Fitzpatrick – The right to confront your accuser

In the Cox 2001 report, Walt shows that he does not really understand the legal concept of ‘the right to confront your accuser:

Lastly this: I was denied the right to confront my accusers in court. Neither Bitoff nor Zeller testified.

He has shown the same failings in later court encounters, not understand that it is the prosecutor who brings the charges, just like LT Zeller brought the charges against him. Bitoff never was a formal accuser, he served the role as the Convening Authority, who preferred the charges to a Special Court Martial.

There is no right to confront the Convening Authority or even the accuser. LT Zeller collected all the evidence, and testimony and witnesses and prepared a list of charges with which Fitzpatrick would be confronted. To ensure impartiality, Bitoff actually convened an Article 32 hearing, where the evidence against Fitzpatrick would be gather by an investigating officer (IO).

The IO’s recommendation was an Article 15 Non Judicial Proceeding (NJP), however Walt decided to refuse an Article 15, basically forcing the Commander’s hand to forward the issue to a court martial. Still, rather than sending it to a more serious court martial, the General Court Martial, he referred the charges to a Special Court Martial, once again doing Fitzpatrick a favor.

Sure, you get to face ‘your accuser’ in court which means that you get to challenge witnesses, testimony and evidence brought forward.

Read for example the 6th Amendment

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Walt continues to confuse the roles that LT Zeller and RADM Bitoff played and while he has raised the issue several times, independent investigations continued to find that his claims about LT Zeller and RADM Bitoff did not hold up under closer scrutiny.