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Lawyers ask federal judge to overturn Marine's war court contempt conviction

MiamiHerald / Lawyers for a Marine general who was found guilty of contempt of the war court and confined to his trailer park quarters are asking a federal judge to cancel the conviction.

On Nov. 1, the military judge in the USS Cole case sentenced Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker to 21 days of confinement for disobeying orders. Baker, the chief defense counsel for military commissions, invoked a privilege and refused to testify before the judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath. He also refused to rescind a decision permitting some civilian attorneys to quit the case.

Baker served just two days of the sentence and didn’t pay the $1,000 fine. Although a senior Pentagon official, Harvey Rishikof, upheld the contempt finding, he suspended the sentence.

In their 33-page filing at U.S. District Court at Washington, D.C., Baker’s lawyers argue that the contempt conviction could earn Baker a bad performance review, which could lead to a cascading series of career-damaging or career-ending consequences: demotion, loss of his position as the attorney in charge of defense military commissions defense teams, and retirement as a colonel, not a general.

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