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DE GUZMAN, ROXANNE TRIXIE DURANO

2012-0027

SEPT. 9, 2016
EVIDENCE

FILM ANALYSIS: A FEW GOOD MEN


A Few Good Men is a courtroom drama with Marines as characters. Two soldiers stationed
at the Naval base in Guantanamo, Bay, Cuba, named Lance Corporal Dawson and Private Downey
are accused of murder. The two U.S. Army Marines have pleaded innocent as the other cadet was
murdered, but they claim they have been ordered to haze him. Their superior officer has given
another story so it is time to go to court. Lt. Daniel Kaffee and Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway are
assigned to be their lawyers. Lt. Daniel as a lawyer is known for plea bargaining settling cases out
of court and thus he has never been inside a courtroom. While Lt. Cmdr. Joanne doesnt believe
Dawson and Downey came up with the idea to kill William Santiago; she has suspicions that they
were following orders.
The defendants claim that PFC Santiago, the victim, was given a CODE RED. Code Red
is a disciplinary action that exists only among Marines stationed at Guantanamo Bay. In Code Reds,
soldiers are physically punished for misconduct. These disciplinary actions are strictly off the
record, and illegal. William Santiago wanted to leave Gitmo because clearly based on how many
times he messed up this was not his calling. Col. Nathan Jessup would not let him leave though. He
was committed at all costs to make Santiago into a good marine so that he could defend the nation.
Col. Jessup ordered two marines (the defendants) to gag Santiago and shave his hair as a
punishment for being a bad marine. Santiago ended up accidentally dying from suffocating on the
rag used to gag him.
During the course of the hearing, it is sufficiently proved that Code Red is an unofficial
disciplinary action conducted at Gitmo. So Col. Jessup says he ordered it. In the confrontation
between Lt. Kaffee and Col. Jessup leading up to the iconic dialogue Lt. Kaffee: Did you order the
CODE RED? Col. Jessup: YOU GODDAMN RIGHT I DID! Col. Jessup froth about the rigid
chain of command within the Armed Forces with We follow orders or PEOPLE DIE. That a
Marine officer will not and cannot ignore his superiors orders under any circumstances.
In the movie, the court takes this bit of information and combines it with Code Red
confession in order to prosecute Jessup. The Code Red practice is confirmed by many witnesses,
but this rigid chain of command is not proved or endorsed by anybody other than Jessup. So it
must stand as his interpretation that a superior officers orders will never be ignored and will always
be followed and not a fact and therefore not a self-admittance or confession.
What got me is how Jessup got arrested. Confession and arrest is not the same as conviction.
What would normally take place is with the new evidence, an investigation would take place and if
the evidence would charges being pressed, he would then possibly be arrested, but he would surely
get released until the trial.
The two defendants are acquitted from the murder and conspiracy charges, but are
dishonorably discharged from the Marines for conduct unbefitting a Marine. Since it was proven
that there was no intent to harm PFC Santiago, only to train, I doubt they would have received that
discharge classification. Also, they went on trial for murder, so any defense attorney worth his salt
could easily get a retrial based on the new evidence and prove they were following orders they
believed beyond a shadow of a doubt were intact lawful orders and keep their careers. After all,
Santiagos death was freak accident, not intentional.

Off the top of my head, where I see problems in the movie A Few Good Men includes:
(1) Use of evidence that would never be admitted (for any number of reasons).
(2) Inappropriate questions by the lawyers.
(3) Inappropriate investigatory techniques by the lawyer. (lawyers cannot do certain things that
police can do)
(4) Violation of ethical rules in terms of conduct by the lawyers in myriad ways.
(5) Confessions on the witness stand by the real criminal.
(6) The speed of things. There are myriad delays.
(7) Availability of evidence. Criminal lawyers call it the CSI effect.
(8) Witness misconduct.