Gallagher Case – Prosecutor Removed
Experts say that removal of the lead prosecutor in the Gallagher Case just days before the trial is unprecedented. Cmdr. Christopher Czaplak was dumped from the case on Monday by Captain Aaron Rugh, the trial judge, according to the Navy Times.
Czaplak was removed after he admitted sending tracking software to 13 defense attorneys and paralegals, a well as Navy Times Editor, Carl Prine. Although the judge said it wasn’t within his jurisdiction to determine if the actions were prosecutorial misconduct, the threat of an investigation into his actions could “create a conflict of interest” in the Gallagher case.
“While it is not within the purview of this court to conclude whether actions of trial counsel violated the rules of professional responsibility, the court must determine whether the fear of, or potential danger of, a professional responsibility complaint and follow-up investigation, is sufficient to create such a conflict. Conceding that this area remains both nuanced and unresolved under the ethical rules, still the court concludes that the danger of investigation is sufficiently real that any trial counsel so situated might be motivated by factors unrelated to his position as trial counsel.” Trial judge Captain Rugh
The assistant prosecutor, Marine Captain Conor McMahon was also removed from the case by the Marine Corps last week. The “fate” of the third prosecutor, Navy Lt Brian John, was not listed.
The actions may delay the Gallagher case from June 10. Captain Rugh was to make a determination of the defense motion for dismissal by the end of Wednesday, June 5.
“Czaplak’s decision to track defense attorneys’ emails was contrary to legal ethics and common sense… Unprecedented is too tame a description for what he did. Unwise is overly optimistic … His conduct has been entirely inappropriate.” Gary Solis, former USMC prosecutor and trial judge to Military.com
The unethical actions of the prosecution in the Gallagher case, and the fact that they refused to allow exculpatory evidence should be enough to dismiss this case. The video given to Rep Hunter that revealed Gallagher using medical training to try and save the life he is accused of taking should have resulted in immediate dismissal. A judge has to “think about it” after that?
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