ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on October 9th, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Itaewon King Club Brawl Trial Ends with Mistrial

What an absolute mess this CID investigation of the King Club brawl in Itaewon has turned into:

The court-martial of a military policeman accused of participating in a street brawl ended last week in a rare mistrial after six key witness statements made in the hours after the melee were discovered by attorneys. The missing statements, made to military police at U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan on Feb. 1, were the initial recorded statements from witnesses to the early-morning fight in front of Itaewon’s popular King Club, attorneys said during the court-martial.

One soldier was stabbed in the chest and another was severely beaten in the incident. Defense attorneys said the newly surfaced statements could pave the way for the five soldiers previously convicted of participating in the fight to appeal their sentences. Attorneys didn’t learn that the statements existed until Wednesday, near the end of the court-martial for Joyner’s identical twin, Spc. Markelle Joyner, who was charged with assault and making a false official statement.

Prosecutors realized that they were missing the statements during a court recess, as they questioned one witness about a second witness who might have perjured himself during testimony. CID then turned over the six statements within hours.

It’s unclear what happened to the statements after they were made to MPs and when they were given to CID. Government prosecutors said in court that they never received them, despite requesting case files from CID and visiting CID headquarters multiple times in the eight months since the fight.

“There are a lot of things that fall through the cracks over there [at CID],” said Michael Waddington, who represented Sgt. Markease Joyner, convicted Monday for hitting the two soldiers injured during the fight.

CID spokesman Christopher Grey said the statements made at the MP station were always part of the case file. Attorneys for the prosecution and defense had full access to the case file, and “we cannot explain why they were unaware of those statements.”  [Stars & Stripes]

Read the rest of the article at the link, but as the article states it was either intentional or incompetence that the CID didn’t hand over all the sworn statements to the defense.  I often hear that CID doesn’t bother investigating blatant blackmarketing going on in Korea because they have more important things to do like investigate cases like this, and yet one guy accused of the attempted murder was found not guilty, this case had a mistrial, and the other guys convicted may be able to appeal their light sentences. 

Readers may remember that this brawl is what led to General Walter Sharp implementing the mandatory weekend training to address indiscipline issues within the ranks on the peninsula.

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  • JoeC
    2:40 pm on October 10th, 2009 1

    Now you know why it's recommended that anyone up on serious charges in the military get a civilian attorney.

    Now you know why almost no one held at GITMO had been successfully prosecuted.

    Many of the people working in the military justice system are not exactly what you would call professional.

    Recommendation to General Sharp:

    Require all members of Yongsan area JAG and CID staffs to 5 consecutive weekends of 8 hours marathon viewing of the last 4 seasons of the Law and Order television series.


    Refresher for relearning the basics of criminal case manager procedure.

    There would be a pass or fail test on the 6th week, so pay attention.

  • gotrback
    8:52 pm on October 10th, 2009 2

    Before I gratuated law school I couldn't even spell attorney, now I are one.

  • AmericaninSeoul
    1:32 am on October 11th, 2009 3

    I would disagree about the folks working in MJ not being professional. I would say that SOME do not care, BUT there are SOME CID agents who are truly incompetent. I don't think this is the case…

    I wouldn't doubt that in the mad fury to get this case to trial that the prosecution "overlooked" the statements. I am sure they were under a lot of pressure to get things rolling and that doesn't mean they are unprofessional, just rushed.

    I mean if you know anything about the normal MJ system things do NOT go to trial this quickly!! This was a super high profile case that only just happened in, what, Feb? There have already been trial's and convictions? Not unheard of, but super-duper rare. Usually, both the prosecution and the defense take their time to get their ducks in a row. I've seen cases go to trial up to 2-3 years AFTER the crime!! I know we have a right to a speedy trial, but, geez, in this case it was just sloppy.

  • michael
    7:25 am on October 11th, 2009 4

    I worked with the military justice system in USFK for 18 months. The JAG office there was completely professional, and JoeC, your comment is way off base. If CID needs a refresher course in what they need to disclose, thats on them. I think everyone can benefit from having a L&O marathon. I think you need to get some common sense.

    Why on earth should everyone get a civilian attorney? What did the defense counsel do wrong here? Do you have a clue what you are writing?

    8:40 am on October 11th, 2009 5

    Way to go Michael! Thats telling him or her. Take that JoeC. Military attorneys rock and the JAG office on the rock rocks too.

    Completelee professionel is what I'd be talking bout.

