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Government Takes First Step to Overturn Judge’s
Dismissal of Charges Against LtCol Chessani

Press release from the Thomas More Law Center | July 9, 2008
Read the story  by Nat Helms at the link

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

ANN ARBOR, MI –   In Iraq, LtCol Jeffrey Chessani, one of America’s most effective combat commanders, led the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines — one of the Marine Corps’ most decorated units.  After devoting over 20 years of his life to the Corps, and three tours of duty in Iraq, he was criminally charged by government prosecutors for the combat action taken by four of his Marines who engaged insurgents in a fierce house-to-house, room-by-room battle, after being ambushed in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005.

On June 17, 2008 Military Judge, Col Steven Folsom, USMC, dismissed all charges against LtCol Chessani, on the grounds of unlawful command influence.
 
Attempting to revive their failed prosecution, Government prosecutors yesterday took the required second step in their appeal of the Judge’s ruling by filing the authenticated record of trial with the Navy and Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA).  The government now must file their appellate brief within twenty days — no later than July 29, 2008.

LtCol Chessani is represented by the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Once the government’s brief is filed, the Law Center has twenty days to respond.      
      
The Law Center intends to request oral argument in front of the NMCCA’s three-judge panel which consists of Navy and Marine officers.  The panel holds its hearings in Washington, DC.  The NMCCA can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months to render an opinion after oral arguments are heard.

The losing party has the right to request an appeal to the next level, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF), which is composed entirely of civilian judges. 

Moreover, if the government losses all of its appeals, it still has the option of re-filing the charges against LtCol Chessani.
 
“This is certainly a David versus Goliath battle, ” said Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, “but we will fight this unjust prosecution as long as it takes.”

LtCol Chessani has been under investigation and prosecution since March 2006 involving the November 19, 2005 battle of Haditha. 

The Thomas More Law Center fights in the courts to preserve America’s Christian heritage and moral values.  It defends and promotes the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life through litigation, education, and related activities.  It does not charge for its services.  The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)3 organization.  You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.

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