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U.S. v. E-6

September 30, 2020

JAX Naval Station

September 2020. In 2018, we were retained to represent an E-6 in the United States Navy. Our client was accused of negligent homicide, manslaughter, obstruction of justice, damage to government property, conspiracy, DUI with bodily harm, and an array of Article 92 violations. The Government alleged that our client was accused of killing a Djiboutian National while operating a government vehicle at Camp Lemmonier.

According to the charges, our client had lost control of his vehicle while intoxicated, and this negligent action led to the death of the Djiboutian National who was on his way to work. The NCIS investigation was over 4,000 pages long, and our defense investigator interviewed dozens and dozens of witnesses. Over 30 motions were filed in this case and it was covered by the Navy Times and Military Times.

Our argument was that there was no evidence to suggest that our client caused the accident. In fact, the one reliable eyewitness was going to testify that the deceased was driving his scouter in my client’s lane and struck my client. This would mean that my client was not guilty of negligent homicide or manslaughter. We requested an accident reconstruction expert to help us further understand what happened in the case. Our expert reviewed hundreds of photographs, FARO scans, and the entire investigation file. Our expert also concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that our client caused the accident.

To make matters worse, NCIS did not properly secure the vehicle that my client was driving or the deceased’s motor scooter. The vehicle my client was driving was destroyed and the scooter was left outside and was damaged from exposure. Our accident investigator was denied the opportunity to inspect the two most important pieces of evidence. We filed a motion to dismiss charges based on this egregious error committed by NCIS, but ultimately the military judge ruled that the FARO scans served as an adequate substitute for the actual vehicles. A decision that we disagreed with but understood.

Finally, after three years of litigation, dozens of motions, witness interviews, and hard fights with government counsel, the homicide, manslaughter, and obstruction of justice charges were dropped. This was a tremendous team effort and is the result of a lot of grit, hard work, and determination. This is one I will remember for the remainder of my career.

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