Written by: Paul Levine; Watch Now: – Sorry, not available on Amazon
The JAG, Chegwidden (C), assigned Mac (M) and Bud (B) to prosecute, and Turner (T) to defend, Lt Cdr David Ridley who killed three and wounded three British Troops in “friendly fire.” Harm (H) was appointed Judge to both M and Ts surprise and questioning of his “objectivity.” Harm told M that he wouldn’t do any “pay back” for when M was on the bench but that didn’t seem to be very assuring to M. He asked for Coates (Co) as his trial clerk who read books about judges being “most effective when they are invisible” and that “asking a lawyer to be a judge was like asking a boxer to be a referee.” When H seemed to take umbrage, T pointed out that there were “hunters who killed saber-toothed tigers with sticks and stones while there were others back at the cave who were not so courageous but wise and fair.” Harm asked if they were afraid that he wouldn’t “divvy up the meat fairly.” Coates told him that he was a “natural born killer.” Harm kept claiming he was going to be impartial and fair; however, he was anything but. During Ms opening statement he stopped her then corrected her then let T editorialize to his hearts content and overruled Ms objection. When the SECNAV came in to observe the proceedings H called them to the front and admonished M regarding favoritism.
Ridley and Lt Cdr Barry, his wingman, were coming back to the coral sea from a long mission, requiring 5 refueling’s, when they saw ground tracer fire. He requested permission from AWACs to use his machine guns but they told him to “hold.” Instead he descended ostensibly to “take a mark” and saw some “green fire” so he dropped a laser-guided bomb just as AWACs radioed that they were “friendlies.” The only thing T could come up with as a defense was the combined use of stimulants and depressants making him “paranoid and jittery” even though they were commonly prescribed by the flight surgeon. The SECNAV questioned Cs appointment of an aviator as a judge and tap danced trying to influence for a conviction without being seen as undue influence. He commended M and B on their first day and commented on the level of hostility. Mac suggested to him that if he wanted to help he should “not sit on my side of the trial.” Mac called Lt Kaufman from the AWACs plane, T deferred his cross so H began asking questions which seemed to favor the defense and overruled Ms objections. She told him that “if I’m going to loose this case I’d like to do it without any help from the bench” and asked him to “recuse himself on grounds of bias.” The SECNAV stopped his car and talked to H who had to threaten him with unlawful command influence. Chegwidden refused to remove H from the case so M wanted to resign from it. Chegwidden wouldn’t accept that either.
Turner pressed the point of mixing “go and no-go pills” with the flight surgeon and asked for him to make a conclusion. Mac objected. Harm sustained the objection then did Ts job for him. Turner editorialized and baited the doctor but H overruled Ms objection. Then B objected to something and H sustained it so M began letting B do the objecting and cross examining. Harm debriefed with Coates (Co) and figured out what had happened but couldn’t tell anyone. Coates discovered in her research that “judges must refrain from helping any party that assists their case.” So he gave exculpatory evidence to M and B, who were prosecuting so it wouldn’t help their case, knowing of their integrity. Just as H expected, M and B did then give the electro-magnetic resonance report from the AWACs to T who realized that it had been the generator, that the soldiers were trying to fix, which had sparked – and Ridley had mistaken it for gunfire. Ridley was found “not-guilty” but H went ahead and found his piloting behavior to be inappropriate and ordered a Field Evaluation Board to consider his future as an aviator in combat. The SECNAV told H that is first assignment to the bench was… “distinctive.” Chegwidden wanted a volunteer for a couple of months as a judge and H told him to “count me out.” He said that he was more of a “hunter” and when C looked puzzled said “the type to hit saber-toothed tigers with a stick.” So Chegwidden appointed M as temporary judge.