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 influence]."
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.