PHD #427: Formal Protest
Formal Protest
Summary: Madilyn and Mathers field a complaint.
Date: 29 Apr 2042 AE
Related Logs: Trying for Trials
Constin Madilyn Mathers 
Marine Offices - Deck 6
This offices consists of desks for those under the CO, along with his desk toward the back of the room. The S1 and S2 have desks here and the place is neat as a pin, with everything in its place. At the front of the room, a Marine sits at a desk to meet people as they come in through the hatch.
Post-Holocaust Day: #427

Constin had requested a meeting with the Corp's CO and XO 'at earliest convenience'. Given the MaA's track record of requesting meetings, a nice cheerful sit-down over tea and cookies is not the most likely of outcomes. Elf arrives at the offices whenever he is told to, punctually, a small folder held in one hand.

In the neverending stream of paper and personnel in and out of the offices, Constin's one more meeting. However, on the schedule, he's written in and circled with red ink…meaning more important? Or just louder and more violent? Regardless, the time is sent out by runner, and things are made ready to hear the MaA on what he has to say. Madilyn stands near to the coffee pot in this office, filling up a mug halfway while waiting to begin.

Madilyn's right hand is actually standing behind her chair and to the left today, Mathers busying himself with flipping through some report secured to a metal clipboard. As he reads, the toothpick in his mouth bobs while it's worked over between his teeth.

"Major," Constin greets first, offering the appropriate salutes. "Captain. thank you for seeing me on such short notice." He waits for the instruction to sit or speak, like a good dog, before voicing anything further.

The ceremony wasn't public or anything, so there's been no real formal announcement of the changes in rank, just some new pins. So for the moment, the short-changing on the rank is ignored because, really…Madilyn's still getting used to it herself. Before she gives any instructions, she returns the salute, refills the mug to full, and invites them both to sit with her hands. "Alright gentlemen, have a seat if you'd like. What's today's business?"

Mathers straightens slightly as Constin enters, flipping the report closed and sliding it onto the edge of Madilyn's desk for her perusal later. "Gunny." Comes the smooth response from Zane, having learned long ago how to speak around a toothpick and not have it end up being a tiny little wood projectile.

Constin will kick himself later when he recalls the mistake in rank, but for now the other matters on Elf's mind gloss right over the gaffe. Nodding curtly at the invitation to sit, he does so, folding his frame into the chair, before launching right in: "My first piece of business today is the order to search the civilian populace for legal counsel, and the intentions behind that order, sirs." He regards Madilyn primarily through the words, but does acknowledge Mathers' greeting. "I would further like to inquire whether Kincaid's proposal for a civilian trial has been approved, sir."

"The intentions to search the civilian populace was not just to seek legal counsel, but any person bearing legal experience. Paralegals, court stenographers, and yes, even court reporters. There's an untapped potential there, and if civilian trials are to proceed, we're going to need what help we can get." Before answering the second part of his inquiry, Madilyn sips from the mug, and takes her time. "Corporal Kincaid's proposal has been taken under strong consideration, yes, pending the availability of qualified individuals. Before I - or command, rightly - will absolutely say yes or no, we must know if there are facilities and volunteers available to guarantee a fair process."

Mathers doesn't need to have any input on this particular matter, as Madilyn herself has been handling it directly. He is, however, going to remain her shadow. Her silent eyes narrowing in a 'is this going anywhere Gunney', shadow.

"Sir, I wish to file a protest at this proposed course of action," Constin begins, formally. The polished words are kept level in tone, but the ire beneath is audible beneath the restraint. "It is my professional opinion that releasing control of a military matter to non-military personnel will result in the undermining of military authority aboard the Elpis, as well as badly degrading the trust of service personnel in the ability of the Military Police to maintain order in this Fleet. I am prepared to discuss this protest at length, should my commanding officers wish such."

"Don't you think the military authority has been undermined quite enough already, given Kepner's actions? I have to imagine that the civilians aboard Elpis are already quite shaken and doubtful regarding our abilities to maintain order and safety following that event. I happen to think the contrary. These people need a purpose, and they need to feel as if they're being given not only a voice, but some semblance of normalcy. Corporal Kincaid was significantly more eloquent in how he argued the point to me, and I'm inclined to agree with him. However, if you wish to file a protest, please…it is your right." Though not exactly dismissive, Madilyn is a bit…annoyed?

