Court martial trial begins with guilty pleas and ends with convictions
PHOENIX – On Dec. 6, a group of 30 led by Jeff Lichter of Surprise, rallied in front of Sen. John McCain, Sen. Jon Kyl and Rep. Trent Franks’ offices to protest the court martial of and show their support for Lt. Col. Terrance “Terry” Lakin
While most of the group remained outside with signs supporting Lakin, Lichter, accompanied by videographer Ed Vallejo and five members of the group, entered McCain’s office where they spoke with staffer Barb Donaldson, whom Lichter said listened to them and promised to relay what they had to say to McCain.
Vallejo’s video can be seen here on YouTube.
The same group made the short trip over to Kyl’s office on Camelback Road afterward and this time a group of 10 entered the office, where they were allowed nearly a half hour to speak to staffers Andrew Wilder and Adam Bean, who took notes to relay to Kyl.
The group explained their displeasure with Army Judge Denise Lind disallowing Lakin to stage his own defense and raised the constitutional issue of being a natural born citizen. Kyl’s office did not allow Vallejo to video their meeting.
According to Lichter, the best meeting of the day was at Franks’ office, where they met with District Office Manager Daniel Hay and Liaison to Franks Shari Farrington.
Lichter said they were told efforts were already underway by staff at Franks’ Washington, D.C. office to “try to stop the court martial” and Franks could be issuing a press release on the subject soon.
However, on Dec. 14, in Fort Mead, Md., in a courtroom filled with family and supporters, Lakin pled guilty to four counts of disobeying orders on the first day of his trial, with one count dismissed as redundant at the request of his Attorney Neal Puckett.
Judge Denise Lind immediately convicted Lakin once he pled guilty to the charges, a normal process in military court.
Lakin, an Army flight surgeon with an 18-year exemplary record, made the soul-searching decision to disobey orders, knowing he would be inviting his own court martial, believes the questions surrounding Obama’s constitutional eligibility still need to be answered.
Puckett, who took over as defense counsel after Lakin was denied any discovery regarding Obama’s eligibility as a defense, says Lind ruled correctly.
In explaining that the military justice system is really more of a disciplinary system, Puckett, a retired Marine Corps Col., stated the military must maintain strict order at all times, even under a change in leadership. And, he said, the orders to deploy came from Lakin’s superiors, not from President Obama.
Although Puckett said, had he been Lakin’s counsel at the onset, he would have advised his client to take a different approach to taking on the issue of Obama’s legitimacy rather than disobeying orders, he called Lakin’s decision a courageous act of civil disobedience.
Puckett also said those who support Lakin’s actions need to support him and his family after the court martial as well, stating Lakin took his oath to uphold the Constitution seriously enough to place his military career on the line for them.
Lakin believed this would be the only means to reveal the truth about Obama’s constitutional eligibility after all other efforts through his chain of command failed.
He said, “I was praying and soul searching. I believed there was a question that needs to be answered to ensure a valid chain of command. But I had asked every question, done everything else I could short of disobeying orders, without success.”
During opening arguments, Puckett stated Lakin was charged with missing the movement of US Airways flight 1123. However, he stated, nowhere in his orders, as corroborated during cross examination of each prosecution witness, did it say Lakin was required to take a flight to his destination and that the orders actually allowed Lakin to choose an alternate method of travel.
The court-martial panel deliberated this morning and convicted Lakin on the last count of “missing a movement,” to which Lakin pled not guilty.
Although many not familiar with the military justice system disagree with Puckett’s strategy, Lakin’s brother Greg said he agrees with directing the panel’s attention to the “missing movement” charge, a charge most closely linked to Obama’s authority in the chain of command because Lakin’s deployment was part of Obama’s surge strategy.
While Lakin may be facing penalties ranging from dismissal to 42 months in prison, his supporters say he will emerge a hero in any event.
Visit www.safeguardourconstitution.com to read updates about Lakin’s court martial and to make a donation.