Chessani's Haditha case dismissal stands


A military appeals court has refused to reconsider its decision upholding the dismissal of charges against Camp Pendleton's Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, who is accused of dereliction of duty for not ordering a full-scale investigation into the slaying of two dozen Iraqi civilians in 2005.

The U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals in Washington rejected a request from the Marine Corps to reconsider its March decision upholding a military judge's ruling that unlawful command influence irreparably tainted the government's case against Chessani.

"I think it speaks volumes how they just stamped the request 'Denied' without any comment at all," said Chessani's attorney Brian Rooney.


Rooney said he anticipates the Marine Corps will appeal because the ruling may affect the prosecution of Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who is charged with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter in the killings that occurred in the city of Haditha.

Chessani's charges were ordered dismissed last year by Col. Steven Folsom. That ruling found that a legal adviser to then-Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who was overseeing all the Haditha prosecutions, should not have had any role in the case.

The Marine Corps should go ahead and dismiss the Wuterich cases too. There is only a very remote chance that further appeals will change the decision to dismiss the case. The cases have always had the taint of command influence which was evident from the Murtha comments about the case. Officials have sought to avoid that aspect of the case by focusing on other elements of command influence.


  1. You are correct about any appeal changing the ruling to dismiss the case. The problem is, however, the dismissal was without prejudice, so the charges can be brought again.


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