"Sir, I am not eloquent. I do not talk fancy, and I am not the smartest man on this boat, or in this room," Constin states plainly. "What I do know, beyond all doubt, is that Langer was a military servicewoman who was murdered on a military ship, in a time of war. EVERY regulation and protocol we have on the books says this is a matter for a military court," Constin states forcefully. "Just because Kepner threw the regs out the airlock does not mean we should do the same, sir. If civilians are given control of this matter, just because a civilian was involved, it sends the message that civilians are not bound by military law. If you order the Military Police to release jurisdiction in this case, then regardless of the outcome, we can not get it back. For frak's sake, sir- the regulations are put in place in times of peace specifically to govern this sort of thing so we don't make hasty decisions in times of duress. I do not believe we can afford to alter policy based on what civilians THINK they want."

"Do you want a military court? Or do you want a conviction that's going to stand, gunny? Because, as Corporal Kincaid told me, the only way to get a standing conviction is the word of someone who will testify only in a civilian court. Sure, we could try them in a military court and make ourselves feel better than we're following those regulations…or we could try them in a civilian court and know we're going to get the conviction that we seek - and that the deceased deserve. Barring torture, advanced interrogation, or whatever you want to call it, we couldn't get a conviction from tight-lipped civilians." Now Madilyn has ignored the coffee and starts to push forward in her seat, pushing back with a firmness just short of vociferousness.

"Kincaid does NOT know everything, sir," Constin rebuts forcefully. "If you base what is or is not possible purely on his advice, I suggest you are committing an error in judgment. Our first priority should never be for the conviction or the acquittal, but to the process of justice, as we are sworn to uphold it. And intending NO disrespect to yourself or anyone else who endorses this idea, but my oath was to uphold the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and I do not believe this course of action supports that oath. I did not swear to seek the conviction of the guilty, and I damn sure did not swear to take down Piers frakking Marie at all costs. I swore to uphold the law." An incredulous shake of his head. "Sir, Marie's big agitation was for civilian self governance.. Am I alone in thinking that GRANTING him that in a civilian trial might empower that bastard's popularity? I disagree with Kincaid's judgment, sir. Not only do I not trust the ability of an improvised civilian court to produce a just verdict, I believe a military court is capable of producing a just conviction based on evidence as it stands, sufficient to put Marie behind bars indefinitely."

Mathers brow slightly quirks and he looks down to Madilyn but says nothing of her opinion of the matter. The fact that the man is processing all this at all is evident in the way his toothpick makes the transition from one side of his mouth to the other. It is Constin that Mathers finally chimes back in to answer. "Or maybe in the contrary, Gunny, giving the gentleman a civilian trial will kick out the last leg he has to stand on. Kinda apt that the slack in the rope he sought, might just be the slack his own noose is wrought from. After he's given due process, no matter which court he ends up in." His eyes slide back to Madilyn.

Madilyn listens to the argument intently, breathing deeply as Constin argues his point. "Even lacking the confession of the abortion doctor involved in this whole plot? And as it was explained to me, Rene-Marie was agitating only implicitly for civilian self-governance, by reminding civilians of their lack of self-governance. If we grant them that which he professes they lack, by removing his source of agitation, the civilians - I hope - should see him for what he is. What you're saying puts you at odds with Kincaid, who thus far has been handling this investigation with the utmost care and thoroughness. At this point, I don't care if you're the MaA or the frakkin' CO of this ship, of if the same is true for him. I've got two opposing arguments, and I'm trying my damndest to make the decision that's in the best interests of this fleet."

"Like it or not, gunny, this fleet now consists of a sizable civilian population who aren't used to thinking or doing as we do." Madilyn takes a heavy breath, and the bluster that she'd worked up to this point seems to evaporate. She simply presses her lips together tightly, steeples her fingers, and leans back in the chair. "Godsdamnit," is all she says, and surprisingly serenely at that.

