One of our 3L student interns who is also an Army veteran made the trek up I-295 today to watch the latest hearing in the strange case of LTC Terrence Lakin, the Army doctor who refused to obey various orders related to a deployment to Afghanistan.
At today’s court-martial session, the defense and trial counsel argued a number of motions. The defense first argued that the military judge should abate the court-martial until the Army Court of Criminal Appeals rules on a writ petition the defense inexplicably (“for reasons I can’t get into right now,” according to a defense counsel) filed just yesterday, in response to the military judge’s ruling on September 2. The defense also attempted to convince the military judge that several prospective witnesses who were the subject of prosecution motions in limine were relevant to the defense case. These witnesses included former presidential candidate Alan Keyes and a retired Air Force general. The defense sought to qualify these gentlemen as experts in the areas of constitutional history and military training regarding the chain of command and obedience to orders, respectively.
The trial counsel argued that bringing evidence of motivation for refusal to follow the orders was irrelevant and should be excluded, citing a previous anthrax shot refusal case in which the military judge did just that. (I’m not sure which case it was, but the case of another military doctor–Air Force Captain John Buck–comes to mind.)
The military judge responded by determining that the orders (Specifications 1-3 of Charge II) given LTC Lakin were lawful. She continued by taking judicial notice of an Army regulation regarding orders and ruling that the witnesses who were the subject of the government motion in limine were precluded from testifying as experts, although they could end up testifying in sentencing if the case proceeds that far. Furthermore, the military judge granted the prosecution motions to prevent the defense from raising irrelevant issues regarding President Obama’s eligibility to serve as the commander-in-chief and LTC Lakin’s motivation for disobeying the deployment orders during the findings phase of the trial. Again, the motivation might become relevant in sentencing.
Hearing this, the civilian defense counsel remarked that this gutted the defense case, and he had to put on some sort of defense. Apparently, LTC Lakin is chomping at the bit to testify in his own defense, so that might be the sum total of the defense case after today’s rulings.
The court-martial is set to resume at Ft. Meade on November 4. Stay tuned for more on this saga.
h/t to Charlie Fowler, CAAFlog, and Phil Cave for today’s reporting and the previous commentary on this case.