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Old 05-07-2009, 08:34 AM
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Lightbulb Update On LtCol Chessani Case

May 05, 2009

Government Decides Not to Appeal Further in LtCol Chessani Case; Decision to Re-Charge Still Pending

ANN ARBOR, MI – A government official has informed the Thomas More Law Center that the government will not seek to appeal the recent unanimous decision by the Navy Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) in favor of LtCol Jeffrey Chessani, USMC.

The decision makes permanent the ruling by the trial court judge, Colonel Steven A. Folsom, USMC, dismissing the charges against LtCol Chessani – without prejudice – due to Unlawful Command Influence. The government could have sought an appeal to the civilian Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces (CAAF), and then to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Because Col Folsom’s dismissal of charges was made without prejudice, the government could still seek to re-charge LtCol Chessani.

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, along with detailed military attorneys LtCol Jon Shelburne, USMC, and Capt Jeffrey King, USMC, have represented LtCol Chessani throughout the criminal process.

In order for the government to start the process of recharging LtCol Chessani, the Commandant – General James Conway, USMC – would have to appoint a new convening authority (the rank of General) that was not precluded by Col Folsom’s ruling, which was based on Unlawful Command Influence.

Col Folsom precluded the commands of the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), Marine Forces Central Command (MARCENT), and General James Mattis, USMC in particular. Whoever is named the new convening authority (the new General) would have to make an independent decision on whether or not to bring new charges against LtCol Chessani. If the General did desire to bring charges, LtCol Chessani would be subject to a new Article 32 Hearing.

On March 17, 2009, the 3-judge panel of NMCCA unanimously vindicated the ruling by Colonel Steven A. Folsom, USMC, dismissing all charges against LtCol Chessani on the grounds of Unlawful Command Influence. LtCol Chessani is the senior-most officer criminally charged as a result of the much-publicized and ill-described “Haditha massacre.”

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented, “LtCol Chessani devoted over 20 years of his life to his country and the Corps he loved. His reward: criminal prosecution and ridicule by the mainstream media. Sadly, insurgents, with the complicity of the media, were able to remove one of our most effective combat commanders in Iraq by unfounded allegations of a ‘massacre.’ The immeasurable damage to America by the prosecution of this loyal and patriotic marine officer can never be rectified. Nevertheless the decision not to engage in any further appeals is welcome news. We hope that the Commandant will now say ‘enough is enough’ and allow LtCol Chessani, his wife, and six children get on with their lives.”

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life. It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America. The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization. You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at

Thomas Jefferson, Kentucky Resolutions of 1798: "In questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
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