An Interesting Sinclair Possibility

Usually, a Dishonorable Discharge (or Dismissal for officers) is reserved for the most severe of crimes–murder, rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, and the like.

Now, I’m just brainstorming out loud, but… The judge could, in lieu of a reprimand, forfeiture of pay, and/or confinement, simply award a dismissal.

In order to impose this, he’d need to decide as follows:

1. Sinclair’s crimes warrant the attachment of significant stigma. After all, the primary purpose of a punitive discharge/dismissal is to stigmatize a person.

2. Sinclair’s behavior makes him unworthy of further benefits (VA, retirement, or otherwise). His crimes outweigh the good aspects of his prior service.

3. General deterrence is the most important sentencing factor.

4. He is incapable/unworthy of rehabilitation.

I do think this is a longshot, but, if the government pushes the case for how this case can/should be a wakeup call for all senior leaders, it certainly is plausible.

I had a prior case where a court-martial panel (jury) determined that, while jail would not do anything for the Army or my client, his actions deserved nothing more than what a Bad-Conduct Discharge would allow. So, it wouldn’t be completely absurd to see a sentence of only a dismissal.

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5 thoughts on “An Interesting Sinclair Possibility

  1. I’d argue GEN Ward and COL Johnson’s actions were more egregious and neither got a dismissal (http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/06/20/u-s-col-johnson-guilty-fraud-bigamy-iraqi-wife/; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/william-ward_n_2122379.html).

    Now that 120 is off the table, if COL Pohl gave a dismissal there would again be cries of “UCI” and “Congressional pressure made him do it.”

    Granted, GEN Ward’s reduction was administrative, and COL Johnson braved a panel of COLs so there is always a chance … but it still seems unlikely.

    • I agree with you and all points. I just thought it would be a unique way to end this saga, especially considering that the prosecution seems to have some extremely salacious evidence in aggravation. Having said that, I agree that this is probably not a good time for the MJ to get cutesy with the sentence.

      Your comparison with GEN Ward is especially noted. In many ways, he is to the Army what Bernie Madoff is to the financial industry. I’ve always been a bit surprised how little attention Ward’s case received.

      • I should add that I predict no one will be happy with the result no matter what happens (if he gets a dismissal it’s UCI, if he doesn’t the system is broken or it’s reverse UCI (he didn’t give the dismissal because he didn’t want to look like UCI was present)).

      • Everyone will be happy. The sentence in this case is one that will bring everyone together in harmony–victim advocates, prosecutors, defense counsel, accused service members, senators, and members of congress. All will rejoice with the renewed sense of trust in our military and government and bask in the light of a united view on justice.

        How’s that sound?

      • Indeed. Now I see it. That’s beauty of our justice system – its ability to really bring people together.

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