I am the lead counsel in US v. Warner. I am a military lawyer and nothing in this blog is meant to be construed as developing an attorney-client relationship between me and you. If you want me to be your lawyer, contact either –www.jamesphillipslaw.com and www.ucmjlawyer.com. Also, this update is written with the permission of my client SSG Mitch Warner. He has consented to waive any attorney-client privilege to help clear his name.
For anyone who has read my blog on SSG Warner, you will know that I believe in SSG Warner as both a soldier and a citizen. Over the time I have defended him in this Court-Martial, I have come to respect him as a person and as a combat veteran. He deserves better than he is getting from the US Army.
Mitch Warner was convicted of several offenses and is currently beginning to serve his 17 month sentence. He was convicted of the maltreatment of a suspected Al Queada member who may have been linked to the death of several members of SSG Warner’s platoon. At trial, Ali Mansur, the Iraqi detainee that was ultimately killed, was made out by the government to be a humble citizen of Iraq who was unfairly treated by our US Soldiers. There is evidence that this is just not true. One of the reasons that this entire tragic event took place, which resulted in the killing of Ali Mansur by 1LT Behenna, was that Ali Mansur was suspected in participating in the killing of American Soldiers near COB Speicher. 5th Platoon, the platoon the both 1LT Behenna and SSG Warner, were assigned to, took significant casualties just a few weeks prior to the May 16, 2008 death of Ali Mansur. Mr. Mansur was picked up by 5th Platoon and was detaineed as part of the investigation of those deaths. For a reason unknown to the defense team, Ali Mansur was order to be released from custody and was to be returned to his home by 5th Platoon. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to know this was probably not a good decision on the part of the chain of command.
For SSG Warner, these facts do not change the outcome of his trial. He now must begin to ask for both clemency and to appeal his sentence. In the Army, the appeals process is two-fold, (1) the convicted Soldier may appeal to the convening authority, and (2) after that, they may appeal to a higher level court.
The first part of the process is termed as 1105 and 1106 matters. Essentially, this will allow the defense team to submit additional matters in mitigation to the “convening authority.” In the military, a military judge makes a determination as to the appropriate sentence in every judge alone case. After the verdict is read, it still must be approved by the convening authority. In this case, the Commander of the 101st Airborne Division (AASLT) may take action on the case and has the option of lowering the sentence. It is his discretion based on matters submitted by the defense and a recommendation submitted by the Staff Judge Advocate of the Post.
In Mitch Warner’s case, we will ask the convening authority to lower the sentence. SSG Warner has distinguished himself as a soldier and in this case, based on the nature of the offenses, SSG Warner should not serve any additional time in confinement. SSG Warner has an impeccable service record, to include Air Assault instructor, three tours in Iraq, numerous firefights and heroic actions in combat. In addition, he has spent the past months defending himself against a charge of premeditated murder that he was not guilty of.
If the sentence, as approved by the convening authority, includes death, a bad-conduct discharge, a dishonorable discharge, dismissal of an officer, or significant confinement, the case is reviewed by the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. In this case, both the type of discharge and the amount of confinement warrant an appeal. Although SSG Warner would be afforded a military lawyer for his appellate defense, we would like for him to be represented by a team of civilian lawyers. If you want to help with this endeavor and participate in the ongoing legal defense of SSG Warner, you may donate money to the Phillips Law, PLLC Trust Account. Call our office at (931) 552-5679 for instructions on how to get involved in this case. Get the word out to everyone you know. This is a soldier that we should not forget and the more the better.