Court reporter's backlog slows final decision in Osan shakedown case
January 6, 2006
The following correction to this story was posted Jan. 6: "A Jan. 6 story about the post-trial stage of Air Force 1st Lt. Jason D. Davis’ court-martial at Osan Air Base in South Korea should have said that the trial judge wasn’t sent the record of trial until about three months after Davis’ sentencing."
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Lawyers for the Air Force officer convicted in an Osan Air Base bar district shakedown scandal in September say final steps in the case have met with post-trial delay.
Arguing that the delay poses a legal hindrance to their client, 1st Lt. Jason D. Davis, they’ve asked the Air Force to reduce his prison sentence. Until his arrest in March, Davis headed the 51st Security Forces Squadron’s police team patrolling the bar district outside Osan Air Base.
Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Dillow, Pacific circuit military judge, sentenced Davis on Sept. 21 to dismissal from the Air Force and two years in prison. Davis now is in the Charleston Naval Brig in Charleston, S.C.
But final post-trial action is still pending because the official trial records — including a transcript of legal proceedings and trial exhibits — have yet to be given to Air Force Lt. Gen. Garry R. Trexler.
Under military law, the three-star general must decide whether to amend Davis’ sentence or let it stand. But military legal procedure requires that before the trial record can be given to Trexler, it first must be given to Dillow. If he, as the military judge, certifies it’s accurate and complete, then the 7th Air Force staff judge advocate reviews it and recommends in writing what final action should be taken.
Both record and recommendation then would be sent to Davis and his lawyers, who have 10 days to review it and take any further actions, including raising objections or asking clemency.
The 7th Air Force staff judge advocate’s office then “takes the entire case up to” Trexler for action, said Lt. Col. J. Steven Meador, staff judge advocate for Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing.
Meador said the trial judge wasn’t sent the case record until some two months after Davis’ sentencing because the court reporter, busy with other cases, hadn’t provided the transcript earlier.
Meador said the 51st Fighter Wing legal office sent the trial record express mail to Dillow at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., where he was presiding over a case, “right before Christmas.”
On Dec. 22, defense lawyers formally asked Trexler to use his authority to speed the process, said Davis defense lawyer Capt. Elizabeth M.D. Pullin, circuit defense counsel.
The defense also has asked Trexler to reduce Davis’ sentence by one month for each month he spends in jail past his parole eligibility date, which was in October, Pullin said, adding that the defense has yet to receive a response.
She said the delay can hurt Davis in at least two ways: He cannot appeal until Trexler decides and the lack of a final decision from Trexler could weaken Davis’ chance of gaining parole.
Meador denied the case had been delayed unduly, saying the time needed to ready a trial transcript depends also on how much was spoken during the trial. “The longer the trial the longer the transcription time,” he said.
Meador also disagreed that the delay could harm Davis legally. “He is serving confinement based on the sentence adjudged by the court,” the staff judge advocate said. “He has time to consult with his counsel and prepare for his clemency” request.
Davis pleaded guilty Sept. 20 to conduct unbecoming an officer, activities prejudicial to good order and discipline or that were discrediting to the service, violating orders and making a false officials statement.
Pullin said the defense will ask Trexler for clemency.
Davis had been confined at the U.S. military’s jail at Camp Humphreys in South Korea since his March arrest but was transferred to Charleston in early November.