"Sirs, I will say again: Langer was a military servicewoman, who was murdered on the Cerberus, in a time of war. If you take that case out of my jurisdiction, you are severely reducing my ability to enforce the rule of law on this ship. This is military jurisdiction, sirs. I can not put it too strongly how far-reaching the implications of taking this out of my hands would be. For frak's sake, sirs- if you want to put a civilian justice system in place, go ahead! Let it govern petty thefts and anything else that falls outside direct military justice issues. But frak me sideways with a crooked crowbar if giving them the murder of a crewman on a warship will help a damned thing." A terse, bullish exhale through the nose. "Forget everything you've been told about convictions and trials for a second, sirs. Please. Look at this like it was a case file out of a history book. Any civilian court we form independent of Military law at this point just isn't legitimate. There is no president, no Quorum, no democratically viable civilian code of law or system of justice. The only legitimate rule of law we have right now is the Military Code. We cannot remove a case from a legitimate court and give it to an illegitimate one. We just can't, sir."

"Did this woman state as to why she would only testify were the trial to be held in a civilian court?" Comes Mathers, merely trying to fill in some of his own mental gaps in this conversation.

"Let me be perfectly clear, gunny. If we try this case in a military court, and Rene-Marie and any conspirators are found not-guilty - despite all of us knowing, despite all of the evidence that's been discovered so far indicating otherwise - we will not be able to try them again. We will have released murderers of military crew back into the civilian population, free of punishment - with a literal frakkin' get out of jail free card - AND continue to uphold what they're using as their base of support. They'll be free and clear, and still able to incite the civilians because we still will have not given them any form of self-governance." Madilyn casts a glance to Mathers. "No doubt more of Rene-Marie's meddling and influence. This doctor was on his payroll, such as it was."

"Sir, that's horse shit. If we try them in ANY court that's the risk we run, and at least the military court is legitimate," Constin returns plainly to Madilyn. "And sir-" to Mathers, "It don't matter. We cannot let civilian interests dictate the alteration or removal of military procedure, especially in capital cases. These regulations are there to protect the civilians as much as to protect us. Rules and regulations are there to ensure fair treatment. We ain't ever gonna get more law and order by ignoring rules." Another breath let out as he looks between the two officers. "Hell, sirs.. when the world is falling apart you try to hold it together, not throw the pieces in whichever direction they think they want to go."

Before she replies, Madilyn rubs her temples. The expression pretty much says she's fed up with having to walk the line between what's in the book, and what might be best for folks. "You've talked with Kincaid about this? Has he explained to you what he's found, and why he thinks this is necessary? Have you even heard what he has to say?"

Mathers pulls the cinnamon scented toothpick out of his mouth, rolling it between his fingers. If he has anything to say, he's reserving comment.

Constin nods once. "I have. Kincaid knows I strongly oppose this course of action, but he pushed it ahead anyway. Kincaid is of the opinion that I am too accustomed to the military structure to adapt beyond it, and I am of the opinion that he shows a dangerous disregard for procedure and law. There are- plainly put, sirs- no grounds for making this case a civilian trial, other than Daniel Kincaid's theories about civilian psychology."

"I just want to be sure that you know…if this is a military trial, and we cannot secure the critical pieces of evidence, your suggested course of action will have allowed a strongly-suspected murderer and dissenter and his partners to return to the civilian population, to continue fighting against us in their subversive manner. You've seen the evidence, I imagine. Is it truly your opinion that as the evidence stands now, we'll be able to put these conspirators away? Are you willing to risk allowing them walk? This is not the right way to think about it, but godsdamnit, if we're going to talk about safety and security and maintaining order, we can't leave any room for these bastards to wiggle free."

"Has every other option been exhausted with this witness? Like threatening her with obstruction of justice and brig time should she not cooperate? Or better yet, charging her as an accessory to the crime?" Mathers wonders out loud.

"First things first, sir? You're damned right I'm willing to risk it if it's the difference between upholding the law and breaking it," Constin states plainly. "Secondly, I ain't speaking to all his collaborators, but as to Marie hisself? I believe we can secure a conviction based on present evidence and his prior record. Damnation, we have him on Desertion, if nothing else," Elf states tightly. As Mathers speaks up, elf considers a moment. "That's a question for Kincaid, sir. I would hope to hell that Donut exhausted all avenues before deciding what had to happen." then, to both at large: "I do not buy into the notion that a civilian trial will be legitimate or fair, sirs. Now I'll be the first to admit, I ain't the sharpest fella left alive. But my oath was to uphold the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That's what I'll hold onto, and that's what's kept all of us- civilians included- alive so far."

