Marines Arrested During Formation Ruled Unlawful by Military Judge

 In Military

Sixteen Marines arrested during the morning formation in July at Camp Pendleton have a new ruling calling those arrests into question. All 16 of the Marines were hauled out of the formation and accused of human smuggling in front of 800 members of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. The ruling by Col Stephen Keane stated that such a mass arrest in front of the battalion was unlawful and violated their rights.

Defense attorneys alleged that the arrests were an unlawful exercise of command over the human smuggling case. They were happy about the Marine Judge’s ruling, though it is unclear what will happen to the charges against the men. Three of the Marines charged were dismissed previously.

“It sends a signal to the government, I’m not going to tolerate, and we should not tolerate, a command basically imposing the verdict before the court is ever held…The public humiliation of my client and others in the case was wrong. It was illegal and the Marine Corps’ attempt to try to influence the outcome of this case and poison the jury pool.” Bethany Payton-O’Brien, Defense Attorney

According to the San Diego Union Tribune,

“[Lt. Col. Eric] Olson, Dorsey and the lead NCIS agent on the case, Katelyn Thompson, all testified that the arrests were done in front of the formation to preserve evidence and ensure safety, because some Marines were suspected of weapons offenses.

However the Judge, Marine Col. Stephen Keane, rejected that argument, saying that if there was a concern about weapons being involved, then inviting 800 Marines to witness the arrests did not suggest safety.

Public affairs officers from the 1st Marine Division also testified about comments they made to the news media after the July arrests and about the decision to capture the arrests on video.”

One commander was said to refer to the men as a “cancer” in the unit after the men were arrested.

Judge Keane told prosecutors they have one week to come up with a remedy for the egregious violation of the men’s rights.  The cases could be dismissed if they do not comply with the Judge’s order.

Featured photo: screenshot of the arrest via US Marine Corps


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Showing 7 comments
  • Nicholas lopez

    Cammander egoay have got involved or just wanted to make an example to create fear. To risk violating not sure I was always under impression guilty until proven innocent in military. Is a stain on our Corps

    • Johnny/John Redwine

      I agree with you completely. The arrest could have been made anytime. Why humiliate the men and disrupt the Marines at work ?

  • Todd Hart

    the judge was in on the trafficking.

    • JP

      How can you say this should not been done in public! Think about what they are doing to these women and children who are being abused physically and mentally and are not even able to come back into society because of the deep scars that they receive being trafficked! I say have a public hearing and do everything public and maybe these people will stop abusing our children!

  • Ben Cates

    If you arrest in barracks, word spreads quickly, giving men time to hide or destroy evidence.

    If you arrest in barracks, NCIS and ICE agents risk fights and weapons that could be hidden in rooms.

    Arrest in formation guarantees surprise, uniformity of equipment. Guarantees few or no hidden weapons present. Allows men to be separated from peers by pressure of existing command structure without suspecting criminal arrest process.

    I think this made perfect sense and the judge is a fool.

  • Robert Chalmers, Jr

    I saw something very similar in the early 80’s, when I was in the Army, stationed in West Germany: We had been in Grafenwehr for a major artillery exercise, (what the Army calls an ARTEP), and a couple of months after we returned they announced that all the units on our little base were having an awards ceremony, and 100 percent attendance was required.
    When my battalion was formed up the Command Sergeant Major started calling out names, and had them form a new platoon– There was about 50 people in that new formation when the battalion commander stepped up to the microphone, and started reading them their rights under UCMJ!!
    It turned out that there had been a couple of CID agents in the battalion, and the other units, working undercover to find out who was dealing, and who was using drugs.
    After the MP’S had arrested those soldiers, we had to stand fast until they called your barracks room number, where they physically searched everything, AND had dogs sniffing around. THAT resulted in another dozen or so people getting busted, too. Many of them were chaptered out with none of them receiving anything higher than a Less Than Honorable discharge.
    Plus, in addition to THAT, every single person on base, INCLUDING ALL OF THE OFFICERS, had to take a piss test. THAT ended up getting another dozen or so, including three lieutenants, a couple of captains, and a major. They also searched the family quarters, and busted some more people. In THOSE cases, the families were sent home, at their OWN EXPENSE, and the soldiers were moved into the barracks, and THEY also got Article 15’s.

  • Alfonso

    I don’t see anything wrong with this. Humiliation should have been thought about before doing the act. I do not know if these Marines are guilty or not. But from my experience in the military when you have something this big not to be many mistakes are made and if the person does get off its not because they did not know about what was going on or involved but they got lucky. I do not think it changed anyone minds in that formation. If you thought they were stand up you will still think that if not you just say to your self that you thought they were suspect to begin with. I will tell you that most of them have already stories about them. I don’t think someones morale compass just goes tits up one morning and you wake up and say I am going to do some illegal shit today. And lastly, no one standing in that formation will be siting on court martial.

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