Navy Officer Gallagher avoided nearly all charges in his war crimes case, which was complicated by prosecutorial tampering. Although the prosecution’s unusual attempts to spy on the defense was not directly cited in the ruling, it still carries implications for future similar cases.
GALLAGHER CONCLUDES WITH ONLY ONE CONVICTION
Edward Gallagher of the U.S. Navy was accused of war crimes after slaying a captured Islamic State prisoner. The case against him was complicated, however, when it was discovered that the prosecution had attempted to spy on the defense through “bugged” emails that tracked internal communications. In reaction to the apparent prosecutorial tampering, Gallagher’s defense counsel asked for the overseeing military judge to dismiss the charges, but the judge opted to replace the prosecutor instead.
The lead prosecutor, Mr. Czaplak, tried to protect his reputation by stating the “bug” – which was a logo of a bald eagle with the American flag – would only tell them when the messages were opened. The decision to remove him from the case was bolstered, though, by the fact that the warrantless digital searches targeted not military service members, but instead were mostly sent to military defense attorneys. Even the editor of the popular NavyTimes newsgroup was sent one of the emails from the prosecutors and joining NCIS investigators.
The damage done by the failed spyware attempt seemed to be irreversible. Gallagher was acquitted of all charges, save for one instance of “wrongfully posing for an unofficial picture with a human casualty.” He was sentenced to a minor rank reduction, four-month pay forfeiture, and a maximum four-month confinement, which was already served pretrial.
The military judge did not explicitly mention that the prosecution’s tampering with the case led to the acquittals and the case’s conclusion. Yet, it is highly likely the ability to confidently convict Gallagher of all charges became significantly jeopardized due to the “bugged” emails. Putting too much pressure or focus on the case ran a risk of the defense calling for a mistrial, which could have resulted in Gallagher walking with all charges dismissed. It is possible the conclusion that was reached is actually an unofficial “plea deal” between the defense and the prosecution. The takeaway for future cases being that defense counsels need to pay close attention to prosecutorial methods, for they present unique opportunities to gain a powerful advantage in an ongoing case.
TRUSTED REPRESENTATION FOR SERVICE MEMBERS IN ALL BRANCHES
Attorney Joseph Jordan is a recognized name in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, as one of the nation’s leading military criminal defense attorneys. He is capable of taking on any and all cases, including war crime accusations such as those brought against Gallagher. When your reputation and military career is on the line, do not trust any other military criminal defense team to put in the work your case needs to succeed. Come to Attorney Joseph L. Jordan first. Call (866) 624-7503 now.