If you’ve been following White Collar Alert’s recent coverage of the rare court-martial faced by U.S. Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, then you know that members of Montgomery McCracken’s Government Investigations and White Collar Crime practice group (and fellow White Collar Alert contributors) are serving as the lead defense team in the case and were working with prosecutors last week to negotiate a plea agreement after the military judge found evidence of unlawful command influence.
Yesterday, the military judge accepted a plea deal that allowed Sinclair to admit to lesser charges in exchange for the dismissal of the most serious charges of sexual assault. In reporting on the plea deal, The New York Times on Sunday noted: “The deal caps the surprisingly rapid and, for the military, embarrassing collapse of what once seemed a powerful case — an unraveling that began after Army prosecutors concluded that their chief witness, the captain, who had been the general’s lover for three years, might have lied under oath at a pretrial hearing in January.”
And in another New York Times’ article, the editorial board – looking at the recent events in this case – comments that ours is truly a “broken military justice system.” Noting that “the prosecution might have been improperly influenced by political considerations,” the article states that “[t]he episode offers a textbook example of justice gone awry, providing yet another reason to overhaul the existing military justice system.” There is currently activity in the Senate proposing to do just that.
Today in Fort Bragg, the sentencing phase of the trial, which began yesterday afternoon, continues. As CNN reports, the government has already “agreed to a ‘quantum’—essentially a maximum-penalty cap.” This quantum will not be revealed to the military judge, who will hand down his own, independent sentence. Ultimately, General Sinclair will face the lesser of the quantum or the penalty prescribed by the judge.