- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2017

The nation’s highest military court on Monday sided with a decorated Navy SEAL and ordered an investigation into whether top Navy admiral lawyers at the Pentagon illegally interfered in his case to assure a conviction.

“In order to resolve this allegation of unlawful command influence, we conclude that further fact-finding must be conducted,” said the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. “The petition for reconsideration is granted.”

In a slap at the Navy, the court ruled that the presiding officer over a fact-finding hearing “shall be a military judge from an armed force other than the United States Navy or the United States Marine Corps.”

The order comes in the case of Senior Chief Petty Officer Keith E. Barry. He was convicted of sexual assault in 2014. But last month, the admiral who oversaw his case swore in an affidavit that two three-star admirals pressured him to uphold the conviction when he was about to overturn the trial judge.

The appeals court ruled that the presiding officer will return the fact-finding record directly to the court, not to the Navy chain of command, no later than Nov. 1.

“This military judge shall inquire fully and make findings of fact and conclusions of law related to the alleged unlawful command influence matter underlying the granted issue,” the court said.

“A war hero has been wrongly convicted because of the Navy’s top lawyer’s unlawful actions,” said David Shelton, Chief Barry’s civilian lawyer. “The time is now for justice.”

The court denied the defense’s request for a special master to investigate.

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