Madilyn just sighs and nods, knowing now that she's got both opinions in the matter, and in good detail too. "Very well Gunny. Your protest has been noted, and I'll take it into consideration. As of this moment, we've neither issued nor prohibited the idea of a civilian trial. Your concerns will play into the decision of command and myself. Please make sure to put them in writing." And with that, the issue is apparently closed for the moment, at least as far as she's concerned.

Mathers tucks that toothpick back into his mouth, giving Constin a curt nod. The Lieutenant Colonel says that matter is closed for now, and he's content enough with that.

"You'll have the paper on your desk by tomorrow morning, sir," Constin answers Madilyn, evenly. Another breath let out following the words. "Suppose that's about it for my business. Other investigations have been filed with Lieutenant O'Hare if you have any ongoing questions, sirs."

"There is one more matter I'd like to address, while you're both here. While I understand that I occasionally must seem obtuse, difficult, or flat-out disagreeable, it's only because I try to make it my duty to consider all avenues. I can seldom afford to display the single-minded clarity that seem to define or are even required of you both. For that reason, I must say that I'm glad you are comfortable - or dutiful - enough to speak so candidly and earnestly." This is mostly directed at Constin as she talks. While she does, a recently well-used drawer of her desk is being opened as she stands up.

Mathers follows Madilyn with his eyes. No doubt she knows that should he have any disagreement to anything that has been said, it will likely be voiced in private.

"I will not disobey an order, sir," Constin begins. "Whatever the final decision, I'll do my damndest to fulfill my duties, best I can."

"I know that, gunny. You've proven so time and time again. I appreciate the counsel given here, and I appreciate the vigor with which you've attacked every mission. That's why I've got something here to show that appreciation, not just from me, by from the entire fleet." From within the desk drawer, a simple box is withdrawn, and presented to Constin by sliding it across the desk.

A private pops his head into the offices and babbles something quickly. Mathers quietly says that he'll attend to it, and slips around Madilyn's desk. "Congratulations, Gunny. You earned it." And then he's briskly walking off.

Constin nods once, as Madilyn states 'I know that', his primary concern in the wake of his recently roused temper addressed. Calloused and scarred fingers close around the box, popping it open with the pressure of one blunt thumb into the crease. "Thank you, sir. Sir," he repeats the last word as Mathers offers his words of parting, rising habitually to his feet as the officer departs. He belatedly glances into the box, seeing the familiar silver glint within. "Obliged for this, sir."

"You earned it moreso than the fleet gave it, gunny. Honestly, seriously…I can truly see the merit in the arguments of you and Corporal Kincaid present. These decisions are never easy, even though you might think so. I wish that I could earn distinction and serve the way you and the other marines do in battle," she says with a slight grimace on her face, knowing vividly that her career has been mostly 'by-the-book,' and more than a little lackluster. "Gunnery Sergeant Constin, the Colonial Fleet and the Colonial Marine Corps are delighted, proud, and honored to present the Silver Cluster to you for your actions in combat aboard the Areion, specifically, in destruction of a Viper turning to bear on Cerberus forces. This is made doubly dire by virtue of the enemy being our brothers in arms. Congratulations, Gunny," Madilyn says, offering a brisk salute now.

Constin snaps his surgically repaired right hand up to return the crisp salute. "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." The course of the past half hour- and now the turnaround from an intent debate, now to decoration, and next to writing up a formal protest for placing on record- leaves the big marine tight lipped, and.. quiet. "Is there anything else, Major?"

"No gunny, that will be all," Madilyn replies. "I would point out that the decorations haven't been restricted to just the En-Cee-Ohs, and other H-Q officers." She doesn't point out anything specific, though a lieutenant colonel's pins are quite visibly different from a major's, abandoning arrowheads for a starburst inside a diamond.

Constin frowns curiously as he hears that clarification. NCOs.. Officers.. Unless a civilian got decorated, that only leaves brevet promotions- "Oh. Colonel. Ahuh!" he clears his throat once. "Congratulations, sir." Yup, the perfect way to cap off filing a protest with your Commanding Officer: frak up her rank.

"And gunny?" she says, looking up from the desk's surface. "Don't be too flustered about frakking up my rank. I'm still getting used to it myself. Doesn't always feel like I deserve it. Not yet." And once again, the topic is dropped. "I'll expect your report by tomorrow morning. Unless you have additional concerns, you're dismissed."

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