“Justice” at West Point

How many issues can one article possibly present?

I’ve always described the court-martial process as a meat grinder for the accused. In this case, James Taranto does a great job of distilling the story of a West Point cadet accused of sexual assault. Acquitted of the more serious charges, found guilty of making a false official statement, and kicked-out of the academy on this basis.

The most important lesson from this former Cadet’s saga: waive nothing.


4 thoughts on ““Justice” at West Point

  1. Actually, Taranto doesn’t do a that great a job- he doesn’t mention that the cadet would most certainly have faced an honor board for lying. He would have most likely been dismissed. Even though there were extenuating circumstances, the cadet honor system is very strict, and he would have been gone for that. Realize that the UCMJ (military criminal justice system) and the cadet honor system are totally different- apples and oranges. The real question is why did this to go a court-martial- when it should have gone to an honor board.

    • True. He would have probably faced an honor board, but that board would come with its own due process. I interpreted the point of the article to be how disastrous the pursuit of weak sexual assault allegations can be on an individual and how conscious we need to be of the second and third-order effects.

      Why did it go to court-martial? It went to court-martial for the same reason that many other cases of alleged sexual assault in the military are going to trial even if they have shaky or just plain bad evidence. Political pressure. Cases that were previously weeded-out by JAGs are now going to trial in order to show that the military is tough on any allegation of sexual assault.

      • I went to USNA and have a son that is a recent USMA grad. He was very dubious about the WSJ story- too much left out and many questions were left hanging- if you know West Point and military justice and culture.
        . These cases are he-said/she-said and with drinking there are memory problems. They are tough to try- I was also a judge advocate, so I know from experience. You can’t have a perfect case. Sometimes you have to go to court with what you have.

        There is just too much that Taranto either omits (intentionally or unintenionally) or slants. Look at the way he portrayted the investigator- of course he prepared questions beforehand in light of the accusor’s statement- he would have been incompetent otherwise. He appears to have an agenda and is using this story to push it– that everything is fine and that the Administration (i.e., Dems, the President) are wrecking the military through PC and hypersensitivity. I have seen him do this before. The military and West Point have serious sexual assault and harrassment problems. Period. Full stop, In fact, the military- I hate to say- is not that tough on sexual harassment and assault. Cases like this- and I reiterate that we don’t know the full story- make it sound like they are caving into political pressure.
        You mention the honor board has its own due process- true, it and the UCMJ are apples and oranges. But my son noted that he had seen cadets dismissed for far less than what Cadet Cromartie did. Again, too much omitted in the story for me to say this was a case of UCI.

      • “…if you know West Point and military justice and culture.”

        I’ve had some people tell me that I know a bit about West Point and military justice and culture, but they were probably just overly impressed by the fact that I thumbed-through the first few pages of Atkinson’s The Long Gray Line and thoroughly enjoyed the realistic tone of “A Few Good Men.” My friends are easily impressed by such things. Period. Full stop. (A simple “.” wasn’t enough?)

        While I don’t think anyone is “caving into political pressure,” I do think that decisions to investigate and prosecute weak allegations of sexual assault are influenced by the current fear of being the next command/installation to face nationwide scorn and criticism for refusing to prosecute the same.

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