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January 18, 2013

Marine judge advocate wins promotion do-over

Former #Marine #judge advocate Michael Mori has won a second shot at the promotion he says he was unfairly denied, in an extraordinary turn to an extraordinary career.

At one point, military authorities gained access to Mori's personnel records while he was serving as a trial judge, discovered his wife was 17 years old when they married and then used this information to force him off a case. And that weird twist, which is soon going to captivate a top military appeals court and has been well covered by the military law blog CAAFlog, doesn't even have anything to do with the dispute ruled upon Friday.

The ruling Friday centers around work Mori did for former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks.

In a 13-page decision Friday, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ordered the Navy to convene a Special Selection Board that will examine Mori's case for promotion from lieutenant colonel to colonel. Put simply, Mori  believes his zealous defense of Hicks, an Australian accused of supporting terrorism, cost him promotions through the Marine Corps.

Mori is now retired from the service. In his complaint, he argues the Marine Corps' promotion selection boards were stacked with officers biased against him. The Navy rejected his multiple requests for reconsideration by a Special Selection Board.

In the Friday ruling, Judge Leon called the Navy's decision-making "arbitrary and capricious."

"It is not the substance of the plaintiff's request that creates an issue here," Leon wrote. "Rather, it is the Secretary's inadequate explanation of the process by which he reached his decision."

Mori, meanwhile, is in the middle of a separate case to be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. This separate case involves allegations of unlawful command influence; check this out from one of the briefs; the military judge being discussed is Mori:

"After losing a motion to define a minor--for purposes of child pornography--as eighteen-years-old, the Government sought recusal of the military judge. The Government’s basis for recusal was that, ten years prior to the court-martial, the military judge married a woman when she was seventeen. It gleaned this information from page 3270 of the military judge’s personnel record, which it accessed without his knowledge. The Government then called the circuit military judge to tell him about his subordinate’s ruling, the idea that the military judge was biased, and the imminent challenge for cause."





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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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