Our thanks to Bryn for this. Extracts:
The opinion, delivered by Judge Margaret A. Ryan, said the four admirals who played a role in assembling the officer and enlisted jury pool produced an illegal “gender-based court stacking.” She suggested that the admirals’ role amounted to unlawful command influence, which military law analysts see as the enemy of fair trials for service members.
The court ruling said the trial judge “failed to conduct even a rudimentary investigation” into defense attorneys’ complaints of an unfair jury.
It also said the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals failed in its duty to protect against unlawful command influence as it “rationalized the error away as a benign effort to seek inclusiveness.”…
The high court judges harshly criticized all involved, implying that their goal was to win a conviction.
“The salient facts paint a clear picture of court stacking based on gender in an atmosphere of external pressure to achieve specific results in sexual assault cases,” the ruling read. “Against that backdrop, purposefully selecting a panel that is seventy percent female, most of whom are victim advocates, from a roster of officers that was only twenty percent female and a pool of enlisted that was only thirteen percent female, smacks of a panel that was ‘hand-picked’ by or for the Government.”
The judges used the word “absurdity” in their assessment of assembling a jury pool of 70 percent women based on inclusiveness. “As a matter of common sense, 70 percent is not statistically or otherwise ‘representative,’” their ruling read.
Ten jurors were selected, and seven of them were women. Of those jurors, five women and two men heard evidence, deliberated and rendered a verdict. Of those five women, four were assigned as advocates for victims of sexual misconduct.