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Court Decides if Military Tribunal is Considered a Court of Jurisdiction


This matter involves H.B. and L.C as the Judge of the Jefferson County Court as the respondents. The appellant in the case is J.K. as the Jefferson County District Attorney. The other case involves the respondents L.B. and L.C. as the Judge of the Jefferson County Court and J.K. as the Jefferson County District Attorney as the appellant.

The District Attorney of Jefferson County is appealing two cases. He is seeking to overturn the grant of writs of prohibition that prevent his office from prosecuting serious crimes that were committed by two solders on military property. The soldiers were off duty at the time.

The petitioner soldiers were tried and convicted by a general court martial for identical conduct that they were indicted for in Jefferson County. The issue in each of the cases is whether a military tribunal is considered a court with any jurisdiction in the United States. If a military tribunal is considered a court with jurisdiction than the double jeopardy protection laws of the state of New York would bar the successive prosecution of the issues in these cases.

Case Background

A New York Criminal Lawyer said on August of 1991, petitioner Sergeant B. was charged by the United States Army for the crime of rape, carnal knowledge, sodomy (sex crimes), and violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and giving alcoholic beverages to a minor. The victim of these crimes was Booth’s niece who was thirteen years old.

The incident in question took place on the 6th of July, 1991 in the Village of Carthage, New York. Booth waived his trial by military jury. A trial by military judge took place on the 12th of January, the 30th of January, and the 10th of March, 1992. Booth was convicted of indecent assault and sentenced to confinement at hard labor for two years at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was reduced in rank and discharged from the service on a bad conduct discharge. He was ordered to forfeit his pay as well.

In December of 1991, Booth was indicted on the charge of rape in the first degree by the Jefferson County Grand Jury. Other charges in the indictment included sodomy in the first degree, sexual abuse in the first degree, and endangering the welfare of a child. These charges were related to the same conduct that he had been tried for by the military court judge.

The second case involves petitioner Bridgewater who is a former sergeant in the U.S. Army. He was indicted on murder charges by the Jefferson County Grand Jury. A Long Island Criminal Lawyer said a military tribunal was held in his case as well and he pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to a year in prison.

Court Discussion and Decision

Both of these cases involve heinous crimes and both the petitioners have been tried and sentenced by a military court. The charges from the Jefferson County courts have been dropped as ordered by a previous court. The District Attorney is appealing these rulings and asking for permission to go on with the indictments.

After reviewing the case, both the defendants have already been tried for their crimes. Allowing the Jefferson County Courts to prosecute them as well would be a violation of the double jeopardy protection and for this reason the court denies the motion by the District Attorney.

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