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James Culp Memorandum

James Culp Memorandum

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Published by: rickanderson69 on Apr 02, 2012
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30 March 2012MEMORANDUM FOR Commander, Headquarters I Corps, Rear Provisional, JointBase Lewis-McChord WA, 98433SUBJECT: Request for Recusal of Staff Judge Advocate, United States v. SGT JohnRussell1. PURPOSE: The defense respectfully requests that COL Kurt A. Didier berecused from serving in the capacity of Staff Judge Advocate for all purposesrelating to the case of U.S. v. SGT John Russell. As explained below, recent factsdemonstrate that COL Didier does not possess the requisite even temperament orreflective judgment to properly advise the General Court Martial Convening Authority in a court-martial matter as significant as SGT Russell’s case.2. FACTS: On 21 February 2012, LTC Darrel Vandeveld submitted a formalrequest that an independent investigator and a mitigation specialist be appointed tothe defense in the case of U.S. v. SGT John Russell (See Enclosures 1 and 2). Therequest was transmitted via Government e-mail from LTC Vandeveld to your Staff Judge Advocate, COL Kurt A. Didier, for your consideration and action as theGeneral Court-Martial Convening Authority (See Enclosure 1). As of 28 March2012, no action had been taken concerning this request.3. On 24 February 2012, LTC Vandeveld submitted a formal request that futurerequests for consulting experts in the case of U.S. v. SGT John Russell be submittedto you
ex parte
for your review and action as the General Court-Martial Convening Authority (See Enclosures 3 and 4). The request was transmitted via Governmente-mail from LTC Vandeveld to your Staff Judge Advocate, COL Kurt A. Didier, foryour consideration and action as the General Court-Martial Convening Authority(See Enclosure 3). As of 28 March 2012, no action had been taken concerning thisrequest.4. On 28 February 2012, LTC Vandeveld submitted a formal request that SGTJohn Russell, currently confined at the Lewis-McChord Joint Regional ConfinementFacility, receive urgently required medical care (See Enclosures 5 and 6). Therequest was transmitted via Government e-mail from LTC Vandeveld to your Staff Judge Advocate, COL Kurt A. Didier, for your consideration and action as theGeneral Court-Martial Convening Authority (See Enclosure 5). As of 28 March2012, no action had been taken concerning this request.
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SUBJECT: Request for Recusal of Staff Judge Advocate, United States v. SGT JohnRussell
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5. On 29 February 2012, LTC Vandeveld submitted a formal request that thephysical evidence in the case of U.S. v. SGT John Russell, be transferred to JointBase Lewis McChord to facilitate its inspection and analysis by members of thedefense (See Enclosures 6 and 7). The request was transmitted by Government e-mail from LTC Vandeveld to your Staff Judge Advocate, COL Kurt A. Didier, foryour consideration and action as the General Court-Martial Convening Authority(See Enclosure 6). As of 28 March 2012, no formal action had been takenconcerning this request.6. At 0932 hours, 28 March 2012, CPT Daniel Mazzone, one of at least three TrialCounsel detailed to prosecute the case of U.S. v. SGT John Russell, contacted themembers of the SGT Russell’s defense team via Government e-mail (See Enclosure9). In his e-mail, CPT Mazzone related that he had read a news story published bythe Associated Press that stated: (1) the defense team in the case of U.S. v. SGTJohn Russell was gravely concerned for the health and welfare of SGT Russel who isconfined at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Confinement Facility; (2) a formalrequest for urgent medical care had been forwarded to the Government by thedefense on 28 February 2012; and (3) as of 27 March 2012, the Government hadfailed to act on the Defense request that SGT Russell receive urgent medical care.In his e-mail of 28 March 2012, CPT Mazzone stated “The OSJA has not seen a copyof the request sent by your team and I would request a copy so that we can facilitateaddressing any issues your team may be having” (See Enclosure 9).7. At 1102 hours, 28 March 2012, LTC Vandeveld replied to CPT Mazzone’scommunication, also via Government e-mail (See Enclosure 10). In his reply e-mail,LTC Vandeveld stated: Again, there seems to be some sort of miscommunication, which amazes mein a case as serious as this. Actually, with respect, it's appalling that theserequests have not been acted upon. I speak as an advocate for a seriouslymentally ill client charged with the gravest offenses in the UCMJ, and of course intend no disrespect at all. Some explanation seems to be both in orderand reasonable to expect, if for no other reason than to prevent similar delaysin the future. Again, I want to make it plain that I cast aspersions on no oneand approach this in a spirit of collegiality and cooperation, leavened by myrole as an advocate. We have literally dozens of witnesses who must beinterviewed, a social history that must be compiled, and we've lost over amonth at least in the diligent discharge of our duties because no action hasbeen taken on our requests, which are pertinent and should be granted nomatter how the case is referred. The charges are simply too serious (SeeEnclosure 10).
 
SUBJECT: Request for Recusal of Staff Judge Advocate, United States v. SGT JohnRussell
3
8. At approximately 1530 hours, 28 March 2012, COL Kurt A. Didier walked intoLTC Vandeveld’s office, accompanied by Mr. Earnest L. Lockett, a federal civilianemployee who manages the automation systems for as part of the G-6, I CorpsHeadquarters. Notwithstanding that LTC Vandeveld had numerous files openrelating to the case of U.S. v. SGT John Russell, COL Didier entered LTC Vandeveld’s office without knocking or announcing himself. COL Didier, appearingvisibly angry, stated:Darrel, you can have the SDC and the RDC in here if you like, but I'm givingyou a simple choice: the puzzling language you used in your message thismorning must be corrected. I never received your messages. Your choice isthis: either you send out an e-mail to the recipients of the message correctingthe language and stating that I did not receive the messages, or I will.9. COL Didier repeated the phrase "or I will" several times, giving it an ominousdimension clearly intended as a threat. LTC Vandeveld, remaining calm, replied byasking, "You're really taking this personally, aren't you?" COL Didier flatly andangrily replied, "Yes, I am. You are implying that I failed to act on submissions in atimely fashion. So you send out the message or I will."10. At that point LTC Vandeveld replied that he had been trying to determine theexact path that his e-mail messages had taken when they were individuallyforwarded to COL Didier. LTC Vandeveld then sat down at his computer, pulled upthe first e-mail message of 21 February 2012, and right-clicked on COL Didier'sabbreviated global name. When the Outlook dialogue box appeared, LTC Vandeveld clicked on "properties," which showed the exact e-mail addressassociated with the COL Didier’s name on the global contact list. The "Properties"entry showed that COL Didier had used his AKO address,kurt.didier@us.army.mil,as the address for messages sent or received by his I Corps Outlook profile, througha process known as "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol," or SMTP. At this point LTC Vandeveld looked at COL Didier and asked, “Sir, do you receive your AKO e-mail inyour local inbox?” COL Didier replied that he did.11. Mr. Lockett, appearing clearly uncomfortable, simply explained the differencebetween e-mail transmitted on an MS Exchange Server, which is what I Corps andthe Army uses, and which facilitates the direct transmission of messages, and theSMTP, which facilitates the transfer of messages. LTC Vandeveld then suggestedthat he send a test message using the address he had for COL Didier, to COLDidier’s e-mail in the same manner that he had earlier forwarded the defenserequests concerning SGT John Russell. LTC Vandeveld subsequently sent COLDidier a test e-mail. Mr. Lockett suggested that LTC Vandeveld send a 2d test e-mail, and LTC Vandeveld complied.

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