Why alleged Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl doesn't want a jury trial
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has decided to be tried by a judge — not a military jury — on charges that he endangered comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan.
Bergdahl’s lawyers told the court in a brief filing last week that their client chose trial by judge alone, rather than a panel of officers. He faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy at his trial scheduled for late October at Fort Bragg. The latter carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Defense attorneys declined to comment on the decision. But they previously questioned whether Bergdahl could get a fair trial by jury because of negative comments President Donald Trump made on the campaign trail.
Earlier this year the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance rejected a defense request to dismiss the case over Trump’s criticism of Bergdahl.
Potential jurors had already received a questionnaire including questions about their commander in chief, but defense attorneys weren’t allowed to ask jurors if they voted for Trump.
Rachel VanLandingham, a former Air Force lawyer not involved in the case, said defense attorneys likely felt limited in how they could probe juror opinions.
“They lost their ability to ask all the questions they wanted to ask, one of those being: ‘Did you vote for President Trump?’” said VanLandingham, who teaches at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. “They felt that was very important … for fleshing out whether a panel member could be fair.”
Beyond concerns about jurors, she said Nance has so far demonstrated his objectivity.
“His pretrial rulings have shown that he’s fair,” she said.
Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban shortly after he left his remote post in 2009. The soldier from Idaho has said he intended to cause alarm and draw attention to what he saw as problems with his unit.
He was freed from captivity in 2014 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners. Former President Barack Obama was criticized by Republicans who claimed the trade jeopardized the nation’s security.
Bergdahl has been assigned to desk duty at a Texas Army base pending the outcome of his case.
The 13 funniest memes for the week of Sept. 22
Kim Jong Un has an H-Bomb. These good ol' fashioned military memes will make your last few moments less excruciating. Memes are proven to cool hydrogen burns.
How Taco Bell influenced a rapper to become a Marine
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with The Marine Rapper a.k.a. TMR about how he went from wrapping tacos to rapping music lyrics.
These are the best military photos for the week of September 23
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week.
The US just sent 2,200 of these Fort Bragg paratroopers to Afghanistan
Approximately 2,200 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers began quietly deploying this month, part of a long-discussed troop surge to Afghanistan.
The Marines just took a look at this Civil War battlefield to learn military lessons for the future
The battle, which involved 18,456 mounted troops and was the largest cavalry clash in North America, also remains largely unknown by today's students of military history.
The Air Force is finally getting with the program and planning for urban fights
Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein has added urban warfare to his list of top focus areas, predicting that much of the world will live in megacities.
How we found out it's not so easy to fly a Reaper drone
Let's just say computer flight simulator games don't provide enough experience to make a good landing.
Here's what the Marines of 'Full Metal Jacket' are doing today
The Marines killed the enemy together, laughed together, and shared a Da Nang hooker together. But what happened to them after the war? You're about to find out.
Army ditches search for 7.62 battle rifle — for now
Less than two months after the Army issued a request from industry to provide up to 50,000 7.62 battle rifles, sources say the service has pulled the plug on the program.
THE MIGHTY SURVEY GIVE-AWAY
We want to hear your thoughts. Complete our survey for a chance to win 1 of 5 gaming consoles