Tag Archives: prosecutor

SHOCK: Army Prosecutor Cited Wikipedia as Source During Green Beret’s Court-Martial on Sexual Assault Charges

On Day Two of the Army’s court-martial of one of it’s finest Green Berets, a prosecution attorney cited a suspect source as he questioned Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart about his training. See if you can spot the source in the excerpt from the Record of Trial that appears below:

Click on image above to order book.

Click on image above to order book.

TC: At the SERE course you’re taught how to resist violent captors, is that correct?
Stewart: Again, sir, unless I’m authorized by the SOCEUR Public Affairs Officer, I can’t discuss the training that I received at the SERE-level C School.

TC: You’re taught how to resist torture?
Stewart: Again, sir–

TC: We’re going to go through this, so, that’s fine–
Stewart: No, again, sir, I don’t know what I’m authorized to discuss with you because I’m not the releasing authority of my training.

TC: I got this off of Wikipedia.com.

[Legend: SERE = Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape; TC = Trial Counsel; SOCEUR = Special Operations Command Europe; CDC = Civilian Defense Counsel; and MJ = Military Judge.]

That’s right! He said, “I got this off of Wikipedia.” Unbelievable!

How would you feel if you were found guilty by a court-martial panel (i.e., the military equivalent of a jury) that sided with a prosecutor who cited Wikipedia.com as a source during your cross-examination?

Find out how Stewart feels about his conviction inside my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight for Military Justice, which went on sale for the first time just over four years ago.

FYI: I shared the piece above for the first time four years ago today. Since then, I’ve covered many other military justice cases. I hope you’ll read and share this story as well as the others I’ve written and published. Thanks in advance!

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.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Attorneys Who Win Small Battles Might Win Legal War

An elite Army Ranger and attack helicopter pilot at Fort Campbell, Ky., Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin, 47, has flown some 1,000 combat flying hours. Nothing, however, could have prepared him for the battle he’s fighting now as he tries to avoid becoming a victim of the Pentagon’s sexual assault witch hunt that could send him to prison for 58 years* for something he did not do. Below, I share the opinions of two attorneys (who shall remain nameless) about Major Martin’s case — which involves false sexual assault allegations as well as Army prosecutors and commanders under political pressure to win a conviction at all cost — and about how the attorneys who win the small battles might win the legal war.

My cat, Butters, tries to predict the future by looking into his porcelain bowl.

This photo shows my cat, Butters, looking into his porcelain bowl in an effort to predict the future. Unfortunately, he’s about as reliable in predicting the future as the military justice system is in determining innocence and guilt.

ATTORNEY #1

“I’d like to pick your brain for just a moment,” I wrote in an email two days ago to a former top legal officer for one branch of the U.S. military. “I’m working on a story involving an Army major accused of sexual assault by a woman soon after he asked her for a divorce. I don’t describe her as the major’s wife, because she is now facing bigamy charges in Kentucky.”

I went on to explain that Major Martin had learned — after asking her for a divorce — that she had never divorced her first husband before marrying him. And then I asked my question:

“If the woman is found guilty or pleads guilty to bigamy, can the Department of the Army or Department of Defense sue her or prosecute her for anything, such as obtaining goods and services under false pretenses?”

I thanked him in advance for his thoughts on the matter and, as expected, received his reply early Monday afternoon:

“The short answer is that the Army or DoD would have to request the Department of Justice pursue any sort of recovery. The DoJ would likely send it to the local U.S. Attorney wherever he resides and do an analysis of the merits and the cost/benefit to pursue it. My guess (and it is just a guess) is that the U.S. Attorney would not pursue it.”

ATTORNEY #2

While some might say the attorney’s reply doesn’t bode well for Major Martin, another attorney sees reason for optimism in the major’s camp. He works in the criminal division of a U.S. Attorney’s office in a major U.S. city, and he offered a different view of the same situation.

He said an Army prosecutor with knowledge of a person’s breaking the law — for instance, obtaining goods and services (i.e., healthcare services and the benefits of discounted shopping at the post commissary and exchange facilities) under false pretenses (i.e., pretending to be a military spouse when one is not legally married to a member of the military) from the federal government — not only “has the authority (to initiate prosecution), (but) he has the obligation.” Further, he said the military prosecutor would be committing “a felony on his part” if he fails to act while having such knowledge.

Do the Army prosecutors have knowledge of wrongdoing by Major Martin’s accuser? I believe they do.

They are aware Katherine (Garber) Foster, assistant prosecutor in Christian County, Ky., conducted a thorough investigation that led to a bigamy charge based upon what she believes is rock-solid evidence she can use to prove Major Martin’s accuser committed bigamy.

In addition, they are aware Christian County Family Court Judge Jason Shea Fleming voided the marriage between Major Martin and his female accuser based upon evidence she never obtained a divorce from her first husband, the father of her two youngest children.

