Yesterday evening, government prosecutors filed a motion with the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA), asking that the unanimous ruling of a 3-judge panel in favor of LtCol Jeffery Chessani, USMC, be reconsidered by all 9 judges of the court. A majority of these 9 judges would have to agree to take the case.
On March 17, 2009, the 3-judge panel of NMCCA unanimously vindicated the ruling by Colonel Steven A. Folsom, USMC, dismissing all charges against LtCol Chessani on the grounds of Unlawful Command Influence. LtCol Chessani is the senior-most officer criminally charged as a result of the much-publicized and ill-described “Haditha massacre.”
The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, represents LtCol Chessani alongside his detailed military attorneys LtCol Jon Shelburne, USMC; Capt Jeffrey King, USMC; and Capt Kyle Kilian, USMC.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “The way our government has treated this true American hero is outrageous. After spending over 20 years in loyal service to his nation and considered one of the best combat officers in Iraq, the government is giving Jeffrey Chessani less legal consideration than it is giving the terrorists held at Guantanamo.”
In dismissing the charges against LtCol Chessani, Col Folsom described Unlawful Command Influence as the “the mortal enemy of military justice.” But despite the solid legal basis for the ruling, the government appealed the decision to NMCCA. NMCCA heard oral arguments on the government’s appeal on October 17, 2008.
In seeking a reconsideration by the entire panel of NMCCA, government prosecutors now argue that the 3-judge panel misunderstood the difference between an officer’s rank and his billet (job). Essentially, the government argues that a full colonel in the Marine Corps could not unlawfully influence a Lieutenant Colonel if they held similar billet (job) positions.
The Law Center has a week to file a response to the government’s motion for reconsideration.
If the NMCCA does grant the government’s motion, the government then has 60 days to appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) and then even to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life through litigation, education, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization. You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.
Especially considering the fact that then-Capt. Jeffrey Dinsmore's PowerPoint presentation went up the chain of command, how can persecutors say with a straight face that Lt. Col. Chessani didn't commit to a full investigation? This is the military persecuting its own war heroes.
Finally, let's remember that Col. Folsom's ruling was that military leaders exerted undue command influence. These leaders essentially told the investigators what they'd find before their investigation concluded. (Doesn't that sound similar to Rep. Murtha saying that he knew there was a coverup somewhere?)
It's time for the military's persecution of Lt. Col. Chessani and SSgt. Wuterich. It's time that the military admitted that the Haditha Marine investigation was about politics, not about investigating a real scandal.
Cross-posted at LFR.