin’s accuser redacted] in legal matters in Christian County, Ky.


Please do not attempt to avoid fulfillment of this request by contending that the items requested are not releasable because they concern ongoing legal matters and/or investigations. I know the U.S. Army has no standing or authority to intervene in Christian County’s civilian prosecution of Ms. [name of Major Martin’s accuser redacted].

Though I made no mention of Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin in my FOIA request, Ms. Florez avoided fulfillment of my request — just as I predicted she might in the third paragraph of my letter — by falsely claiming communications the Army attorneys had with a third party about a case completely unrelated to the prosecution of Major Martin is “exempt from release and would be withheld under Freedom of Information Act Exemption Five, attorney-work product and/or attorney-client privilege.”

In reality, Ms. Florez and her bosses realize that fulfillment of my request will expose the Army lawyers named in the same as having tampered with a civilian legal matter.

Stay tuned for updates on this case and other military justice cases I’m following. Likewise, thanks in advance for reading and sharing the articles above and those to follow. You can show your support and help keep these articles coming by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

UPDATE 10-27-2015 at 9:48 a.m. Central: After I add postage, I will place two envelopes in the U.S. Postal System. The envelopes contain letters in which I call for Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley to straighten out this FOIA mess.

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Prosecutors Accused of Misconduct, Breach in Controversial Sexual Assault Case Against Army Officer at Fort Campbell

Days after publishing a brief article about the hearing that took place Monday and Tuesday inside a military courtroom at Fort Campbell, Ky. I’m able to share more details about what took place as a military judge heard from attorneys on both sides about whether unlawful command influence and prosecutorial misconduct have tainted the prosecution of Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin. This is Part Three of a three-part series.

Army Maj. Christian "Kit" Martin is shown with two of his nephews in this undated photo.

Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin is shown with two of his nephews in this undated photo that his sister included in a letter to the general who ordered his court-martial.

First, some background: Major Martin, 47, is an Army Ranger and attack helicopter pilot with a distinguished 29-year military career — including three combat tours in Iraq — under his belt. Soon after telling his “wife” he wanted a divorce, he found himself the target of serious allegations and multiple criminal investigations followed during the next three years. Today, he faces the possibility of 58 years in prison if convicted on the most recent charges stemming from his ex-wife’s allegations of sexual assault and abuse. Because there is much more to it than I can share in one paragraph, I recommend you read the overview article about the case published Sept. 4 before you read any further.

The Article 39A hearing, essentially a pre-trial hearing during which the parties hashed out details in advance of having panel members (i.e., jurors) present, began at 8 a.m. with attorneys on both sides meeting alone with Col. Andrew Glass, the military judge.

Ninety minutes later, attorneys began making arguments about potential evidence to be presented and potential witnesses to be called during the upcoming trial. More than four hours of banter and discussion followed until 2 p.m. when the opposing parties took a one-hour break for lunch. After returning to the courtroom, four hours of testimony began. It continued for more than five hours the following day.

In the space below, I share details of the hearing based, in part, upon reports obtained from hearing attendees, none of whom happen to represent the prosecution which, to date, has opted to remain silent about the case.

BREACH OF ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE?

During the hearing’s second day, Maj. Jenny S. Whyte-Schlack testified she had spoken with Major Martin during a face-to-face meeting in November 2013 and, soon after, had written a memo containing details of the 10-minute meeting and shared it with members of the prosecution staff. In addition, however, she testified that she had not read Major Martin his Booker Rights, a statement read to individuals facing the possibility of nonjudicial punishment. Major Whyte-Schlack’s admissions are significant in light of the fact that Major Martin filed a grievance against her April 15, 2015.

In his grievance, Major Martin explained that he believed Major Whyte-Schlack was not working as a prosecutor at the time they met and that she said nothing to make him think otherwise during the meeting. Further, he claimed that her actions to inform members of the prosecution staff about their conversation constitute a breach of attorney-client privilege.

WITNESS SAYS SHE OVERHEARD PROSECUTORS

Another Army attorney called to testify during the second day of the hearing was Capt. James P. Garrett, the lead prosecutor in Major Martin’s case.

I’m told by a witness to the hearing that Colonel Glass warned Captain Garrett to only answer the questions and to not embellish his answers to questions offered by Major Martin’s counsel, Tucker Richardson III.

Often-heated exchanges between Captain Garrett and Richardson centered on what took place when the prosecutor offered Major Martin a choice between two less-than-appealing options during a meeting in March 2014.

Captain Garrett said he was not familiar with Article 15 procedures when he met with Major Martin soon after the major had left the office of Col. Michael Minor, where Part 1 of Article 15 specifications were read to him by the acting rear division commander. Still, the captain admitted, he had taken it upon himself to meet with Major Martin — without his attorney present — and offer him the choice between accepting the Article 15 — a form of non-judicial punishment that’s deadly to the career of any military officer who accepts it — or, as an alternative, facing a court-martial.

Captain Garrett was also asked about an email message he’d sent to Major Martin’s legal counsel March 26, 2014. In it, he had used words to the effect of “if Major Martin wanted to meet with the commanding general about his Article 15, then he would have to plead guilty first and, if he didn’t, then I would advise further charges could be added. When he did not deny sending the email, Captain Garrett essentially confirmed that he had sent it as a threat aimed at Major Martin (i.e., “Plead guilty to an Article 15 or we’ll find more dirt and prosecute you on more charges”). Apparently, Captain Garrett knew elevating the case to court-martial level would render as inadmissible the results of a polygraph exam Major Martin passed during an earlier investigation.

Captain Garrett was also asked how Major Martin’s Article 15 charge morphed into an Army Criminal Investigation Division investigation on the same day the major tried to meet with the commanding general and request an impartial adjudicating authority. This later escalated into 13 new charges, including rape, sexual assault and child abuse, against the major.

The captain responded by saying he contacted the accuser in April 2014 and then spoke with her neighbor, a man whom the defense described as “her lover,” and learned about several instances of alleged abuse. The allegations were followed by a new CID investigation.

Finally, Captain Garrett was asked if had had a discussion with Maj. Jacob D. Bashore, the special victims prosecutor who was the subject of my Aug. 27 article, Army Lawyer Surfaces in New Bogus Prosecution Effort, about Major Martin’s accuser the previous day while both were in the waiting room outside the courtroom. Specifically, he was asked if he had described the accuser as “totally un-credible” and if he had told Major Bashore that “(the prosecution) was only using her accusations as a threat and could drop them later.”

After Captain Garrett vehemently denied having spoken such words, Richardson
called Major Martin’s friend, Laura Spencer, to the stand.

A nursing instructor at a local university, Spencer testified that, one day earlier, she had been asked by the bailiff to wait in a side room. While waiting in that room, she said she overhead Captain Garrett tell Major Bashore the accuser “was totally un-credible as a witness, and that they were using her charges as a threat to Major Martin, and could drop them later.”  She said she also heard Major Bashore agree and that she heard Captain Garrett also say that they “could drop the charges later.”

Not surprisingly, the Army prosecutors denied such a conversation ever took place when asked about the alleged exchange on the witness stand.

To read other articles about Major Martin’s case, click here.

Thanks in advance for reading and sharing the article above and those to follow, and please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

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