What happens to the client after NJP and administrative discharge. In Buckingham v. Secretary of the Navy, ENS Buckingham sought reinstatement in the naval service and cancellation of recoupment for his ROTC education.
ENS Buckingham shop-lifted from the NEX and was caught. His CO imposed a LOR at NJP. Subsequently the CO asked NMPC not to process for separation (ha!). Ultimately ENS Buckingham was separated with a General discharge and then he was charged recoupment of almost $83K, the prorated amount of his eduction at Navy expense.
BCNR declined to reinstate or set-aside the recoupment action. So ENS Buckingham went to court.
Plaintiff Jonathan W. Buckingham seeks judicial review of a decision by the defendant, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Board for Correction of Naval Records, an administrative subdivision of the Navy. The defendant has filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Buckingham’s complaint or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Mr. Buckingham has opposed that motion and filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. Upon consideration of the parties’ arguments, the relevant legal authorities, and the entire record in this case, the Court will deny the defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint, grant its motion for summary judgment, and deny the plaintiff’s cross-motion for summary judgment.
ENS Buckingham’s plea to BCNR was:
He argued that he was entitled to the requested relief "for two reasons." Id. at 14. First, he asserted that the punitive nature of "the administrative separation greatly outweigh[ed] the incident" that provoked the punishment. Id. In support of that argument, Mr. Buckingham argued that the letter of reprimand he had received was an appropriate and sufficient punishment for his minor misconduct. See id. The non-judicial punishment he had received was "designed as a rehabilitative tool" and had succeeded in rehabilitating Mr. Buckingham; he had "continu[ed] to receive high marks and the esteem of his chain of command in the time following the incident." Id. at 14-15. Furthermore, the letter of reprimand was no slap on the wrist, as it "would in all likelihood cut ENS Buckingham’s Naval career short due to an eventual [ineligibility] for promotion." Id. at 15. Separating the ensign and demanding the recoupment of educational costs after the issuance of the reprimand inflicted severe punishment "on top of the punishment he had already received" for a "one time lapse in judgment." Id.
Second, Mr. Buckingham argued that he should be reinstated, or that his discharge should be considered Honorable, because the loss of Ensign Buckingham, "a valuable asset," was "a detrimental action for the United States Navy." AR at 14, 16. This was so because Mr. Buckingham’s "conduct and performance," aside from the December 2006 incident, were "exemplary," as reflected by his record and letters of support written by his superior officers, who described him as "`well above average for his peer group,’" as an "`excellent resource,’" and as a "`model junior officer.’" Id. at 16 (citations omitted). His record, it was argued, constituted "overwhelming evidence that the intended purpose of the NJP Letter of Reprimand ha[d] been served," because Mr. Buckingham’s "conduct and performance since the incident ha[d] been exemplary." Id.
This was an excellent clemency request (my words). Unfortunately for ENS Buckingham there was nothing illegal or arbitrary and capricious about the separation action.