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    Sailors, Marines Assigned to Ships in Dry Dock Can Now Refuse Nonjudicial Punishment, Navy Announces

    Sailors, Marines Assigned to Ships in Dry Dock Can Now Refuse Nonjudicial Punishment, Navy Announces

    A Navy policy gives sailors and Marines assigned to ships in dry dock or maintenance the right to refuse nonjudicial punishments when they are accused of violations of the Uniform Code of Justice by their commanders.

    Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro announced in an administrative note last week that he is clarifying and loosening the rules around a controversial policy known as the “vessel exception,” which held that sailors or Marines could not refuse nonjudicial punishment — called captain's mast in the Navy — when they were “attached to or embarked in a vessel.”

    Del Toro said commanders now may only invoke the Article 15 vessel exception when, at the time nonjudicial punishment is imposed, a vessel is “operational,” and that the exception does not apply when the ship is in dry dock, extended maintenance or otherwise being refit.

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    The main distinction between a captain's mast and a court-martial is that the former is a much less formal and regulated proceeding that is run by the ship's commander and the burden of proof is much lower than the typical criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    Sailors who refuse mast may see their charges dropped if officials feel like they wouldn't be able to make their case in a formal trial setting. However, if the case proceeds, court-martials are able to levy far…

    Continue Reading This Article At Military.com

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