Will the prosecutors in Major Martin’s case — Maj. Jacob D. Bashore and Capt. James P. Garrett — use their authority and fulfill their obligation to report the woman’s apparent crime (i.e., impersonation of a military spouse and, in turn, the theft of goods and services from the U.S. Government) to the U.S. Attorney in Kentucky? I certainly hope so, because doing otherwise would not be very becoming of Army officers and gentlemen.

‘CHESS PIECES’ IN PLAY

Then again, there are a lot of “chess pieces” in play right now.

For instance, if local prosecutor Foster offers Major Martin’s accuser some sort of pre-trial diversion linked to a sentence of one year or longer, she would not serve any jail time unless or until she committed another crime, such as perjury, during the term of her diversion.

As I reported yesterday, Hopkinsville, Ky., civilian defense attorney Brandi Jones is not only attempting to prevent local prosecutor Foster from prosecuting the case against her client, Major Martin’s accuser, in civilian court, but she’s hoping Christian County Judge Andrew Self will agree to her request and push back her client’s trial date until after Major Martin’s military trial, expected to run Dec. 1 to 4.

Jones knows that, if she’s successful in both preventing Foster from testifying and in delaying her client’s trial, it’s highly unlikely Judge (Col.) Andrew Glass will allow any reference to bigamy and/or perjury allegations against the woman to be aired in his military courtroom during Major Martin’s military trial. And that would not bode well for the major. If, however, Judge Self refuses to delay Jones’ client’s trial, then Major Martin might have a chance of seeing his accuser explaining herself on the witness stand during his military trial. Of course, there are no guarantees, and he’s seen his witness requests denied before.

Stay tuned for updates!

For a recap of what took place during a recent one-month period in Major Martin’s life, read “Thirty Days of Hell in the Life of an Accused Army Officer.”

For all other articles about Major Martin’s case, click here.

Thanks in advance for reading and sharing this article and those to follow. Meanwhile, 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.

UPDATE 10/14/2015 at 2:17 p.m. Central: Less than two hours after publishing the article above, I received word that Major Martin’s accuser entered a guilty plea to a bigamy charge. Sentencing is set for Feb. 17. I hope the Army prosecutors are paying attention as she is now a convicted felon.

*UPDATE: After publishing this article, I learned Army prosecutors agreed to limit any possible punishment in this case to 10 years. A sign they have a weak case?”

UPDATE 12/7/2015 at 8:23 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 11:12 a.m. Central: I’ve learned that Major Martin’s military trial date is set for March 14-18, 2016.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Accused Fort Campbell Soldiers Up Against Sexual Offense Conviction Rate 16.5 Percent Higher Than Army Average

Thanks to experience, equipment and training, American Soldiers have an advantage over their enemies when it comes time to fight a war. When it comes to fighting sexual offense charges, however, some Soldiers are at a distinct disadvantage. Why? Because they find themselves stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., where, during the first six months of 2015, prosecutors at the home of the vaunted 101st Airborne Division logged a conviction rate 16.5 percent higher than the Army average in cases that went to trial and involved at least one allegation of a sexual offense.

This chart lists Army outcomes of cases involving charges of a sexual nature between Jan. 1-June 20, 2015.

This chart lists Army outcomes of cases involving charges of a sexual nature between Jan. 1-June 20, 2015.

From Jan. 1-June 30, 2015, according to Army statistics republished in Army Times and Military Times but seemingly impossible to find on the Army website, Fort Campbell prosecutors had a conviction rate of 88.8 percent when prosecuting cases that went to trial and involved at least one allegation of a sexual offense. During the same time period, Army prosecutors worldwide garnered convictions in only 72.3 percent of similar cases.

Though I thought about asking a civilian defense attorney who represents Soldiers at Fort Campbell if the huge difference in conviction rates might form a solid basis for a Soldier to appeal his conviction on this types of charge, I decided doing so might be a waste of my time. After all, any good defense attorney is going to say it would. At the same time, he would remain up against a formidable military justice machine that’s under political pressure from liberal politicos and war-on-women activists hungry to apply their brand of political correctness to — and thereby weaken — our nation’s military.

Most likely to be hurt by this huge disparity in military justice outcomes are people like Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin, a 29-year military veteran who stands accused of bogus sexual assault allegations and is set to go on trial Dec. 1 at Fort Campbell. To learn more about his case, read these articles.

UPDATE 12/7/2015 at 8:19 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 11:13 a.m. Central: I’ve learned that Major Martin’s military trial date is set for March 14-18, 2016.

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.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

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.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Local Prosecutor Says Fort Campbell Counterparts Tried to Pressure Her to Drop Charge Against Army Officer’s Accuser

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 Two of a three-part series.

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.

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.

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.

LOCAL CIVILIAN PROSECUTOR TESTIFIES

In addition to the testimony highlighted in Part One of this series, more damning testimony surfaced when defense attorney Katherine Demps questioned Katherine (Garber) Foster, the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Attorney for Christian County (a.k.a., “the local civilian prosecutor”).

