Ladies and Gentlemen, I present:
The Case of the Unstoppable Airman
My latest case was prosecuting a Reservist who was activated so he could learn how to be a great fuel cell maintainer. Unfortunately, he learned that he could take advantage of the trust that's inherent in the Air Force and go AWOL multiple times, lie to people, violate lawful orders, use his Government credit card to rack up hundreds of dollars in charges, and steal his co-workers' credit and debit cards to do the same.
This case was crazy because the man couldn't be stopped. Like seriously. He would go AWOL, get caught, apologize, and go AWOL a few days later. His unit tried everything to stop him from telling him to stop all the way to putting him into confinement before trial. (Note to civilians: we don't just toss people in jail before their trials - we have to keep them with their unit unless they really really really need to go into confinement.)
At his court-martial, he pled guilty to everything, which is to say, 18 different crimes. EIGHTEEN that he racked up in just two months. Crazy. So after pleading guilty to everything, I put one of the people whose card he stole on the stand to tell us what it was like to have his card stolen and his trust violated. Then, defense counsel and I argued to the judge as to why various sentences were/were not appropriate.
After a short deliberation, the judge decided that the man (a 22-year old Airman Basic - the lowest rank in the AF) should get a reprimand, forfeit money, spend 5 more months in prison, and be discharged from the Air Force with a Bad Conduct Discharge. That last one is pretty harsh. Deserved in this case, but every time the kid applies for a job, he's supposed to put down that he left he Air Force and not under honorable conditions. That affects a lot of future job prospects, which is a hard thing to swallow, even for me, and I asked for that sentence.
I learned a lot in this court - this is the first one that I've done from the beginning, so I learned a lot about what paperwork goes into a trial. Here's a clue: a lot of fucking paperwork. I also learned that I need to stop being afraid (not so much afraid as not knowing when it's appropriate) to object when the defense counsel steps out of bounds and says something they aren't supposed to. I also learned that my maternity service dress, when properly altered, looks pretty good and is WAY more comfortable than my regular service dress.
So, that's it for this case, now it's on to the next!