Major Ray Slabbekorn, the senior
Marine Corps prosecutor who oversaw last month's raid on a Camp Pendleton defense firm, has
been court-ordered off of several cases and reassigned to a new position
with the Marines' complex trial team for the West Coast.
This reassignment came as a result of last week's ruling by military
judge Lt. Col. Chris Thielemann, who found that the unusual raid –
executed by Slabbekorn's office – constituted apparent unlawful
command influence, implying, in layman's terms, that the government
not only interfered with the legal process but disadvantaged defendants
as a result.
Now removed as trial counsel for Camp Pendleton, Slabbekorn will no longer
be prosecuting in the upcoming sexual assault trial of Sgt. Ricardo Miramontes.
Although unrelated to the cellphone at issue with the raid, Thielemann
held that Miramontes' case may have been tainted, as his case files
were stored at the now famous Camp Pendleton
defense firm. Thielemann reasoned that, despite the lack of evidence that the
raid affected Miramontes' case in particular, Slabbekorn's dismissal
was nonetheless necessary to remove "any taint of [unlawful command
In reasoning as much, Thielemann cited the prosecution's "extensive,
overly broad, and poorly executed search of unrelated defense counsel
offices" despite it being "clear to a reasonable observer that
the agents had seized the phone in question prior to entering the lead
defense counsel's office." Thielemann further described the raid
as "heavy-handed" and "overly intrusive", sure to
"further exacerbate concerns about the fairness of these proceedings."
Speaking through Camp Pendleton spokesman Jeffrey Nyhart, Slabbekorn maintained
he was forced out of the job after Theilemann had subjected him to various
restrictions and limitations that rendered it "impracticable"
for him to perform his duties.
Slabbekorn wasn't the only attorney whose career may be uprooted as
a result of the raid; Thielemann also admonished senior Marine defense
attorney Lietenant Colonel Clay Plummer, who publicly slammed the prosecution
for the "unacceptable" and "crazy" raid. Citing such
remarks, Thielemann recommended that a decision be made to determine whether
Plummer's choice of words amounted to "extra-tribunal statements."
Thielemann also recommended that a formal protocol be devised in the event
that future controversy of this nature arises, calling on a legal team
to enact such a plan.