U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga has dismissed DWI cases against five Marines arrested for driving under the influence on Quantico. Trenga stated that the marines were fooled into waiving their right to a court-martial.
In each instance, as a result of this decision the Marines opened themselves to a double punishment: administrative military sanctions as well as a criminal conviction in civilian court.
The constitution bars being tried twice for the same crime, precluding both a court-martial and civilian prospect for the same infraction.
The Marine base at Quantico had made a decision to pursue both military and civilian prosecutions when possible as a part of a “get tough” policy against DWI charges. This situation is only possible when a Marine waives his or her right to a court martial and agrees to a “nonjudicial” punishment.
The judges ruling asserts that the Marines’ military attorneys did not do an adequate job of expressing the pros and cons of waiving the right to a court martial (these military attorneys do not have a lawyer/client relationship with the Marines they advised).
Trenga termed these consultations perfunctory and inadequate. As a result, according to defense attorneys, Marines frequently accepted non-judicial punishment without a full sense of the consequences.
Officials at Quantico announced last week that they are changing their policies in light of the judge’s ruling.