  • JoeC
    1:45 pm on October 11th, 2009 6

    I attempted to qualify my comments. I didn't say "everyone get a civilian attorney." I said, "anyone up on serious charges in the military get a civilian attorney." I also said "[MANY] of the people working in the military justice system are not exactly what you would call professional." AmericaninSeoul says, "SOME do not care, … SOME CID agents who are truly incompetent."

    I admit my views may be skewed as someone from the outside looking in. The nature of public reporting is we tend to more often learn about the aberrations than the norms. I can believe that majority of military justice cases are handled professionally and successfully. But, from direct and indirect observations, I also believe there are a number of bad actors and shenanigans in the system.

    I also admit that some of my insider information may also be skewed because most of it comes from defense attorneys or from defendants in the system. The reason I say get a civilian attorney when in serious trouble is because I've heard that said as an unofficial recommendation from actual military defense attorneys.

    Consider that both the military judges and prosecutors belong to the JAG commands and defense council belong to a separate command. I understand the purpose is to prevent the appearance of influence that may occur if they were in the same commands, but some defense councils believe they are the outsider stepchildren of the justice system compared to the more recognized and influential JAG. Because of this, as far as career progression, more UCMJ experienced lawyers prefer to gravitate to prosecution than stay in the defense field.

    Experience is another issue. Lawyers aren't all trained equally and there are many fields of practice in law. You wouldn't hire an attorney with 5 years of family practice and 1 year of criminal law cases to defend to you on murder charges? That could be the case in the military. You don't have much say in choosing your military lawyer. It's kind of like getting a public defender.

    Most civilian lawyers that defend military people were former military lawyers. They not only understand the system, they can anticipate many of the prosecution's maneuvers. They can also do things military defense lawyers cannot do to help their clients, such as speaking out publicly and drawing unwelcome attention to the military.

    As far as the investigation and prosecution side, I've heard of several high profile cases brought to trial over the years that fall apart embarrassingly in court. Or the cases that get a lot of attention only to be dropped of dismissed at the last minute without any explanation.

    Not wanting to disclose national security secrets, or not wanting to implicate a senior official or the service itself? Tell me there is no command influence. Tell me there is not a separate system of justice for O-6s and above than for those down below.

    I suspect that when the history of GITMO is written, it will be another serious stain on the practices of SOME in the military legal system. Though some heroes on both the defense and prosecution sides have already come out and revealed some of it.

    I know. They were all just terrorists anyway. "The worst of the worst." They don't deserve due process. Disregarding the fact that over two thirds had been released with no charges ever filed. You might say that's a whole separate issue. Well maybe. But we learned there were multiple instances of the prosecution withholding evidence and documents from the defense. Sounds familiar? Maybe even just the tip of the iceberg. And remember, many of those people who learned tricks at GITMO are probably back with their services serving justice to military people.

  • Wallstreet
    12:20 pm on October 14th, 2009 7

    Blackmarketing??? Really? That's not even CID's jo. Things like that are worked by the Military Police Investigations (MPI).

    As far as what did the defense attorneys do wrong, Michael? Absolutely nothing. They did a great job. They knew all along of the statements made to the MP's. They also knew that the prosecution had no idea. It was a perfect setup to get a mistrial. There were so many people involved in this case, all with different prosecutors and defense attorneys. What one lawyer may need to prove or disprove his case, is not the same simply because they were involved in the same incident. The lawyers review all the information collected by CID and determine what THEY need. The decision of what documents goes to court is not up to any law enforcement agent. If the prosecution failed to emit certain documents into court, than that's on them.

  • Lemmy
    12:38 pm on October 14th, 2009 8

    It is physically difficult to read your writing.

  • Wallstreet
    3:07 pm on October 14th, 2009 9

    Yes I know. One typo makes the whole comment look like a disaster. How uneducated and ignorant of me to type so fast I miss a letter. Sorry for the inconvenience, Lemmy.

  • Soldier of Fortune
    8:01 pm on November 7th, 2009 10

    JoeC. I could not disagree with your comments about civilian counsel more. If you look at the history of the "King's Club incident" the main suspect that was charged with the stabbing (attempted murder) was found Not Guilty of all charges. Guess what, his attorneys were both military lawyers from Korea. In my book, attempted murder is a "serious crime." If he had taken your advice, he might be 25k poorer, convicted of attempted murder and spending the next twenty years in jail. His military attorney obviously knew what he was doing and did one hell of a job for him – he was found not guilty of everything.

    As for the military attorney in the mistrial, he also obviously did an outstanding job as well, winning the motion for a mistrial. You see a pattern here?


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