Military Justice ‘Ball’ Bounces In Many Different Directions

Help me out.  I’m having a difficult time reconciling Air Force decision-making with Army decision-making.  In short, it seems the “ball” that is military justice bounces in many different directions.

First, take a look at the excerpt below from a Stars and Stripes article about the Air Force decision-making process following one officer’s child-molestation conviction:

An officer convicted this summer of molesting a 10-year-old could still be kicked out of the military after avoiding a dismissal during sentencing.

Maj. Brandon Smith, 36, pleaded guilty to “assault consummated by battery with a minor” for licking the child’s buttocks while she slept and a slew of other charges including assault, drunk and disorderly conduct and conduct that discredits the armed forces. The charges stem from a night of partying in July 2007 in which Smith also attacked two junior enlisted airmen.

TDIA_Promo_Photo-300x224Next, consider what happened to Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart during three days in August 2009.

Despite a lack of both physical evidence and/or eyewitnesses to the crimes allegedly committed by Stewart against a German woman, it took only two days for the panel to find the highly-decorated combat veteran Green Beret guilty of numerous sex offenses and another day for them to sentence him to eight years behind bars.  And at no point, it seems, did Army officials debate whether or not Stewart would remain in uniform after serving out his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Though I have no insider information about the Air Force officer’s case, the content of the article leads me to believe his case is being handled badly on many levels.  Of course, he should not remain in uniform!

Conversely, the Army NCO should have never been convicted.  I explain why in my book, Three Days in August.  Based on extensive interviews and never-before-published details taken from Stewart’s actual Record of Trial, it paints a portrait of military justice gone awry that’s certain to make your blood boil.

Three Days In August is available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including

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