CAAF reviewing whether a Commander felt pressured into approving findings of guilty when he wanted to disapprove them.
Recently, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) has agreed to review a Navy case called United States v. Barry. In this case, Senior Chief Barry was found guilty of sexual assault. Following his court-martial, Rear Admiral Patrick Lorge approved the findings of guilty as the convening authority. Senior Chief Barry appealed the case and the findings of guilty were affirmed by both the Navy-Marine Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) and CAAF. However, after Rear Admiral Lorge retired, he wrote an affidavit specific to Barry’s case. In his affidavit, Rear Admiral Lorge stated that he actually wanted to disapprove the findings in this case, but was talked out of it by his Staff Judge Advocate (SJA). He stated that his SJA told him that it would not be a good move for his career or the Navy to disapprove findings of guilty in a sexual assault case. Sexual assault in the military is a big topic of discussion in the political arena and therefore, it is possible that the SJA warned Rear Admiral Lorge that his disapproval might attract negative political attention to the Navy. It is impressive that after retirement, he wrote this affidavit explaining that he really wanted to disapprove the findings in Barry’s case. Based on the affidavit, CAAF has decided to review the case. They have been listening to testimony from the Rear Admiral Lorge as well as the SJA in question. It will be interesting to see what happens in Barry’s case. This case goes to show that there are many different bases of appeal. Some of them have to do with the evidence presented in a court-martial, but sometimes a valid appeal may exist in something that did not even occur in the courtroom. If you or your loved one is facing a court-martial or wants to appeal one, you need a strong advocate by your side with experience. You need someone who knows what to look for. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.