Army Colonel Jeffery Nance, the presiding judge in the Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl desertion case has some concerns, officially because Bergdahl’s lawyers has them; unfortunately, Nance has his own, and they’re misplaced.
The judge…called video of [President Donald] Trump repeatedly calling Bergdahl a traitor during campaign speeches “disturbing” at a pre-trial hearing Monday.
He went further:
He also asked prosecutors pointed questions about whether Trump’s criticism has already created a public perception that Bergdahl won’t be treated fairly.
Nance exposed his own prejudgment with his characterization of a politician’s—a businessman as political tyro’s—campaign rhetoric as disturbing as though such blather might prejudice Bergdahl’s case. Nance then deepened his failure with his implication that the trial participants—judge, lawyers, jury—might be influenced by doings from outside the courtroom.
It got worse. Nance asked the prosecution lawyers,
You’re not at all concerned about the statement he made, “If I get in we will review his case”…after ranting and raving about no jail time?
Ranting? More importantly, though, is Nance’s slur here against officers and NCOs in the United States Army—that they’re such cowards they’ll be swayed from their duty as jurors by campaign commentary.
The trial needs to go forward. The Army and Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers deserve justice. Bergdahl deserves justice: if the charges are dropped by this judge, Bergdahl can never be viewed as anything other than a deserter, even if he were not. A fair trial—juried by officers and NCOs who aren’t the timid Milquetoasts Nance thinks they are—will determine Bergdahl’s guilt or innocence; ducking away from the trial cannot.