The Burris trial

The Army JAG Corps has been rocked with some significant sexual assault allegations.  One of them involved Major Erik Burris, who until last year was the Chief of Justice (senior prosecutor) at Fort Bragg, NC.  He has now been convicted himself of various sexual assault allegations, and has been sentenced to serve 20 years confinement as part of his punishment.

The charges:  two counts of rape, four counts of assault and one count each of forcible sodomy and disobeying an order from a superior commissioned officer.  Burris was cleared of four counts of assault and two counts each of sexual assault, forcible sodomy and communicating a threat.

I wonder if the members of his court-martial were aware of his comments about sexual assault prosecutions, which arose from in court testimony in two unrelated cases.

Maher also alleges a former lead prosecutor, Maj. Erik Burris, was too distracted to supervise the case properly because he was distracted by other duties, including the Army’s pressure to prosecute certain cases. Maher also said the major’s personal problems, to include his own charges tied to an alleged assault against his wife and kids, served as an additional distraction.

Burris, who served as 82nd’s Chief of Justice when Lorance’s case was processed, testified in an unrelated pre-trial hearing last summer. He said his office was pressured to prosecute cases, even when the evidence was what Maher described in the filings as “iffy.”

“I know enough about what’s going on. If I wanted to, I could embarrass the 82nd,” Burris said in court.

United States v. Lorance.

The division’s former Chief Military Justice, Major Erik J. Burris, testified there was growing pressure to prosecute sex assault cases under his watch in 2012. The rule was, he said, given probable cause all cases should go to an Article 32 Hearing. If pending probable cause again, it will head to a court martial.

But more questions would arise from senior leaders about the details of sex assault cases, suggesting a blanket directive to prosecute the cases, said Burris.

“It was increasing and just having to deal with the burden of information handling on the cases was significant.”

Burris’s credibility was challenged by prosecutors, who pointed out the officer is facing similar charges for alleged crimes against his own spouse. Burris was relieved from his duties in February 2013, pending a criminal investigation, to include sex assault.

Burris denied his pending courts martial played a part in a motive to testify, but he did admit to having made recent comments expressing his “extreme displeasure” with how the Army was handling sex assault cases.

and United States v. Camacho.  Both cases are at Fort Bragg, the same place Major Burris was tried.

[Update]  This article in the Military Times continues to tie the Burris and Lorance cases together a little.

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