Last week, Judge Col. Jeffrey Nance convicted Sgt. Robert Bowdrie (“Bowe”) Bergdahl’ of two charges of one count of “desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty” and one count of “misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place.”. For these two charges which Bergdahl could have received up to life in prison. However, Judge Nance gave him:
No jail time for his desertion, be dishonorably discharged from the military, his rank lowered to private (E-1), and pay a fine of $10,000.
Veterans freaked. But the saga isn’t over yet.
The New York Times is reporting Bergdahl’s sentence will be reviewed by Gen. Robert B. Abrams, who convened the court-martial and has the power to lessen the punishment.
According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ):
If the sentence is a dishonorable discharge, bad conduct discharge, dismissal (if you are an officer), confinement for at least a year, or death, your case will automatically be reviewed by a military court of appeal.
In this case, the appellate court is the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. The court has the power to reverse convictions that are either legally or factually insufficient, and to reduce sentences that they deem to be inappropriately severe.
Needless to say, this sentence doesn’t even approach a slap on the wrist, so any reduction will most likely not happen. Unless, that is, Bergdahl’s plan is to have the court overturn the sentence entirely. Based on the trial, that wil probably not happen either.
However, because Bergdahl’s sentence contains a dishonorable discharge, he may also appeal his sentence to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
So there you have it: review by Gen. Robert B. Abrams; automatic appeal to the Military Court of Appeal; and possible review by Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
And most of us thought the Bergdahl saga was over. Stay tuned…