Unofficial vouching policy questions
Updated On: Nov 20 2012 01:04:50 AM CST
The unofficial policy of someone in uniform vouching for a military defendant in a civilian court is being questioned. The springboard case that got the legal community talking is the case of Specialist Reginald Young.
Young is a Fort Carson soldier accused of vehicle theft and escape. Last December, someone in uniform "vouched" for him in a civilian court. That person told the judge that Young would comply with military restrictions which included him staying on post. The next day, Young skipped Fort Carson and was caught in a women's restroom with the intent of raping a woman.
Essentially, military vouching for other military in civilian court does not mean anything to keep them on post. No one is watching them to make sure they comply.
Fourth Judicial District District Attorney, Dan May told me, "With the military in a couple of cases, the assumption was they are on base, they can lock them down on base and make sure they are in the headquarters and deliver them up in court." The District Attorney later learned there was no mechanism in place to make that happen, "The judges were surprised. We were surprised and the defense attorneys were surprised by what vouching meant."
I asked Fort Carson reps about using the power of someone's uniform to "vouch" for someone in a civilian court implying that someone would insure that the accused would stay on post. No one on post would go on camera with me about it. I did get this email response, "The answer to this question is not for this office to determine. This is a matter of law and public policy to be determined by the state of Colorado and its judiciary. All citizens in the United States have the ability to speak on behalf of a friend, colleague or relative. Soldiers are no different."
District Attorney Dan May that there are lessons learned about the Young case, "We learned a little bit of a lesson to be more cautious in the future and make sure we ask the right questions and then the judge can decide if they want to take a risk in the case and what size bond or conditions be put on to make sure this person will show up and abide by the conditions so we don't have public safety issues."
Chief District Judge Gilbert Martinez agrees, "You have to look at the totality of the circumstances. That's why I am leaving this up to each individual judge to make the determination as he or she sees fit."
Specialist Reginald Young was sentenced to 16 years to life in prison.
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