Foster testified Tuesday afternoon that she had been contacted in October and November 2014 by two of the Army attorneys involved in prosecuting Major Martin: 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; and Capt. James P. Garrett, the lead prosecutor.

Foster also told the court she had felt pressured by both officers to drop her bigamy case against Major Martin’s accuser who, it turns out, appears to have never gotten a divorce from the father of her two youngest children before she married the major.

Regarding Major Bashore, specifically, Foster testified that he had contacted her repeatedly by email and phone.

One example of Major Bashore’s pressure can be found in the wording of an email exchange between Foster and the SVP, a copy of which I obtained. The exchange began with Foster contacting Major Bashore about an Army-related “bigamy and fraud question.” The words of her initial inquiry, stamped Oct. 7, 2014, at 4:19 p.m., appear below with the name of the accuser redacted and only minor formatting modifications:

“Major Bashore, I hope all is well at Fort Campbell! I have a rather interesting case, the victim being a soldier, Major Chris Martin, and his ex-wife, who is charged with bigamy. I am aware that he is under investigation by the military for claims of sexual assault by the ex-wife. Long, long, long story short, I was wondering if the military would ever prosecute the ex-wife for fraud since she obtained military benefits as a spouse while actually being married to another man. Thoughts?”

Barely 24 hours later (Oct. 8, 2014, at 5:04 p.m.), Major Bashore replied as follows:

“Hey, sorry for the delay. Been in trial the last two days. MAJ Martin is being court-martialed for the sexual abuse of his children, for assaulting his children and his former wife, and for some purely military offenses. MAJ Martin seems to be making a cottage industry for himself on being a ‘victim.’ But, no, we couldn’t prosecute the wife even if we wanted to as the military does not have jurisdiction over civilians.”

He closed his email with a telling question:

“Are y’all really going after her?”

Appearing to hold no punches while maintaining her demeanor, Foster replied the following day at 9:13 a.m:

“Yes, sir. Right now she has bigamy charges, and we are also looking to indict her on Tampering with a Witness stemming from her hearing in Family Court in 2012. Although I have only met with (Major Martin’s accuser) in the past and had not spoken with Major Martin until this week, I’ve been aware of their issues for the past two years, and I honestly find her behavior concerning. Major Martin’s attorney has been unsuccessful in finding any certificate for divorce on file in the four different counties in which (Major Martin’s accuser) has alleged that her divorce may have been granted. Additionally, (Major Martin’s accuser) and her attorney have not been able to produce any documents pertaining to a divorce despite repeated requests from Major Martin’s attorney. Judge Fleming annulled the marriage on June 11, 2014, and a finding of fact in that action is that (Major Martin’s accuser) was still married to (name of first husband of Major Martin’s accuser) when she married Major Martin.”

Regarding Captain Garrett, Foster testified she felt he had been “intense” with her and said she was insulted by his demeanor. In addition, she told the court she had spent 45 minutes telling Captain Garrett she had personally witnessed the Sept. 18, 2012, hearing during which Major Martin’s “wife” attempted to obtain an Emergency Protective Order against Major Martin. She told the court she concluded that Major Martin’s accuser was untruthful and had committed witness tampering with her children.

Apparently, Army prosecutors don’t like the local civilian prosecutor’s plan to prosecute Major Martin’s accuser because it weakens their case against the Regular Army officer.

On the second day of the hearing, Captain Garrett was asked why he had contacted Foster and why he should not be held in account for an apparent Brady Violation for waiting 60 days to inform the defense of his communication with Foster.

Worth noting: Major Martin’s attorneys have filed disciplinary complaints against Major Bashore and Captain Garrett in the states of Tennessee and Texas where they are, respectively, licensed to practice law. Also worth noting is the fact that Foster’s testimony seems to dovetail with the information I shared in my aforementioned Sept. 4 article, including news about the arrest of Major Martin’s accuser, her release on $5,000 bond and an Oct. 22 trial date being set for her case.

The local civilian prosecutor wasn’t the only person to testify about having an uncomfortable conversation with Army prosecutors. Two Army officers at Fort Campbell testified about the advice they received from the legal officers.

Maj. Lance Fountain, acting commander of the unit to which Major Martin was assigned, testified that Captain Garrett had advised him to not allow the accused officer to take leave (a.k.a., “earned vacation time”) so that he could meet with his defense attorneys two weeks prior to his first court-martial-related hearing in April 2015. Soon after Major Fountain testified, an audio recording of a conversation between the two majors was played in the courtroom for all to hear. The subject: Captain Garrett and the prosecution team’s efforts to block Major Martin from taking leave since June 2014. According to courtroom insiders, it clearly shows prosecutorial misconduct.

Another officer, Lt. Col. Nickolaus Guran, testified that he, too, had refused to approve some of Major Martin’s leave requests based upon advice from Army prosecutors. In addition, he testified that the major had not received initial written counseling and had not been assigned a duty position until six months after he had been assigned to his battalion.

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.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.