Save Our Heroes’ Project Files State Bar Complaint and Notifies Senate Armed Services Committee re Unlawful Command Influence of Navy Judge Advocate General, Admiral James Crawford
In October of 2017, Save Our Heroes Project filed an official complaint with the North Carolina State Bar Association regarding the actions of the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Navy, Vice Admiral James Crawford.
On May 1, 2018 and after months of no action, SOH submitted a letter of concern to the Senate Armed Services Committee and requested that the committee compel a court martial of Admiral Crawford.
This stems from the sexual assault conviction of Navy SEAL, Chief Petty Officer Keith Barry in 2015. Since that time, this case has garnered intense media scrutiny and on October 24, 2017, a military judge ruled that Admiral Crawford was guilty of violating Article 37 of the UCMJ, Unlawful Command Influence in Barry’s case.
For those not familiar with this case, please refer to the links below as it has been extensively covered in the Washington Times and the San Diego Union Tribune to name a few.
In short, Chief Barry was convicted of sexual assault after he broke off a short-term relationship with a woman, that also involved a torrid sexual affair. Once the woman came to the realization that the short-term relationship was over, she claimed to have been raped by Barry.
After he was convicted, Barry submitted a clemency petition to the then convening authority at the time, Rear Admiral Patrick Lorge. Lorge felt that Barry was innocent and considered granting clemency until he was pressured by Crawford to deny the petition.
Barry was subsequently incarcerated and has now been released. Lorge later had a change of conscience and submitted an affidavit that he had been pressured by Crawford to deny the clemency. When the affidavit by Lorge became known, Chief Barry’s Washington D.C. attorney, was quoted in the San Diego Union Tribune;
“This affidavit removes any doubt that the very top leaders in the Navy (Judge Advocate General’s office) committed unlawful command influence, it confirms that not only is there smoke, there is a conflagration burning out of control.” … “It is, without question, time for the conviction of Senior Chief Barry to be overturned and for the judge advocate general of the Navy to resign. Admiral Crawford’s actions are devastating to the fairness of the military justice system. They undermine the most basic tenets of military justice and demonstrate a complete disregard for Senior Chief Barry’s rights.”
This sparked a post-conviction hearing in which a military judge ruled that Crawford had engaged in Unlawful Command Influence. Consequently, the misconduct of Crawford and the ruling has generated intense commentary from many legal professionals, and one of those comments has been provided;
“… the system is rife with Nifongian prosecutions, but nobody wants to stick their neck out because nobody wants that target on their back…..”
Chief Barry was incarcerated and has had his entire life turned around and is still in the appellate process trying to get his conviction overturned.
As such, SOH took the opportunity to file an official complaint with the North Carolina State Bar, the state in which Crawford is licensed, for a violation of the professional rules of conduct, and is provided here.
SOH was soon notified that the North Carolina State Bar received our complaint and assigned a case number.
There has been some back and forth correspondence between SOH and the North Carolina State Bar, however nothing of substance has occurred, or that we are aware of in sanctioning Admiral Crawford. Just last month, the San Diego Union Tribune reported that Admiral Crawford may have exerted UCI in another case involving Navy SEALS. Is this a pattern and practice that is service wide?
Prosecutorial misconduct is a staggering problem, not only in the military but in society in general. One of the most egregious cases involved the Duke Lacrosse scandal in 2006, which has spawned books and documentaries highlighting the criminal misconduct of then District Attorney Mike Nifong.
Despite Nifong’s railroading of the three lacrosse players and criminal acts, he spent only one day in jail and was disbarred. The three men who were his victims expended millions in legal fees and had their personal reputations destroyed. Fortunately, the men were cleared, and the charges were dropped.
With the number of cases that SOH has received, many of which there is evidence of official misconduct, and the fact that SOH has filed a number of complaints, there has been virtually no sanctions imposed upon rouge prosecutors.
As such, SOH has taken the bold step of writing the Senate Armed Services Committee, noting that there is virtually no accountability at the highest levels of the Navy Judge Advocate General Corps, to compel the appropriate military authority to initiate court martial proceedings against Admiral Crawford.
As our letter indicates, if any sanction is imposed and Crawford decides to retire, then per the UCMJ, he would only be able to retire in the last rank satisfactorily served, meaning he would have to retired as a one-star, rather than a three-star and lose tens of thousands a year in retirement benefits. That however would be a drop in the bucket compared to the injustices that Chief Barry has suffered.
As the plethora of articles reveal and expose, there is a general consensus, which is no secret, that any convening authority who does not prefer a sexual assault case to court martial WILL draw the wrath of some in the legislature and special interest groups, even in cases that are absent of facts and evidence. Any CA who does not prefer a case of sexual assault to court martial will all have his decision reviewed by JAG leadership, the branch secretary and will get the attention of the Senate Armed Services Committee who have the authority to hold up promotions and assignments.
Folks, we are at a crossroads today like never before involving allegations of sexual misconduct. While sexual harassment and assault occur, the military and society in general are in a state of abject hysteria. Today, a simple unfounded and unverified allegation going back 20 or 30 years can immediately render an individual jobless, homeless and penniless. Some have resorted to suicide.
SOH has said this from it’s inception in that we must restore due process and constitutional protections, and exercise common sense back into this equation rather than resorting to mob justice and the hysterical shrills of some in the legislature and special interest groups.
There must also be accountability of those in the military legal profession and those responsible for decision making as well as those who falsely accuse. There are many good and ethical legal professionals in the military, but the sheer volume of examples such as this would make any reasonable person wonder if any still exist.
False accusers must also be held accountable, and we need to reform the processes that make it financially advantageous to falsely accuse with virtually no sanctions when a fraud has been exposed.
This is not rocket science folks and it can be fixed, but if we continue to allow the pitch fork and torch carrying mobs dictate the outcome, then we have become nothing more than a third world banana republic.
Please refer to the links provided and feel free to download our letters. If anyone has experienced Unlawful Command Influence, remember that you still enjoy the right of Free Speech. Use it and write your local representatives as well as the Senate Armed Services Committee. When committee members begin to realize that their constituents, in increasing numbers want military justice reform, and they are not doing it, then perhaps that will be reflective at election time.
We will see what kind of response we get back from the committee, if anything at all and will keep our readers informed.